I am currently writing from the sweet little village of Forvik, Norway. Norway is a place that has been on my hit list of places I would like to visit for a while, mostly because of the incredible scenery but also because I have been longing to see the Aurora borealis ever since I was a little girl. I have a pretty exciting itineray lined up for the next couple of months and I managed to make all of it happen with very little cash. I wanted to share a few tips on how to travel with very little money. Life should not be limited by your bank balance.
My top tips for travelling without breaking the bank…
WWOOF. I am a huge fan of wwoof.net which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. If you are interested in organic farming, whether it be growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, doing maintenance work, looking after livestock, making cheese… this may be perfect for you. You will gain many invaluable skills and knowledge from your time spent WWOOFing which you can incorporate into your life back home. In exchange for working 5 days a week (usually, this varies from farm to farm) from anywhere between 4 and 8 hours a day you are fed delicious food and given a bed to sleep in. Of course you may be the one making the dinner… You get free time in the evenings and usually two days off a week. Other great websites for working holidays include Work Away, HelpX and The Poosh.
Help out family and friends. My dear friend asked me if I would fancy coming out to Norway to help a family member with childcare whilst they were between au pairs. I’ll admit I hesitated for a wee while whilst I figured out the logistics of being away from home for an extended time. I spoke with my other wonderful friend who had recently cycled the length of Norway and she convinced me I would have the best time. After speaking with her I said a big fat YES! Now that I’m here I know for sure that it was the right decision to make, I’m so thankful for the opportunity I have been given to see such a beautiful place. I’ve never looked after children before but I’m kind of figuring it out as I go along. In exchange for accomodation, food and a small amount of pocket money my job is to collect the children from school, make dinner and keep the house tidy. The rest of my time is free time to explore a beautiful part of the world.
Take a hike! There’s no better way to really see a country than to travel slow, by the power of your own two legs. Campsites are cheap (mostly – some can cost a lot more if they have lots of facilities), wild camping is free. Wild camping is legal in the Scottish hihlands and on Dartmoor, though technically illegal in the rest of England and Wales generally if you arrive late and leave early, being very mindful of the environment any farmland and local people I’ve heard it can be done. Cook your own food and have a jolly good time living simply and enjoying much.
Look around for flights. I always check SkyScanner first whenever I have to fly anywhere. Always search for flights in an incognito window. If you search for flights in a regular search engine window the sneaky internet will track your cookies and increase the price a little bit every time you check for a better deal. Search for flights leaving from airports a little further from home. I live very close to Bristol airport, however this is a small airport and so is not always the cheapest. However it is cheap to travel via bus to Birmingham, London and Manchester, all major airports that generally have much cheaper flights. For my forthcoming trip over the pond, I found a flight from Dublin for almost half the price of the flights out of London. Of course this is all a time / cost analysis that you will have to figure out for yourself. If your time is precious, it may be worth going from the nearest airport. Conversely if time is not of the essence but you are strapped for cash you may be willing to endure a longer journey to reach your destination.
Rent out your room, flat or house. If you are going to be away for an extended amount of time, rent your room out! Renting to a friend is the best option but if you don’t know of anybody looking for accomodation you could try renting through airbnb or GumTree. Of course you will have to have somebody back home to greet the guests and clean between guests, I’m sure you have friends needing extra funds for their travels / beer money that would be more than happy to help.
Borrow equipment. I really hate buying things that I know I will only be using once or twice which I will then gather dust and clutter up my personal space. For my current trip I needed a large wheeled bag. I really didn’t want to buy one as I know I will not need one again for a long time and I have very limited storage space back home. I figured I would put a quick post on Facebook to see if anybody had something suitable I could borrow. Hey Presto! My friend lent me the perfect wheeled duffle bag, a norweigan phrase book and a michellin man style down coat! Perfect! I was also offered a kindle by my friend which I decided not to bring as I had several books lined up for my travels. Of course I will be rewarding my generous friends with some trinkets and delicious goodies from far away lands.
Take plenty of snacks. Aside from the 30 nakd bars and sack full of chocolate and nuts to be found in my hold bag (hey, you never know when the apocolypse might happen)… my carry on bag had to contain enough food to sustain me for two full days of travelling before I was to arrive at my destination in Norway. There was no way I was going to hand over £8 for a sub standard sandwich! Food at airports and on airplanes is always so overpriced, unsatisfying and associated with a whole load of plastic waste. Food in Norway is the most expensive in the world, especially so when at airports and rail stations. I packed pasta, sandwiches, chocolate, oranges, nuts and mashed sweet potato.. I wasn’t sure if I would get through security with my mashed potatoes, I wondered whether they would classify it as a liquid or a gel but it was no problem. If I was to buy all of my meals at the airport or in Norway I could have easily spent £100 of my hard earned dough.
Buy bus and train tickets in advance. It varies in each country but I know in England you can save upto 70% of the ticket fare if you book your tickets in advance, even by just a few days. Of course the advanced ticket is usually not refundable (you can transfer Megabus tickets for a small charge of 50p) and you have to get your butt in the right seat at the right time.
Carry a water bottle! If going through an airport take an empty one and ask for tap water at any of the bars or cafes inside. If travelling on foot, or overland by public transport ask at any pub, cafe, bar and the staff will always be happy to fill your bottle if you ask politely. Many places have water fountains that you can also use free of charge.
Carry a reusable bag. Most countries charge for plastic bags. Carry your own environmentally friendly bag and you’ll be saving the planet and your pennies at the same time! I love the Onya Bags, they fold up to virtually nothing and are made of super strong parachute material so they are pretty indestructable.
Questions for you..
What are your top tips for travelling on a budget?
Where would you like to travel next?
Have you ever had a working holiday? Tell me about your experience!
Har det bra!