The current financial crisis may be putting people off going on holiday or even taking their gap year (OE for you people Down Under!), but it really shouldn't. This article will give you lots of advice on how to travel on a budget to make sure you get the most out of your travels. Some money saving tips are obvious and others you may not have considered. If you've got any tips you'd like to share, make sure you let us all know by making a comment at the end of the article...
There's lots of destinations that are pretty cheap to travel around.
For example, travelling to South East Asia has always been a great option for students and backpackers. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are all popular destinations but you can do it even cheaper than most people if you stick to a few simple rules... Stay away from the most popular tourist meccas. Instead of heading to Bangkok, why not visit one of the lesser known towns in Thailand. You'll probably have to fly into Bangkok, but get a night bus to somewhere else when you've arrived and you'll be paying much less for your accommodation and food.
BUT... Don't completely avoid places like this though, they're visited often because more often than not, they're worth a look. So you could use this tip in a slightly different way. Khao San Road is the huge backpacker area in Bangkok, but if you walk a couple of blocks you can get much better and much cheaper food (Pad Thai bought on Khao San Road was 3 times more expensive than a few streets away when I was there!)
(Also read this article on How to Avoid Tourist Traps)
This tip totally depends on what your trip is all about. If it's a two week holiday you're going on, your best bet is either to book months and months in advance or leave it right until the very last minute... I personally like to leave it until the last minute because I've managed to nab some unbelievably good deals on flights on that way.
BUT... Of course this can sometimes be risky, the last minute deals won't always be cheaper than if you'd booked months in advance, and you may have to be a bit flexible with your travel dates. Try and leave mid-week, flights are normally most expensive on a Friday or a Monday so bear that in mind when booking your hols! For yearly trips it's definitely worth looking into getting yourself a round the world ticket...
BUT... make sure you look into the separate flights for yourself because it may work out cheaper. Buying a round the world ticket also leaves you with no option to change your plans. You might find buying tickets as you go is cheaper in the long run BUT make sure you know the visa requirements for the places you want to go. Sometimes you have to apply for your visa before you leave your country of residence, and some places (like Vietnam) require you to specify the dates you'll be arriving.
There are a number of ways of finding somewhere cheap to rest your head for a night or two... These do tend to depend on what your minimum level of comfort is though...
Camping Always a popular option and this doesn't have to be an option only for the more adventurous of us. Camping generally works out cheap no matter what continent you're on and campsites are a lot more advanced now than they used to be. Even if you don't have a tent you can normally stay in one that's already been put up (and sometimes they even have power points). If you're not a "champagne camper" and you like to pitch your tent wherever takes your fancy you'll probably find it's alot cheaper (Free!!!)
BUT... check the law about free camping in the country you're visiting. In many places it's illegal to camp unless you're in a managed campsite or licensed area. Camping in the wilderness sounds good but the reality may be different - where are the power showers??? ALWAYS think about your own safety. DON'T camp somewhere where grizzly bears are known to hang out for example!
Backpackers Hostels Staying in a backpackers hostel isn't as nasty as some people imagine. Firstly they tend not to be called youth hostels anymore because people of all ages are welcome to stay. Secondly, hostels aren't necessarily filthy, infested with bed bugs or full of drunk travellers causing such a noise you can't sleep. Backpackers Hostels have improved greatly over the last couple of years what with the growth in "flashpacker travel". What's a flashpacker? Well this term tends to describe those backpackers who can't travel without their i-pod, mobile phone or even their laptop. These backpackers expect more from a hostel, sometimes a bit too much, but nevertheless the hostels have responded to this growing market by improving their facilities and services. When travelling through Australia and New Zealand for example, you'll find that nearly all hostels offer the following as standard:
Staying in backpackers hostels is now a pleasant experience and the standard of accommodation (especially in private rooms) is near hotel quality, but you get communal areas to meet other backpackers and it tends to be a lot cheaper than a hotel!
Make sure you read Part 2 of How to Travel on a Budget