Gap Years

Travelling on a Shoestring Budget

Make sure you don’t have to cut your travelling journey short with these money saving tips.

A wise man once said “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

There’s no doubt that travelling the world is the dream of most graduates but there’s probably one concern niggling in the back of your mind – money!

There’s no denying it, travelling can be a costly business and unless you’ve had a recent lottery win the amount of cash in your bank is likely to be the deciding factor in where you go and what you do while you’re there.

That’s not to say that a lack of funds has to hold you back. We don’t want you to be denied what could be the best experience in your life where you can  “discover yourself” so we compiled this traveller’s friendly guide to doing it all on a shoestring budget.

Tips for Travelling on the Cheap

Set a budget

Travel BudgetThis is by far our number 1 piece of advice. Whether you go into minute detail or just have a rough idea of how much money you will spend, travelling & budgeting go together like fish & chips.

Hoping for the best is never a good approach when it comes to travelling! If you want to make your money go as far as possible and avoid any tricky situations, set a budget from the offset.

Work out how much you can afford to spend, and break it down into a daily allowance for each day that you’re away. When you’ve got that figure, you’ve got a much better idea of how you can live whilst you’re travelling.

If you want to go into more detail than this then you can. You should take a look at the cost of specific things such as accommodation, travel and food and then work out an estimated weekly spend. Once you know how much you are likely to spend add a little on top for emergencies and then you’ll know how much you’ll need per week/month etc.

Keep a running total of your spending

A budget is pretty pointless if you don’t know whether you’re sticking to it. By making a note of everything you spend, you’ll know how you’re doing and you’ll be able to make any necessary changes so you can continue to travel for as long as you planned.

So, if you’ve spent three week’s budget in five days, you’ll know that you need to rethink. It’s much better to be aware of this as early as possible rather than putting it to the back of your mind and thinking that everything will be ok.

You can download apps, such as the brilliant Trail Wallet, to keep track of your spending on your phone, or you might just want to use a good old pen and paper.

Be realistic!

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have a massive budget for travelling, and you want to make your money go as far as possible.

Living frugally while you’re away can be really easy in many countries, but make sure that you have realistic expectations from the start. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to afford 5 star hotels and fine dining every night, so be aware of the realities.

You need to be prepared to slum it every now and again. Plus, it adds to the fun in our opinion.

Work while you’re away

Backpackers workOne of the best ways to stick to your budget is to increase it! Working abroad is not only great for your finances, it’s also a brilliant way to meet new people and get an insight into cultures that you wouldn’t usually experience as as a tourist.

Whether it’s bar work, admin, teaching English, or anything else in between, it could be your ticket to prolonging your travels and ensuring that you don’t run out of cash before you’re ready to return home.

If this is your plan, make sure that you research any visa requirements in advance. You can work anywhere in the EU but countries like Australia and New Zealand require working visas. It’s often not just a case of turning up then looking for a job!

You might also want to look for volunteering opportunities!

Find the best ways to spend abroad

If you allow us to blow our own trumpets, we are known for being student money experts so you can trust us when we say that certain ways of spending are a LOT better than others when you’re away. And we wouldn’t want you to get stung by the banks…

UK Debit card payments will usually incur massive charges in foreign countries and it’s worth looking at any other options available. Luckily the guide we wrote on Save the Student is applicable to graduates too so check out your options here.

Find cheap accommodation online

Backpackers hostel cheapBack in the good old days, half the fun of travelling was arriving in your destination then heading out to find the best hotels or hostels in the area. Now though, the internet gives you plenty of opportunity to save money before we even get there.

On top of this those cheeky little hotels and hostels actually charge more if you just turn up and book (as they know you’ll be desperate to find somewhere for that night).

Check out sites such as HostelBookers and HostelWorld to browse through accommodation that could save you a small fortune and you can check out ratings from other travellers.

If you are willing to sleep somewhere that may be a little dodgy we have actually managed to find hostels in places like Thailand for the equivalent of just 75p a night!

Shop around when booking travel

You might think that the usual suspects are the best when it comes to cheap flights, but this isn’t always the case. You’ll be amazed at just how much you can save if you start looking further afield and trying new providers. Of course, you should always make sure that you’re covered if the company goes into administration.

If you use comparison sites such as Skyscanner they will tell you the best value flights on offer.

When you are at your destination make sure you plan any travelling in advance so that you can compare prices and work on your haggling.

Travel to Cheaper Countries

This tip is a bit open ended but you should be able to gather a good idea of the countries that are cheap and those that aren’t. For example, it’s quite obvious that Thailand will be quite a lot cheaper than Australia for example.

Countries such as India and those in South East Asia are known for being very cheap and easy going on travellers. Just make sure you learn some of the lingo and get down to some haggling.

Try interrailing

If you want to travel somewhere closer to home then interrailing is by far one of the most affordable options available.

For just over £350 you can spend a whole month travelling around Europe and getting the taste for the different cultures on offer. Just think, 1 week you could be drinking a cold beer with Franz in Germany and the week after sipping sangria  with Tamara in Spain, lovely!


As you can see, there are so many ways to make your money go further while you’re travelling. If you’re prepared to put these into action, you’ll find that seeing the world could be a lot less expensive than you think.

Are you thinking about travelling before entering the world of work? Have you discovered any ways to save cash as you go? We’d love to hear your tips!

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