It’s the dream of almost every child and teenager growing up and spending hours exploring every inch of their Atlas or globe: to travel the world and see everything it has to offer. And while more and more young people these days are treating themselves to ‘Gap Years’ in Australia or South East Asia, what about the rest of us? Without thousands of pounds in savings or an exotic, jet-setting job, have we missed the boat on travelling around the world? Fortunately not. Here’s our guide to enjoying exotic, far-flung travel on a budget.
Finding the cash
Most people’s first objection when considering packing it all in and heading off to exotic climes is the issue of money. Unless you have a generous chunk of cash saved up it’s unlikely that you will have the money to travel the world to hand, and even if you do what about your existing job? Thankfully, there are several options. The first, and the most conducive to long-term travel, is to go freelance. These days, there are plenty of jobs that can be done from a laptop with a wireless connection, from freelance copywriting and web design to marketing, data entry and even office work. If your current job is office based, why not talk to your boss about making the transition to freelance? Or, if this won’t work, look at how you could transfer your skills to a different freelance career. Sites such as Fiverr are great for picking up freelance work on the go – you can work as much or as little as you want, giving you the freedom to travel and earn money at the same time.
Another option for those that want to see the world but don’t want to give up the day job is to talk to your company about taking a sabbatical. Many employers will consider granting these to employees that have been with them a while, and it means you can take some time off to travel while still having a job to come back to once you’ve satisfied your wanderlust. Got a sabbatical from work but not much in the way of savings? No problem – there are plenty of initiatives out there to help the time-rich but cash-poor traveller. Check out organisations like Workaway and WWOOFing to find out more about working in beautiful locations around the world in return for free food and board.
Getting bargain flights
Once you’ve worked out how to sustain your travel, you’ll need to work out your transport. While ‘Around the World’ plane tickets stopping in several destinations are available from all major travel agents, they rarely represent the best value for money. With a little creativity and a little time spent planning, you can find much better deals tailored to your own requirements. Visiting South America? While direct flights are expensive, several budget airlines operate between both the UK and the US and the US and Central/South American destinations – so try breaking up your journey in a major American city. Heading to South East Asia? Flights with long stopovers are always much cheaper than direct options, so for the sake of spending 8 hours in an airport you could save hundreds of pounds.
Another money saving tip is to look into ‘Open Jaw’ flights. These are round trip flight tickets in which the departure and/or arrival airports are not always the same – and they can represent fantastic value for money. For example, a ticket from Dublin > Melbourne > London could be as much as a third of the price of a straight return from London, and even factoring in the cost of a budget flight from London to Dublin to catch the first leg that’s still a huge saving.
If you’re happy to slum it, you’ll find no shortage of places letting you sleep in a hammock under the stars or in a ramshackle hut on the beach for a few pounds a night. But if you want a little more luxury on your travels – or you’re travelling in more developed places like Europe where camping out is frowned upon – sites like lastminute.com are invaluable. You can get great rates on hotel rooms and apartments when booking just a few days ahead, so take your laptop with you and keep an eye on the latest deals for where you’re headed next.
Want to really experience life like a local? Why not try couch-surfing? Originally a popular trend with backpackers and young travellers, people from all walks of life are starting to take advantage of this exciting – and most importantly free – way of seeing the world. With couch surfing, you create a profile online, search for members located in the places you want to travel to and make contact – if they’re able to, they’ll host you within their homes for free. It’s a great way to really get a feel for a place and it’s people, all without spending a penny!