Travel is the great equaliser that doesn’t care how much time or money you have – it demands both. That’s where we come in! Here lies your ultimate guide to maximising both time and money when exploring the world. In this article, we’ll cover:
- What maximising your time and money doesn’t look like
- Batman: how to make every dollar count
- Superman: how to maximise your travel time
Don’t be a sucker
When I took my first overseas trip as an adult almost ten years ago, I ended up wasting a ton of time and money that I really didn’t need to. Paying more because I left things to the last minute? Check. Paying for a travel agent to book things for me? Check. Locking in a bad exchange rate by getting a travel card? Check. Splashing out on big bus tours that only allowed five minutes at each location? Double check.
If wasting your valuable time and money sounds like your idea of a fun holiday, then this may not be the guide for you. If you’d rather experience more, make your money go further and get the most out of every minute of your holiday, then you’ve come to the right place.
All it takes is a little bit of foresight, preparation and flexibility.
A hero’s guide
Batman: how to make every dollar count
Timing is everything.
- Look to travel outside of peak seasons to avoid price spikes on flights and accommodation. This means avoid travelling during school holiday times, or during the summer months.
- Flights are often cheapest on Tuesdays as it is the least popular day to fly, so if you can plan your trip around flying then, you’re laughing.
- Look out for airline sale events. These are usually flash sales that last between 24-48 hours with heavily discounted fares. Jetstar have built a reputation for their frequent sale events, sometimes tossing out free return legs from Japan or even flights to Europe for less than $1,000. You’ll need to be very quick to catch these sales though as they usually sell out fast.
- It may be stating the obvious, but this one is important: the earlier you book things, the cheaper they will be. This is true for flights, accommodation, internal travel (buses and trains), as well as other activities such as treks and tours. Try to think ahead so that you can make the most of these early bird prices. Though keep in mind that as with any rule, there are exceptions. If you’re the risk-taking type, or the kind of person who likes to leave their plans flexible, then keep your eye on websites that offer last-minute travel deals. These also include mystery accommodation bookings, giving you a bargain price at an undisclosed hotel - like a blind date for hotels (check out https://www.lastminute.com/hotels/top-secret.html to give this a try).
Embrace the hostel life.
- Hostels often get an unwarranted bad rap. These days there are plenty of modern, clean and comfortable hostels to stay in. Not only are they generally much cheaper than other accommodation options, but they can also save you even more money by providing free breakfasts (pro tip: pocket a few extra pieces of fruit to snack on later). Check out www.hostelworld.com to find the best hostels around the world. These are all user rated, so you know what you’re getting yourself into!
Cash or card?
- As someone who’s wasted many dollars putting money on a travel card to lock in an exchange rate, I can safely say – don’t do this. The problem with these cards is the rates are often well below the market exchange rate and you’re usually better off using your regular bank card. This will differ from bank to bank, but the best for traveling is definitely ING as they don’t charge any international transaction fees and will rebate ATM fees worldwide. You might want to consider opening an ING account just for travelling (see our guide on Everyday Banking for more information).
Where to go?
- Choose your destination based on your budget. This might sound obvious, but it’s important. The amount of money you’ll need for your holiday will vary wildly depending on where you go. If you don’t have a Bruce Wayne bankrolling your trip, you may want to prioritise exploring South East Asia over that big Europe trip.
Get your hustle on.
- If time is on your side, you might want to supplement your travel budget by working while you travel. If you’re planning to stay in one place for a while, you’ll often find that hostels are on the lookout for new staff. This can also be a great way to meet new people in your home away from home.
- Some of the best experiences you can have while travelling don’t cost a cent. These can range from local festivals, to museums and art galleries, to my personal favourite - walking tours. Walking tours are usually run by locals and are a great way of learning about the history and culture of a place while getting to know the lay of the land. If you’re in Europe, look out for Sandemans, who run free walking tours throughout the continent (though keep in mind the guides will ask for a tip at the end of the tour).
- One of the downsides of travelling with budget airlines is that they’ll usually charge extra for checked baggage. These fees are often pretty expensive, so if you’re a Tetris master and can fit your luggage into a carry on bag, go for it! You’ll save a ton of money (and time at the airport), especially if you’re taking multiple flights on your trip.