Travelling and staying in budget do not have to be mutually exclusive. You can travel all over the world without having to break the bank. What is required is some planning. Each year, I plan and set goals of which countries or places I want to visit. And then I save accordingly. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to save money and still travel the world.
Things to invest in
Invest in a good backpack: I cannot emphasise this enough. A good backpack will take you a long way. In my opinion, a good backpack has the following features: a) It is light (maximum three lbs, especially if you are not someone who is super into strength training). b) It is the right size: my cut off point is 50 litres for a trip that will last 3-4 months in the summer. The bigger the backpack, the more the hassle. c) It is water resistant and durable.
The reason I insist on this is because in the long run, a light and durable backpack will save you tonnes of money when you are walking for miles and are super tempted to take a taxi, or when your bag tears up in a place like Iceland where you can barely afford to breathe.
Invest in a good pair of shoes for walking or hiking: You can walk longer, do more things, carry more stuff, and therefore save tonnes of money in the longer run.
How to book “cheap” tickets
My go to search engine is Skyscanner on private mode. So, here's how I do it: I go on private or incognito mode on my browser while searching for flights on Skyscanner. I do this so that I can look up prices without the website collecting all my data and then dramatically increasing the prices when they see a route that I have been eyeing when I am about to purchase the ticket.
When Skyscanner shows you the different options, compare them separately by searching for the same flights in the airlines offered. For example, if I am booking a flight from Dhaka to Munich and Skyscanner tells me that Emirates is the cheapest option, I will also double check this on the Emirates website, because sometimes the “mother” websites offer a cheaper price when you search independently.
Between trains and busses, buses tend to be cheaper globally than trains, so I would really recommend you look into it if you don't get motion sickness. I have bought a mega-bus ticket for as cheap as £1 for a trip from Amsterdam to London. So buy that travel pillow and the eye mask and sleep through long bus trips—and don't forget those ear plugs too!
For accommodation, try Couchsurfing. It is a handy website that allows travellers from different countries to connect and share incredible experiences. And if you are lucky, you could end up making friends for a lifetime.
Hostels are a cheap and affordable way to travel. You can often meet amazing people who you become really good friends with and travel to other places together, which often makes things much cheaper and more fun! I think the trick to hostels is reading the reviews. I recently stayed at a hostel in Cancun which had really high ratings but was super loud and dirty. What I didn't see when I only chose a rating was that it was actually rated for being a party hostel and was not good otherwise. So, exercise caution, because it can be tricky!
Airbnb and booking.com are also great for booking cheap accommodations. With booking.com, because I have booked with them over 11 times, I get great discount and deals. So, whenever you book, please make sure you are logged into your account to avail these offers. Plus, if you look for deals, you will sometimes find really good hotels for cheap prices. The key is to always read the reviews and see what people say about the place because sometimes staying at a very cheap place could cost you crazy amounts of money for transport etc., so make sure you are staying within walking distance to all the places you want to visit.
Finally, I cannot emphasise enough on penny pinching, especially if you (like myself) have a habit of buying stuff that you don't need. It took me a very long time to learn how to structure my spending, but I finally got there. And trust me, a couple of dollars here and there turns into a few hundred dollars in the long run!
Maliha Fairooz is a 27-year-old Bangladeshi solo traveller, who has travelled to 81 countries, on a Bangladeshi passport. Through her blog www.whereareyoufr0m.com, she shares her experience of travelling as a brown, Muslim, Bangladeshi woman while simultaneously encouraging a culture of travel amongst Bangladeshi youth.