The 5 things you must know now before travelling on the cheap.
In this post I will cover:
- Getting free internet on your holiday / backpacking trip.
- Working the system to get the cheapest travel insurance possible.
- THE cheapest international calls
- Cheap cheap cheap Accomodation
- Specific info for each city
Getting Free Internet on you Backpacking trip
When it comes to cheap backpacking, this tip will save you a lot.
I picked up an old Nokia phone with Wifi (EU75) from a gypsy market in Bulgaria two months ago, and I’ve been sponging off other peoples open wifi connections ever since!
The beauty of this is that each time I use my new free internet connection instead of paying Euro 2-5 (sometimes 10!), eventually that money saved means that I will eventually make the cost of the phone back and then start actively saving/making money.
I’ve also downloaded a nifty program called fring, which lets me call others on skype/google talk etc for free or landlines/mobiles for a small fee when at a wifi hotspot. The fee is much less than what you can expect to pay with the normal ‘cheap’ international phone cards.
Working the system to get the cheapest travel insurance possible
Rule number one for having a cheap backpacking experience:
NEVER buy travel insurance from your travel agent! Until you follow the steps below first!
Buying travel insurance from travel agents is like buying Armani from a supermarket. It’s just not cricket ~
Because it is a point of convenience, most people don’t think about shopping around and just go for the first price they get. Which is always a rip off.
My first quote for travel insurance for a 6 month trip to Europe, Middle East and Africa was over AU$600 from my travel agent. No thanks.
I then did a search on the web for the absolute cheapest I could find with (and this is very important) comprehensive, unlimited health insurance, which is all I was interested in. I ended up getting a quote for AU$200 from a company backed by a major international bank. I then took that to my travel agent and they matched and beat it. So I ended up paying AU$180 instead of AU$600 for the same product!
The cheapest international calls are not where you think
Most of us who are looking for a cheap backpacking experience know not to call home from hostel/hotel phones etc and usually buy calling cards.
Whilst this can be cheap, some countries don’t have the cheap international calling cards, or if they do are not so cheap.
The other option is using a feature called ‘skype out’ – this is part of the normal skype program, except instead of just calling a skype computer, you can call actual landlines and mobiles. For cheap!! : )
For example, I go to an internet cafe in Bulgaria and call home for the skype rate of AU 2 cents per minute instead of AU 26 cents per minute which I would be charged with a calling card/special internet phone booth.
That’s 1/10th of the price! Yahoo has an even cheaper option with their chat program.
Or if the person you are calling has Skype/Yahoo messenger, you can call for free obviously : )
The worst thing you could do when aiming for a cheap backpacking experience is booking a hostel through hostelworld.
Having worked at a hostel I can tell you they own 80% of the market and can get away with charging you US$2 on top of the 10% booking fee.
Why pay the US$2 every time when you can book free at hostelbookers (dot com)? You get exactly the same thing without being taken advantage of!
Another thing that is handy to know is that that 10% deposit only goes to the website not to the hostel!
Knowing that, why not google the website of the hostel you want and email them directly, asking them if you can keep the 10% if you book through them directly? I’ve done this several times and its especially handy for long term stays.
Specific info for each city : )
Whilst the preceding four points are good general tips, one more thing that will save your hard earned money is to find blogs which cover cheap tips for the city / place you are about to visit.
Have any more good tips for backpacking on the cheap? Please share them with the rest of us below : )
Lewis is an Aussie that got bored with the 9-5 job and has been backpacking cheaply through the Middle East and Europe since January 2009, and like most Aussie backpackers, loves a good bargain. Travelling for so long he’s learnt how to stretch his Aussie dollar as far as it’ll go. If you would like more tips on how to enjoy cheap holidays, visit his blog.