One of the few questions any long-term traveler gets is “How do you afford it?” While I find it truly abrasive and personal, I tend to overlook the brashness and look at it more like intense curiosity. I mean, I don’t comment on my friends’ baby pictures and say “How on earth do you afford that?!” Yet, alas, on almost any of my travel-related posts I get asked the same question over and over again.
It may shock a few of you to know that 1.) I’m not royalty, 2.) I don’t have a trust fund and 3.) I didn’t win the lottery. Yet, I’ve traveled to over 30 countries, lived in Australia for a year and now live in Thailand – all on my own money. I just worked really hard, allocated my money towards different priorities, and made that dollar sign stretch as far as it can go. You don’t have to have too much cash to have a great time in cities such as Budapest, where you and your friends can party like an animal on a shoestring budget. Plus, in Budapest, you can find an array of fun activities for you and your friends to enjoy, such as shooting – which you can find out more about at somewhere like https://stagmadness.com/blog/shooting-budapest if you’re interested in Budapest as a location for a bachelor party or stag night.
And here’s how you can stretch your money while travelling too:
Sleep on a couch
Couchsurfing friends in Barcelona, Spain
Some of my all time favourite memories of travelling through Europe were the ones with my couchsurfing friends. It may sound a bit creepy, but it’s totally not. In exchange for a couch or sometimes even a room to sleep in, the hosts just want to hang out with you, learn about new cultures and make new friends. I couchsurfed in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Munich, Frankfurt, Budapest and others. I made great friends and saved a few bucks.
Make your own tours
It may be really enticing to just take a day trip and not have to worry about maps, how to get to certain landmarks, language barriers, etc. Usually, these tours run three or four times higher than if you do it yourself. What we usually do is find a tour we like, take a picture of the itinerary, and go find a local taxi driver or longtail boat driver and see what price they can give us for the exact same tour. Sure, it may be minus the lunch and super informative guide, but we’ve saved hundreds of dollars by doing this over the years and it gives back to the local economy.
While the street food may not always look the safest, I can guarantee you it’s the cheapest and the tastiest. If you’re looking for an authentic meal, street food is always the way to go. Many times on long train rides, we bought a loaf of bread, some salami and cheese and a bottle of wine, and split it amongst ourselves for dinner. In Austria, we bought giant pretzels for 3 Euros daily. In Berlin, we bought curry-wurst for 2 Euros. In Thailand, we can buy pretty much any type of food we want for less than $3 USD. Not always looking for the shiniest or most “Western” restaurant is your best bet on saving money on food in a foreign country.
Tasty street food in Budapest
If you’re in a country where haggling or bartering is appropriate, then by all means go for it! I’m naturally terrible at bargaining, but I’ve learned that the price can drop drastically (sometimes even in half) if you’re persistent and also respectful. This can go for anything – from clothes to taxis to massages. As long as you’ve done your research and know what is the normal rate, as opposed to the foreigner rate, then you’ll have the power to lower your costs.
There are many ways you can stretch your money while travelling. You just have to be on the lookout. You may not eat at the beautiful restaurant on the beach, but you’ll have the most authentic eating experience. Sure, sleeping on a couch isn’t nearly as comfortable as a fluffy king-sized bed, but you made great friends in a new city. Travelling isn’t a budget-breaking lifestyle if you don’t want it to be. Frugality is always out there, and it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on the fun.
ABOUT: KP is an official Outbound Ambassador. Florida-born, Thailand-based. KP has travelled to 31 countries, studied in 3 and lived in 3 – all before turning 23. In between trips, KP likes to practice yoga, write, run on the beach and plan the next big adventure.