Wouldn’t it be great if you could travel for free, perhaps getting unique perspectives that the average person doesn’t see? How about actually getting paid to travel? That would be amazing! BUT for 99.99999% of the population – we’re paying for our trips out of our own budget. We’ve got to save for months (in some cases years) to get that dream holiday.
Working in the media for almost 15 years now, we’ve gotten some pretty good freebies or discounts off an adventure here and there. But not everything is easy to get at a reduced price, and believe it or not – some of the cheaper entries ($5-$10) are the ones the companies won’t even give you a discount on, while $500 tickets are gladly offered! Strange that!
We don’t get the usual travel perks like travel agents or the “big” bloggers, so we have to have cash available to do what we want. So where do we cut expenses or save enough to give us a travel fund?
Cut back on unnecessary expenses at home.
Home Phone/Mobile Phone. We were paying $45/month for our home phone, plus 2 mobile phones at around the same price each. We cancelled the home phone and ported the number to one of our mobile phones. In addition to saving the $45, we have a ‘home phone’ that is always with us – with voicemail, call display and free calls between each of us. That’s $45 x 12 = $540/year we’re saving EVERY year.
Dinner. Who wants to eat dinner at home ALL the time? Not us, but think about the number of times you’ve gone into a restaurant and come away thinking you’ve overpaid for what you actually got? Here’s an example: We love Swiss Chalet, but what used to be a reasonably-priced restaurant eventually became quite expensive – and every time we walked out the door we felt we’d been ripped off. The chicken was more the size of a Cornish hen than a hen. The portion of fries was getting smaller and the price of a soft-drink was now $2.50/glass! We were looking at $25 + tax + tip…not much change from $35. Next door at the local supermarket we got a whole chicken (not ¼) plus huge potato wedges – far tastier than fries, and a large drink for less than $15. We take it home or eat in their eating area and take more than ½ of the meal home for lunch/dinner the next day. The meal is far better than Swiss Chalet and we have no complaints afterwards. Saving $20/week x 50 = $1,000/year! You also save another $10-15 week by eating the leftovers – that’s an additional $500-$750/year!
TV & the Movies. How much are you spending on cable/satellite TV every month? We were paying over $108 per month. It was one of those sacred cows that we couldn’t cut back any further on – we have a killer home theatre system, so we don’t waste money going to the movies. But how do you eliminate all those unique shows/cable channels… and more importantly – cut the cord and save money? Until recently we couldn’t find any alternative. But now we have – it’s called SkystreamX [www.skystreamx.com]. It’s an Android TV box that uses XBMC/kodi to stream your movies and TV shows to your TV. There are numerous units out there that are cheaper, but not as good as this one (and no this message is not endorsed by SkystreamX – we bought our own). It’s completely plug and play. The main difference is you search for the show – not the channel. EVERYTHING on TV is available – including movies that haven’t even hit the theatres yet, it’s free and legal (go to xbmc.org). It costs $179 – one-time cost and you can even take it with you – it’s about the size of 2 decks of cards sitting side by side. All you need it high-speed internet Wi-Fi or Ethernet. To make your life a lot easier I’d recommend getting a cordless keyboard/mouse combo at $20-40. So we’ve spent $209, but we’re saving $108 every month (let’s not forget that cable/satellite goes up $5-10/year). We’re now saving $1,296 minimum per year! Ka-ching.
Going to the movies every Saturday night can really add up… as in needing to take out a second mortgage just to see the latest blockbuster along with popcorn and a drink! If you get a SkystreamX that’ll solve most of those pricing issues. We went to a movie the other week and it was $16 each for the tickets plus $28 for snacks!! That’s $60 for one night – do that once per month and you’re looking at $720/year.
Travel Bank Account – open a separate bank account and deposit extra savings into it every moth – you’ll be surprised how fast it grows. You can even set it up with your bank to automatically send money from your main account into it on a monthly/weekly basis. Putting only the 3 suggestion’s above into the account you’ve now got a minimum of $4,056 there! Sell something on Kijiji? Put that money into your travel fund – it was found money anyway, right? You won’t miss it, ‘cause you never had it.
Cuppa Coffee. You love your coffee, you want to save all that money you’re wasting at Starbucks. So what do you do? You could brew your own and take it with you in a Thermos flask. I know that doesn’t sound exotic, but I found that by testing out numerous coffee blends that I ended up with a Cuppa Joe that can compete directly with Starbucks or any other brand-name coffee shop, in fact I prefer my mug of coffee to theirs every time. Sticking to 100% Columbian coffee is a great place to start. Stay away from Nescafe, Folgers and Maxwell House is another good idea. Arabica beans are good and coffees from Kenya, Costa Rica, Brazil and Sumatra are particularly flavourful and strong – just like Tim Horton’s and Starbucks. In our area there’s a grocery store that sells “President’s Choice” coffee – $8 for a large 1kg can, which lasts me around 5 or 6 weeks and I brew at least 180 cups per month – that works out to around 3cents per cup. When brewing your coffee don’t be stingy – a good-sized portion of coffee for every cup makes it nice and strong – just like the store-bought stuff. Friends always ask me why my coffee tastes so good – that’s the only thing I do differently than most… nothing special. Stay away from K-cups or those other fancy machines – you’re paying more than $1 for each little cup of coffee.
Part-time Job. Not everyone can do this, but the easiest way to make extra money is to get a part-time job. Just a few hours per week is all it’ll take to give you a lot more money. Does your regular job give you Saturdays or Sundays off? Why not find a job that you can work in the evenings or at the weekend. Of course you don’t want to burn yourself out and you’ll have to watch that you don’t get yourself into a higher tax bracket and then end up working all those hours just to give it all to the tax-man.
Get More Bang for Your Buck. Try adding additional countries to your trip and spending less time in one place. Spend a few days in each country or major city and then move on – don’t go for an entire week to one place. Think about combining other countries that are close by, for instance: From Germany, you can take a day trip to the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Luxemburg and France. Europe is at your doorstep – all you have to do is hop on a train or a bus. In Europe you can sometimes find ridiculously cheap airfare between major cities too.
Or how about doing a pit-stop on the way to your actual destination – you might need a travel agent to get you a good price, but what about a stop in London or Paris before ending up in the actual destination of Munich or Frankfurt? We recently had to stop in London on our way to Frankfurt. We didn’t have the time, but it wouldn’t have cost us any more money (airfare) to stay in London for a couple of days before continuing on to Frankfurt.
Use Cheaper Transportation. Do you REALLY NEED to rent a car? How about using trains or busses instead? In many places it’ll cost you $20-25/€25 to park your rental car EVERY night at a hotel. Add in fuel and other fees such as the ridiculous fee/tax that London/Rome charges people to drive through the city centre and it all adds up quickly.
Public buses are more user-friendly and cleaner than you might imagine. Many times you can get a bus or train schedule before you even leave home – do an internet search. On our trip to Munich a few years ago, we had to pick up a (free) car that was located quite a bit from the airport. I checked the transport links via Google and found that we had to take a train and then a bus to get to the car – or take a taxi that would cost a minimum of €50. We saved more than €30 and more than an hour by taking the outer ring transport (train then bus) and avoided going into Munich’s main train station and back out to the car location.
Save Money While On Holiday.
Try some of these tips to see if you can ‘find’ money for your travels – here’s what we do…
- Nothing can eat up your travel money faster than splashing out for an expensive meal or $5 cup of coffee. To that end, how many times do you stop in at Starbucks for an expensive latte when you’re at home? My sister-in-law buys a $5 latte at least once per day – that’s $25/week or $1,250 per year! Not including weekends. Saving money all year continues even when we’re on holiday. We skip the hotel restaurant/coffee shop and put the money towards something we plan on doing – we don’t suffer –we just buy coffee/tea in a local shop instead.
- Remember when you couldn’t buy small bottled water in the stores? It wasn’t that long ago, but it’s something we’re all used to buying now. Where’s the logic of spending $2 for a 500ml Dasani in a convenience store/coffee shop, when you can buy a case of 24 for that same $2 at the grocery store – that’s right next door? When we travel we hit the grocery store and buy a couple of big bottles of water – the 2-litre size bottles. Usually they only cost 79-99cents. It’s far more convenient to use those than a 24 pack. That leads us to..
- Take a large plastic bottle with you. One with a drinking straw or pop-off top to drink from. Make sure it’s empty when you travel through the airport, but it’s surprising how easy it is to find large bottles of water in the airport once you’re through customs. When you get to the other side, transfer the water from the larger bottles you’ve purchased at the grocery store into these more manageable-sized bottles for when you’re out and about. If you run out, you can always ask nicely at a restaurant etc. if they’d be so kind to re-fill it for you. Alternately you can buy a Britta bottle that has a built-in filter and you can just fill it from any tap.
These are just twelve tips we use for making our travel more affordable, but we’re sure you have tips that you could share with us…send us an email with your tips and we’ll add it to this list. Let’s help each other to go on more trips each year.
Copyright © 20185 Iain & Gail Shankland / TravelBloggers.ca (at) Gmail.com. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland | Photography: Iain & Gail Shankland (unless otherwise indicated)
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Iain & Gail started blogging in order to inspire and motivate people to travel the world from their perspective – specializing in having the most fun while using the least amount of money, travelling on the cheap without sacrificing comfort.
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