James Asquith is a 28-year-old man from Surrey in England, who received a Guinness World Record for becoming the youngest person in the world to travel to all sovereign countries. He saved enough money to take a gap year and travel to Southeast Asia with friends at 18.
This set off his travel bug, and he set off on an around-the-world tour that lasted five years. James visited all 196 countries by the age of 24, and is now working at Deutsche Bank in London.
Thinking that he would be the perfect person to share money-saving ideas, Lonely Planet asked James for his top six tips for people travelling on a budget.
1. Be flexible, both with time and destination. There are great tools now that allow you to not only search for ‘any destination’ on flight comparison sites, but that also allow you to search over a wide time period spanning a month. If you want to take that long-haul trip and are flexible around the amazing places you want to see, then this is perfect for you as you can find the cheapest discounted fares.
Also, if you are able to adapt and spend longer in some places than others, travelling at super-off peak times will save you even more money. Wherever you can, try not to travel on a Friday or Sunday. Also, always try to keep an eye out for early fare sales from airlines. They won’t always be as great as they seem, and seats at the very lowest of prices may be rare, but they do exist, and you can sometimes get a great deal.
2. Travel overland. Once you have booked your biggest one-off cost, which will likely be a return flight (or one-way if you’re lucky enough) try to continue as much of your onward journey overland as possible. Those early morning trips by taxi to the airport and extra little costs add up quickly, whereas most long-distance bus stations are pretty close to the centre of most cities, not to mention costing a fraction of a flight.
Not only this, but you will tend to see a lot more of the country as you peer out of the window. Bus transportation in South America in particular is incredibly efficient, in a continent where international airfares are relatively expensive. You can also select different classes of comfort, where more often than not, a reclining bed with a three-course meal on a long-distance bus will still cost less than a flight. And and what an experience that is!
3. Do your research. It’s such a common piece of advice, not just for travelling, but it holds true, and can be fun as well when you start to get to know a destination before you arrive. A little bit of research can mean you know how much a taxi should cost to your hostel, or whether booking a place to stay in the old city for a little bit more is going to save you a load on transport costs, as that’s the heart of the action.
Research as much as you can. For example, there are many galleries and museums that will have free entry on particular days of the week. Feeling hungry and thirsty? Then make sure you know where the best happy hours are. You’re travelling after all. Who cares if you eat at 5 pm instead of 7 pm if it costs half the price? Find everything you want to do, and the chances are, if you can be flexible, you can always get a better deal.
4. Be adventurous. Eat local and street food. You will most likely try new things, and for a fraction of the cost of eating in restaurants, particularly in Asia, where the street food is incredible and rivals the best restaurants. It’s much cheaper too. Also, if you have cooking facilities – and most hostels do – then why not try cooking with a group using ingredients from the local market or supermarket? It’s social and you will save big time on costs here.
5. Take free tours. Most cities organise free walking tours where only a small tip for the guide is required, but this is how they make their income so don’t skimp on this as nothing ever truly comes for free. In the majority of cities, a lot of the attractions are quite bunched together, so even if you can’t find free walking tours then plan it out yourself.
It’s a fantastic way to find new places, and stumble across hidden gems, so put together a bit of research and see a destination at your own pace and your own way. With all the eating and drinking whilst travelling, the exercise is always good too!
6. Earn, or at least save while you travel. You’ll find that the people working behind hotel receptions or the hostel bar are often also backpacking. If you plan on staying somewhere for a couple of weeks, it’s always worth asking whether you can help out. You may get your accommodation, food, some drink and even a little bit of pocket money thrown in, all for having a good time and making new friends.
Follow James’s Instagram for more travel inspiration and check out his book, Breaking Borders.
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