13 tips for travelling the world on a shoestring budget

Travel broadens the mind, they say, though it can have a tendency to narrow the wallet – but it doesn’t have to be so. These 13 top tips will show you ways in which you can stretch your budget – and travel – further than you might have thought, and how to stay safe whilst you’re doing it.

1. Get up early. There’s no real achievement in staying in bed half the day when you’re travelling. (You could stay in bed at home, for Pete’s sake). Getting up early allows you to pack more into your day, see another side of the life in your location, and is arguably safer, on the basis that unsavoury characters tend to operate by night, rather than in the early morning. And it’s completely free!

2. Camper van relocation. There are numerous opportunities to help camper van hire companies to re-locate vehicle from one depot to another. Works well in Australia, where the benefit is that you have accommodation as well as the opportunity to cover long distances. The downside is that you don’t get to choose where to go, and transfers are often against the clock. But isn’t this travelling lark about having an adventure?

3. Get paid to travel. No, you didn’t misread that. There are jobs that combine travel with earning a living. Cruise ships need photographers, for example, presenting an opportunity to go just about anywhere in the world and receive a monthly salary for doing it.

4. Wear a scarf. A well-chosen scarf is very versatile piece of fabric, lightening the load you need to carry. It’ll keep you warm when it’s cold, keep you out of the sun when it’s hot, can be used as an emergency towel if the need should arise, become a beach wrap, and give you something to sit on.

5. Manage your expenses. Having limited spending money encourages you to be more careful with a scarce resource. Using expense management software like Solo Expenses allows you to keep a track of what you spend whilst you’re spending it, so you can see at a Solo Expenses Appglance just how much of your budget you’ve committed at any time. What’s more, our Personal Use model can provide a great reminder of where you were at any given time, re-awakening the sights and sounds that went with a particular meal, for example. And the best part is that it’s entirely free to download, for Android or iPhone. Check it out here.

6. Take the later train. Travelling overnight means you can sleep on the train, and saves on the cost of overnight accommodation. Shop around for price deals on fares.

7. Get clever with food. Look out for shops preparing to ditch fresh food at the end of the business day. There are often opportunities to buy things more cheaply as closing time approaches. And if no cheap deals are immediately obvious, then ask. What have you got to lose?

8. Be aware of thieves. It’s safest to assume that thieves and pickpockets are everywhere. Don’t carry cash and important documents where they’re easy to reach. Hide your emergency cash well out of the way, and close to your body if it’s possible. Secure bags with zips and locks, and don’t simply have them slung over your back in crowded places. A dummy wallet containing an expired credit card and a couple of low-denomination notes can keep a thief’s eyes away from the main prize.

9. Volunteer. By definition, there’s no cost involved in this. Many organisations will be pleased to have your support, and you’ll get far closer to the ‘real’ feel of a location than you would following well-trodden tourist paths. The rewards are rich experiences, from working to improve the lives of vulnerable children, planting trees that will live far longer than you, or experiencing life with monks – and things you won’t find offered by travel agents!

10. Never overlook the kindness of strangers. Travel is about much more than ticking places off a list. Meeting people and sharing their lives, however briefly, costs very little. Kind words and laughter are free. Remember too, that in some parts of the world a tiny sum of money to you can be life-changing to one of the locals. Avoid multi-national chain stores and buy from street markets. You’ll be injecting funds into the local economy, and buying more experiences, wringing the very best value from everything you spend.

11. Back up documents. Make sure copies of all of your important documents have been made, and are kept in a safe place – at home is good, where a friend or relatives can get hold of them if the originals are lost or stolen.

12. Write a book. Why not? Thanks to the Internet it’s possible to produce a book and have it printed on an ‘on demand’ basis, so you’re not saddled with hundreds of copies and a big bill. Promote it on your Facebook page or through Twitter, and one travel adventure could make a contribution to funding the next.

13. Feel the fear and do it anyway. You’ve heard that one before, but it’s true that some of the richest experiences are to be gained by refusing to shy away from things that might make you feel a little nervous. And what a story you’ll have to tell at the end of it!