Got a remote gig and travel interest but a wallet that's holding you back? 🌍✈️ No worries! We've got seasoned Axelerant travelers to share their top tips on exploring the world without busting your budget.
Meet our pros:
Our globetrotting Chief Success Officer, Michael, hit the road at seven and hasn't looked back since. They've chalked up a trove of knowledge on maximizing travel benefits.
Pragyan, who pivoted from a desk-bound Data Analyst role into a nomadic journey of full-time remote work, kicked off their travel adventure in 2019 in Vietnam.
Let's dive into their invaluable money-saving travel tips:
Pre-Travel Planning 🌐💼
Choosing the Destination:
Embrace the "slow travel" concept, where you marinate in a single location, seeping in the culture while trimming costs by living like a neighborly local.
Michael travels purposefully and suggests picking destinations that pique your curiosity or interest.
Affordability plays a significant role in Pragyan's decision-making process. They research the cost of living in potential destinations to ensure that it aligns with their budget.
Start by tackling the heaviest expenses: flights and accommodations.
Navigating local regulations, particularly visa requirements and travel restrictions, is critical to journey planning, especially when you're watching your budget.
US citizens like Michael have the advantage of visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to many countries worldwide, simplifying travel considerably. However, places like Russia and India require visas, making initiating the application process a few months before the trip is essential.
Often, Michael will stay in a visa-free location until its limit and venture elsewhere until the visa-free status refreshes.
Pragyan tends to steer clear of destinations with complex entry prerequisites. They prioritize countries where online visas or visas on arrival are offered, as embassy visits for visa applications can incur unnecessary expenses.
Pragyan also considers specific permissions, such as the legality of riding motorbikes with an International Driving Permit.
Pragyan suggests using Kiwi to check flight costs and then booking through Skyscanner or Wego. While Michael often prioritizes comfort over cost by choosing flights that honor their airline status.
Your accommodation needs will depend on whether you're a solo traveler, a couple, or a family.
Michael and Pragyan agree that Airbnb is a top choice for extended stays, though its prices might be high in some markets. Therefore, look to Booking for apartments.
For the first night or two, consider a budget hotel or hostel to get a feel for a place before committing longer. Pragyan gives a shout-out to Hostelworld and Couchsurfing for solo travelers.
Foreign Exchange Cards and Travel Cash:
Foreign exchange cards, or forex or travel cards, acquired from your bank, are preloaded with a country's currency before you travel. They work like debit cards, allowing you to withdraw cash or make payments while keeping your bank account secure.
Forex cards often offer more competitive exchange rates, and the fact that they can be replaced if lost or stolen makes them a safe alternative to carrying large amounts of cash.
Of cash, Pragyan and Michael keep about 50-100 USD or 1500-2000 INR in India on hand at a time. This small amount is enough to cover immediate needs like food or transportation but not excessive to the degree that it would cause distress if lost or stolen.
Navigating airports, stations, and streets is a breeze with minimal luggage. So, invest in smaller, lightweight luggage and pack multipurpose clothing pieces that can be layered.
Carry less than you think because you can purchase inexpensive things locally when it's chillier or windier than expected. Besides, that new jacket becomes a travel memory.
And when you're ready to head home, you can always buy an oversized bag to check onto the plane for the trip-end goodies.
Planning for Layovers:
Layovers can be an opportunity to explore or rest.
Research the Airport: Check what facilities your layover airport offers, such as lounges, showers, or WiFi. Some airports, like Singapore's Changi, even have amenities like gardens and movie theaters.
Prepare for Relaxation: For long layovers, pack items like a travel pillow, eye mask, headphones, and comfortable clothing.
Check Visa Requirements: If leaving the airport during your layover, verify the visa requirements for that country.
Track Time: Keep track of time to ensure you get your connecting flight. Consider setting an alarm as a reminder.
Travel insurance protects you from unforeseen predicaments. Most policies typically cover medical emergencies, trip cancellations, baggage loss, and evacuations.
If you plan on renting a car or participating in extreme sports like mountain biking, double-check to ensure your policy includes such coverage. Often, these situations require optional add-ons.
On-the-Ground Experience 📍🍲
Pragyan suggests tasting the local culture by eating where the locals do for budget-friendly and authentic meals. Due to their allergies, Michael often dons the chef's hat but is open to trying local dishes where possible.
Michael suggests trying local beverages instead when allergies raise a red flag. It's a fantastic way to savor local flavors without risking an adverse reaction.
First, connect, as Pragyan suggests, with a local SIM card on arrival. Or, as Michael does, purchase a data-only Airalo eSIM before your departure.
Michael suggests carving out a routine, even on the move. Set aside definite work hours, early morning or late night, to keep the rest of the day free for exploration.
When async meetings are not feasible, be flexible and responsible in showing up for real-time meetings. Plus, use a good quality noise reduction headset for calls from noisy places. One, to hear the meeting participants, and two, not annoy nearby folks with your call volume.
Our experts advise stashing away an emergency fund, like 100 USD, and keeping a spare credit card as a backup. Pragyan adds, "An emergency fund isn't just about tackling problems, but also about grabbing unexpected opportunities!"
Post-Travel Reflections 📝🌍
Michael counsels travelers to remember that travel is about the experience, not luxury, advising, "Focus on the people and places, than the cost."
Pragyan emphasizes the importance of setting modest expectations always to be pleasantly surprised and insists on maintaining a daily expense sheet for savvy budgeting.
Equipped with these tips, we hope you'll trek more freely globally. Remember, your mission is to savor the journey, soak up the experiences, and create priceless memories. Happy travels! ✈️🌍💙
Get on board for a new destination.
FAQ from the Audience
Q: What are some ways to save on transportation?
A: Pragyan recommends harnessing public transportation or bicycle or motorbike rental services in many cities.
Q: How can I save on food costs while traveling?
A: Michael and Pragyan suggest visiting local, non-touristy restaurants or street food vendors.
Q: Any tips for solo female travelers?
A: Pragyan underscores the importance of research, particularly about safety, and recommends touching base with local female travelers or expats for firsthand tips and advice.