Budget Travel Tips You'll Never Read In A Guidebook

by Madeleine Somerville Mar 30, 2007

The wonderful author gallivanting Down Under

Well, maybe if it was a really good guidebook…

Previously, I wrote about working abroad and I offered many helpful and practical tips (if I do say so myself).

Now I am going to bestow some more financial advice regarding how to save money while traveling, but with one important difference – these are tips you’re not likely to read in any Lonely Planet or Rough Guide. Intrigued? Let’s begin.

First of all, if you’re a man I am warning you now that some of these strategies will require trust and flirting.

Accordingly they may be a little more easier to wield if you are a creature with breasts and sleek shaven legs, but don’t get discouraged – perseverance is key! A little cologne couldn’t hurt either.

“Borrow Food” In the Hostel

Please note that I said borrow, not steal. Borrowing implies two things, (1) permission from the owner and (2) replacement of the item.

You already know that it’s usually cheaper to buy food and cook yourself rather than dining out, but are you really going to use a whole stick of butter or carton of milk before you move on?

If your conscience prevents you from committing a possible sin, instead make an attempt to befriend other hostelers and see if they would be willing to lubricate your cereal in exchange for a few slices of bread.

It works most times and you get a lovely feeling of being back in the golden age of the barter system, before that pesky money was invented.

If that falls through, most hostels have a communal food shelf in the pantry and fridge, help yourself liberally to any items stored there – just be sure to check expiry dates.

Flirt For Free Minutes At the Internet Café

Madeleine and her paucy.This tip only applies to cafes that have a human being recording your used time and charging you accordingly; pre-paid cards and computer-run systems won’t be influenced by your generous display of cleavage.

If you are bright and charming and chat with the guy or gal running the café, they will shave a few minutes off your time spent, saving you a few bucks in the process.

Why? Well in all likelihood they are travelers as well and know how tight money is, plus they think that if they help you, you might help them (wink!).

Whether or not you decide to shack up with them is totally up to you – strictly speaking you don’t owe them anything, but if they’re cute…why not?

As a rule of thumb, a few well placed smiles and coy giggles can save you a massive chunk of change over your trip.

Meet Friends With A Car

If you’re always moving about, sightseeing and touring, you’ll be looking for a way to get to get around.

In most locations there are tour companies and bus lines willing to transport you and your backpack wherever you’d like to go, but these delightful services cost money – sometimes a lot.

A cheaper (not to mention more fun) option is to post ads that say where you want to go and when, asking for a ride share. Besides being kind to your wallet, this option is also kind to the environment – give yourself a pat on the back for that one!

Offer to share the cost of the car rental and any necessary gas and you might just have a few responses in time to hit the road.

Extra Tip:Be sure to lay our the financial arrangements before rubber hits asphalt, you don’t want any misunderstandings to leave you stranded along the way. (Also having a great roadtrip cd helps to secure your spot).

Skip The Laundromat And Go Commando

That’s right, eschew underwear for your wallet’s sake. How, you ask, will feeling the sweet breeze on your nethers help you save money? Why without pesky underpants, you won’t have to launder as much!

Madeleine underwater.Let’s be honest, we all know the signal that it’s time to do laundry is when you run out of clean underwear.

BUT, if you don’t wear those lovely cotton pieces, the trusty timekeeper is gone and you can continue to wear your two stanky shirts and pair of sweat-drenched socks indefinitely. (So save the panties for special occasions).

Alternately, if you’re living the beach life, wear your swimsuit as bra and panties/briefs. This way when you go swimming, mother nature will do the washing for you.

For intense cleaning, scoop a handful of sand into your drawers and do a two or three minute underwater jig, the sand will scour away any unsightly stains. Quick, fun and oh-so eco friendly!

Beg For Cash On Your Blog

If you’re going on a trip, you probably have a travel blog. You’ve sent the link to all your family and friends and even Grandma is logging on to read about your adventures.

You’re providing hours of entertainment for the folks back home, who flood your comments with praise and adulation. There’s only one problem: those rotten free-loaders are getting it all for nothing!

While making family members pay to read your blog is a cruel thing to do, setting up a Paypal account in case Uncle Ned ever opens his wallet for his favorite globe trotting nephew, can be a good idea.

It takes a little time to do and involves transaction fees, but it’s also more secure than posting your banking information online or leaving it with your mother to lose amid her famous choco-chip recipes.

Extra Tip: If donations aren’t flowing in as you’d hoped, start posting erratic missives detailing your “dinner” of rice and watery soup, and wax melancholic about the sights you’d see if only you had the cash. Sigh.

The Bottom Line

Generally if you are kind to people, they will want to help you. Dust off your manners and put a smile on your face, get to know the person booking your flight or making your meal, you’ll be surprised at the outcome.

Not convinced? On my recent sojourn to Australia I needed to rearrange some travel dates – something the fine print on my plane ticket said would cost a minimum of $200.

I poured my heart out to the woman at the airline, flattering her pants off. As it turned out she was in a similar situation a few years back – she waived all the fees and I got to change my flight for free.

Smiling yet?

Madeleine Somerville is a big city girl living in small city British Columbia, where she works as a newpaper columnist. She has travelled to Thailand and Japan and most recently came back from a few months of sun and sand Down Under.

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