12 Ways To Survive Traveling With Little Money

Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 28 February 2011   •  Tips


One of the major factors in traveling is none other than budget. My friends’ comments suggest that I’m sort of a rich person who’s so lucky to be able to travel more often than they do. It’s not just me, a lot of my friends of the same hobby and habit get a lot of that kind of comments, too. When in fact, we know we really don’t have that much and a lot of times we’re broke.

So how come we travel so much? How can we afford it? Well, other than the urge and passion to go see places, I can only share with you a dozen stuff that I’ve acknowledged and applied so far. So, here are a few tips to travel with little money (because without it entirely would be undesirable). Who knows, they might work for you too.

1. Skip the Starbucks hangout and take the bus.

Basically, save up. Socializing is good, but you probably can find some ways to do it cheaper, or reduce the amount of hanging out. I’m not against Starbucks, I’m using this as an example referring to what my friend Sacha actually said to me a few years ago about me rarely hanging out with her and our friends (and Starbucks was their favorite place because of the coffee and it was downstairs to our office) because I was broke. But the next thing she knew, I was traveling to Bangkok, Belitung, Bali, and other places (hey, why all B’s?). I didn’t even realize it then, but I guess that’s just a matter of priority. Aside from the fact that I’m not a coffee drinker, I choose to hangout at cheaper places or make house parties. I reduce taking the cabs and instead taking the bus more. I was a middle class worker with a huge urge to see the world, and saving up was one way that I knew how to do it. 

Indonesia Travel - Jakarta


2. Hunt for promo tickets.

More and more airlines have promos to get us book for their flights way in advance. I’ve had some benefits from the Air Asia promos, like flying Jakarta-Balikpapan-Jakarta only for IDR 180,000, having purchased the tickets several months in prior. Of course, less money sometimes means less convenience. Sometimes the route gets closed down only months before the flight dates, or the flight gets rescheduled. But sometimes it does work to your benefit. Just try it!

3. Online booking.

Hotel reservations and tickets are sometimes cheaper when you book online rather than booking right then and there at the reception on the D-day. But of course this doesn’t happen to some lodges in remote areas of Indonesia where they’re probably not even connected with the Internet.

4. Know how to drive.

Seriously, this can cut a lot of budget. I had to prove other wise the hard way. I was traveling mostly solo in Bali last month, and because I didn’t know how to drive (lame, I know), I had to rent a car AND the driver. I didn’t go the ‘backpacker’s way – hopping on and off buses or even hitchhiking –  because there were too many places I needed to go to (a downside of mixing work and my own travel plans) and too little time. And if you go to places like Bali and Tana Toraja, it would also be an advantage if you knew how to ride a motorbike since it’s cheaper and great for sight seeing. Except when it rains a lot. 

Indonesia Travel - Solo

5. Make buses and trains your hotels.

Another way to save accommodation budget is by taking night trains, buses, and ferries. Downside is, you can’t see much scenery, but not all scenery is worth your $15-50. Tips: make sure you got your most valuable things in your person or near you. You can make your backpack as your pillow or even wrap it in your arms while sleeping like you would to your lovers..hee hee..

 6. Travel with mates.

You’ll be able to share almost everything, ‘nuff said.

Indonesia Travel - ujung kulon


7. Use your networking.

Most of Indonesians (and perhaps Asians in general) are kind enough to have you crash at their homes. Make sure you’ve had good relationships with them in the past. Or, friends of mine have been users of website like couchsurfing.org and the likes (ie. travelersfortravelers.com, Hospitalityclub.org). Even if they can’t have you crash in at the time, they can show you around or maybe lend you their internet for free. Some things you have to remember: behave, mind your manners, wash after meals, and don’t forget to brush your teeth.

Indonesia Travel - Bali


8. Research and plan ahead.

Being spontaneous is awesome cos it brings you surprises and surprises are one of traveling’s best gift ever. However, when you have a budget concern, researching about your destinations and planning a bit wouldn’t hurt. Don’t worry, researching and planning still allow you to improvise. It simply means having a more efficient travel, such as the routes. It’s far cheaper when you go along the cities from east to west on Java island and then on to Bali, for example, rather than entering Indonesia from Jakarta, then take the train to Yogyakarta, back to Bandung, to Jakarta again and then fly to Bali and fly back to your country from Jakarta. You’d know that by looking at the map and browsing for train or plane tickets. This applies to places within a small island as well cos it can affect to car rentals, etc.

 9. Spare some for shopping.

I love shopping and when traveling I’d love to bring home some souvenirs. I bet you would too. Browsing about their local crafts can help you avoid getting scammed. Some sellers claim their souvenirs to be authentic when in fact I can get the exact same items in other cities, even in Jakarta malls, and some even have “made in China” tags (and I wasn’t traveling in China). So, be careful with what you purchase, you don’t wanna give away money for some fakes. And I strongly believe that you shouldn’t shop with empty stomach. Hunger makes bad decisions. I’ve been a victim for quite a few times..


Indonesia Travel - Martapura


10. The 20% Extra.

Don’t forget to add a contingency post in your travel budgeting. You’d never know what could come up. You might be suddenly intrigued to get a diving license in Bali, miss a flight and gotta buy a new ticket, or break some chairs and bottles when getting in a bar fight..hehe.. I think 20% of the whole budget would do. And this is after you rounded up every post in your budgeting. Even though you’re going thrifty, there’s no reason not to spare any money for contingency. Better be overbudgeting than sorry.

 11. Avoid peak seasons, weekends, and national holidays.

Traveling in the weekdays is best applicable for those who have flexible work days. But for those who don’t, you can still use your annual leaves. Just be wise not to get caught up with ‘holiday season’ or long weekends, which means upgraded prices mainly for hotels and transportations.

 12. Submit your travel stories.

If you have the knack for writing, but has not been doing it for professional purpose, don’t be afraid to try submit your travel stories to magazines or whatever that has a travel story section. I recommend that you make an agreement first before actually submitting your story to avoid your piece being featured without you getting paid. The fee that you get might not be as much as most people would think (my friends think I make much more than I actually do from this part time job of mine), but it’s not bad, at least you can make some money from your fun travel and buy more promo tickets (yay!). Oh don’t forget to check out some websites that give out tips and tricks in making good travel photos.  


What are your tricks in budget traveling?  

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