Since we left Amsterdam in July, we have been travelling to different Asian countries. Yes, we’ve been to Australia as well, but for a different reason (work) yet the travelling part of our adventure abroad is mostly taking part in Asia. This part of the world might seem cheap for the average holidaymaker, but when you are travelling (with less income) for along time you can reach the point of having to take a look at your expenses. As we have been travelling on a budget for a while now, I thought I would share some of my insights with you.
Travelling on a budget
Whether you don’t like spending more than necessary, you are travelling for a longer time or just because you are a cheapo: here are my tips for when you are travelling on a budget.
Tip 1: Look for accommodation with a kitchen
Depending on where you are in Asia, you will find that food can be super cheap. However, having to eat all those meals (and drinks) outside the house will add up. When there is a kitchen that you can use, you have the option to cook your own meals. Maybe you do want to do this every day, or maybe you don’t. For me, I like to prepare my own breakfast and be able to make it the way I want it. Except when I am in Bali, because Bali breakfasts are the best. For lunch and/or dinner I like to alternate eating in and eating out. By the way, if there is no kitchen available, having a fridge might be enough to be able to make your own breakfast.
Tip 2: Organise your own trips and hikes
As long as it is safe, you can choose to organise your own trips and hikes. When we were in Chiang Mai we wanted to do some hiking. However, organised trips were too big of an expense at that time so we did a few hikes ourselves. We (actually, it was Bas) downloaded this hiking app, we (also Bas) took some time to figure out how to get to the start of a trail and we just did it. True, you don’t have a guide, there is no organised lunch so you will have to think of that yourself and maybe you get lost a couple of times but it will be an adventure for sure.
In some cases I would discourage you to organise your own hikes. For example, Balinese people will not be amused if you climb Mount Badur yourself since it is their Secret Mountain. On Koh Chang we decided to go on a organised hike as well, since it was really hard to get to the start of the trail and there are venomous snakes in the jungle. Looking for an adventure is fine, but make sure safety comes first! And of course, do not disrespect the local culture.
Tip 3: Figure out public transportation
Bas and I saved a lot of money by (trying) to figure out the local public transportation infrastructure. In some cities, such as Bangkok, it will be easy because you can use Google Maps (yes, also for public transport). When travelling between Chiang Mai and Chang Rai we thought that the most convenient way would be to book a minivan that would pick us up at our hostel. We payed 350 bath each (€9,70) for a relatively short ride that took much longer due to the extra stops they make because you are a tourist. Also, we had to wait for a couple that misunderstood the ’30 minute lunch break’ for a 60 minute one. After a few days in Chiang Rai we wanted to go back to Chiang Mai, but this time we would do it differently. We found a bus for 140 bath each (€3,85) that did exactly what you might expect: bring us from A to B. It did not drop us off at our guesthouse though, but for 40 bath (€1,10) we took a Grab taxi (Asian Uber). So that would be an extra tip: see if there is a taxi service that you can use, such as Grab or GoJek (Bali). It will save you from having to hustle with taxi drivers as well!
Tip 4: Workout from ‘home’
If you are not really the active type when travelling, you might want to skip this paragraph. But if you do like to work out when you are on a holiday or travelling, you might consider doing your workouts from home (or in your case your guesthouse/hostel/Airbnb). For example, in Cambodia there a few yoga studios. A single class for foreigners will cost you US $7. Compared to the prices for a single class at home, this is super cheap. But then again, all those yoga classes will add up. Moreover, you can’t really compare these prices because how many single classes would you attend at home before deciding that a subscription would be a way cheaper option? Since I like to workout at least 3-5 times a week, it would not be economic to go to a yoga studio. Instead, I bought a flexible yoga mat and explored the many video’s that I found on YouTube. The same for HIIT workouts. And, if you like running, never forget to pack your running shoes!
Tip 5: Stay longer in one place
Travelling while travelling is relatively expensive. This might sound a little strange but what I mean is that things as visas, transportation, etc. will cost you money. I am not trying to say that you shouldn’t move around but there are some positive side issues from staying a bit longer in one place. For one, it will be easier to find cheaper accommodations. Weekly or monthly prices are usually lower than the price per night. Another pro is that 10-class passes at your yoga studio or gym will become more interesting. But the best argument for staying longer in one place is not budget related: you will travel more relaxed, less stressed and you will have more time to really experience the place.
I hope these tips were helpful to you. Maybe you have some tips for me as well. If so, please share them with me in the comments below so that we can learn from each other!