There’s nothing quite like planning an epic trip abroad. That growing feeling of excitement as your departure date looms closer, the hours spent flicking through guidebooks and trawling the web in preparation, and the anticipation of knowing that soon you’ll be experiencing things you’ve only ever dreamed about. But travelling on a budget isn’t always easy. These amazing life hacks will give you the tools you need to enjoy your adventure hassle-free, and without busting the bank.
Be a smart flyer
Don’t for one minute think that your local travel agent is going to offer you the most affordable flight. You can save hundreds by turning to a flight comparison site like Tripseats, or Skyscanner. These aggregators will trawl through millions of travel options before directing you to the cheapest carrier for the date you want to fly.
Many of the same travel sites that scan the web for cheap flights carry out an identical process for hotels too. Last minute deals for hotels and hostels come up all of time, so don’t worry about booking too far in advance. But there are ways to pay nothing for accommodation, if you’re up for something a little different.
Join the family
To stay for free, try couch surfing. There are lots of websites out there like Couchsurfing and BeWelcome that can put you in touch with willing hosts. For a more long-term option it’s definitely worth contemplating the idea of house sitting. Again, there are a lot of sites, including TrustedHousesitters, advertising house sitting opportunities.
Savour street food
Wherever you are in the world you’ll find the most authentic food at street stalls. From Thai noodles, to Caribbean corn on the cob, not only is street food incredibly cheap, but it gives you the chance to taste genuine local cuisine. Try logging on to a local food blog for tips on the best places to eat and dishes to try. Food markets are also amazing places to sample local specialities.
If you can, try and fit as much as you can into your hand luggage. Just having a carry-on bag will not only save you time, but money too. We all pack too much when we go away on holiday, it’s a much better idea to grab a box of laundry powder when you arrive and be prepared to do your own handwashing. Wherever you end up, all you need is a bucket and clean water.
Another great packing tip is to roll your clothes up. Not only will you manage to squeeze more into your luggage – but you won’t end up with tons of creased t-shirts. Surprisingly, when you unravel your garments you’ll find they look almost as pristine as they did when you packed them back home. Packing extra underwear in your socks is a great tip too.
All wrapped up
If you simply can’t bear to leave a few of your most beloved items of clothing at home, you can always wear them on the plane. Piling on the layers will allow you to save on weight in your luggage, leaving more space for the essentials. Of course, if you’re travelling to a colder climate this could be a bonus, but for hot and humid destinations, give it some thought before layering up.
If you lose your passport, ID or travel documents you’ll soon find yourself in a spot of bother if you don’t have a backup. The easiest way to do this is to scan everything before you leave and email the information to yourself. If you have a smartphone or tablet, take a photo of the documents or save a copy of the scans to your device.
A delicate load
Stick a fragile sticker to your backpack or suitcase. Not only will this ensure that your bag is one of the first to come out on the conveyor belt, but it will be handled with care during transit. We’ve all seen how suitcases get thrown about as they leave a plane’s hold, with any luck, marking your bag as fragile should lessen any potential damage.
Another way to streamline baggage collection is by attaching a colorful ribbon to your bag’s handle. A dull, uninspiring carry case is great for avoiding the eyes of thieves, but on a luggage belt, these incognito cases can be hard to spot, a removable ribbon is the perfect temporary solution.
Never exchange your currency at the airport. The premiums added to exchange rates are hugely inflated. The best thing to do is head to the closest ATM and use your credit or debit card to withdraw local currency. In fact, everything in an airport is overpriced – don’t hang around.
Learn the lingo
There’s no need to become fluent in the language of every country you visit, but learning a few words and phrases can be invaluable. Just mastering “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “Please” and “Thank you” will not only help you to communicate , but show your willing to integrate too and could lead to some surprising outcomes.