You’re off to travel the world and you’ve stocked up on all the ‘travel essentials’ that the sales girl at the Kathmandu outlet convinced you into buying.
Water-proof gear: check.
Bulging money belt: check.
Exorbitant amounts of Gore-Tex clothing: check and double check.
Sleeping bag with room for two: well here’s hoping (sadly all that Gore-Tex will not help your chances).
Let’s face it, you got a little over-excited and spent a little too much money (did you really need to buy the anti-bear spray? You’re going to Paris for chrissake!). Well it happens to the best of us.
To help you regain some control over your backpacking funds, here are my top 5 tips to save money while travelling:
- Food: Stay in hostels with kitchens or free breakfast included (Did anyone say cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner?). Eat out at restaurants during the day rather than at night to take advantage of lunchtime specials.
- Accomodation: Many hostels will let you stay for free if you offer to do a little cleaning (Hey Kevin, pass me the mop).
- Transport: One of the best low-cost journey planners is carpooling.com - the largest rideshare service in Europe (2 million monthly users). With a few clicks, drivers can offer available seats and passengers can find or book a ride. Instead of paying 180 Euro to get the train from Paris to Berlin, for example, you make a small contribution towards petrol costs (i.e. 15 Euro) and get to meet cool people along the way. If you’re concerned about safety when car sharing, you can book female-only rides or use their online booking system so you have the security of a print out confirmation, driver ratings and verified contact details. For reasons to car share, see this: infographic.
- Fun: Try out the free walking tours offered by companies like newberlintours. At the end of the tour, you decide how much to tip – which means the guides have a lot of incentive to make things as fun and interesting as possible.
- Money: Take the time to really investigate bank accounts that offer the best foreign exchange and ATM withdrawal fees. Having two cards which you keep separately will help as a safety mechanism in case of theft. Amex traveller cheques are, in my experience, a waste of time as it’s often very time-consuming trying to find places that won’t charge commission.
I hope that was helpful. Good luck on your European adventure!