Before having a child, budget travel for us meant hostel dorms, 2 minute noodles for dinner, and always choosing the cheapest travel option – even if it had 4 stops and took 20 hours longer than a more direct route.
But now that’s all changed, and “budget” means something completely different (so I guess this is a disclaimer: if you want a guide on how to travel as cheap as possible – this post isn’t it). We still do our best to save money where we can, and for the most part I think we do pretty well!
There are certain things we really value now that we didn’t before – somewhere with a swimming pool being one of them! Gaia absolutely loves swimming, and its a free activity that we can all enjoy. But there are also some things that haven’t changed – for example, we still eat 2 minute noodles for dinner some nights when we’ve hit our budget for the day. So in this post we thought we would share our top tips for cutting costs while on the road.
Shop at a local market, or go to a supermarket to stock up on snacks. Most hotel rooms will have a small fridge and kettle, so we buy snacks like fruit, muesli bars, biscuits, and 2 minute noodles. Ideally things we can keep in our bag and take out each day (or make in our room with a kettle). This has definitely saved us from being caught out and overpaying for food on so many occasions!
WALK or USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
We love walking around a new town/city, so we try to do this whenever possible. If we are going somewhere that is really too far to walk, then we will opt for public transport over a taxi to save money (and it’s a cool experience!). So many places also have great public transport. In Singapore, the MRT is super clean, air conditioned, and really fast, it’s probably more exciting for us because good public transport is something NZ really lacks.
CHOOSE FREE ACTIVITIES
We mostly do FREE activities when we travel! We don’t often spend money going to tourist attractions, and most places have so many things you can do for free – especially with kids. We love being in nature – going on walks, to beaches or local parks, and as mentioned above – we always try and get a place with a swimming pool (and we spend many hours in it). Most cities also have free museums or galleries, so definitely check out what cool free things you can do on your next trip.
This is one of the biggest costs of any trip. What is great value to one person will be different for the next, but we generally opt for guesthouses or budget hotels, and we normally go for a rate that includes breakfast. Location is also key for us, so it can be a balancing act, depending on your priorities. We love sharing where we stay as we go, so make sure to keep an eye out for the places we’ve loved! In Asia our rough budget is $50 a night (or less).
EAT LIKE A LOCAL (& don’t leave leftovers!)
Find out where the locals eat and go there – you won’t regret it. The food will be great and you won’t pay ‘tourist’ prices. The best place we ate in Bali was a local Warung, recommended by our hotel manager, and in Malaysia we found the most delicious (and totally local) spot to get bao buns, just by walking past and taking a chance. We also always carry a small Tupperware container or lunchbox with us, so whenever we buy a meal out, we can take our leftovers with us to have later. This doesn’t just save money, it also saves waste!
We hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas on how you can save money when you travel – perhaps they are things you do already, or maybe there’s something new you can try!
If you’d like to follow our adventure you can subscribe to GOOD FOR GAIA on YouTube and join us as we travel with our toddler.