If I had to tell, which question I got asked the most in the past couple of years, it would be, how I finance my excessive traveling. And the answer is simple: by setting priorities. Of course I also have some travel hacks, how to find cheap hotels and flights. You don't have to win the lottery to fulfill your dream of a world trip. I will tell you 12 hacks, how to finance your trip around the world.
Saving money before the trip
You can save a lot of money for your travels already before booking trips, trains and hotels. And you don't have to miss out on anything for that.
1. Declutter your home
Most of people's money is hidden in closets, basements and attics. So why not just throwing everything out? Work your way through your house (yes, also the boxes that you take with you every time you move and never even open) and think with every piece, if you really need it in your life. If you don't - toss it. I have a small box, in which I keep my most important memories. Apart from that, everything that I don't need in my daily life has to go. Who needs crazy amounts of clothes, pictures or stuff that is only for decoration purposes if they can see the most beautiful places on earth instead?
Same with your closet: Every piece, that you don't wear at least once a month, has to go. It fascinates me, what kind of stuff people keep in their closets - just because it there, it was a present or they completely forgot about it. You will be surprised, how much money people are willing to pay for things that you don't need anymore. But the most important is, that you will free incredibly light afterwards.
2. Overlook your finances
When was the last time, you really paid attention to how much you spend on what every month? I am no fan of detailed excel tables (although they can be helpful) but you should try to find out, where your money goes and if that is all necessary. Set priorities and ask yourself if it is worth to forgo your dream vacation for eating out for the tenth time in a month.
While you are on it, why not also check insurances and electricity suppliers ? Many of your insurances you mostly don't even need, so sorting out is a smart thing to do.
3. Save wisely
If you know exactly, how much money you need in one month, it isn't that hard to save the rest. Transfer it to your savings account - at the beginning of the month, not at the end, so you don't get tempted to use it for other purposes.
4. Unnecessary luxury
There is probably more than one opinion, when it comes to the question what is unnecessary and what isn't. But it is common knowledge, that we all have too much stuff. If you have the money to buy a 2000 Euro sofa and still go on vacation twice a year, then go for it. If you are one of the people who can afford either one or another, you should think with every thing you buy, if you just need it for short-term gratification or if it really adds value to your life and therefore is worth it, to spend a little of your travel fund for it.
The easiest, however, is saving the money where you spend it. If you are flexible (and you should be, if you want to go on a world trip), then the biggest saving potential is during the booking process.
5. Find cheap flights
If you want to save a lot, you will also have to make some sacrifices. How many, is up to you. Since I started paying attention to my carbon footprint, I try to avoid stop-offs and book direct flights. And of course, they are a little more expensive.
Since there is Skyscanner and its flexible search form, the whole booking thing got a lot easier. You just fill in the country from where and to where you want to go, not the exact city. So if the cheapest flight is to Sao Paulo and not to Rio, you look for different options to get to your destination. Buses are not only the most environmental friendly, but also the cheapest alternative. Like that, your flight often becomes a lot cheaper than a direct flight to your destination.
Tip: If you cannot avoid changing flights, you can also simply book your connecting flight yourself. Almost all flights to Mexico City have a stopover in Cancún, for example. I always book my flight from Cancún to Mexico City directly with the Mexican airline Volaris (the same flight that is also used by Condor) and thus save money. Reminder:You usually have to check in your luggage again during the stopover, even if you book a flight with only one airline. But make sure that you leave enough time between both flights. If the first flight is delayed and you miss the second one, no one is liable.
Always keep in mind that every additional flight emits enormous amounts of CO2. So if at all possible, you should try to fly direct. Traveling overland is still the best option, of course.
It's the same with travel time. Instead of committing yourself to a specific time period, you should look at the entire month (as is now possible with many comparison tools) and compare which day would be the best for your flights.
Multi-stop and open jaw flights
The perfect option to extend your trip and save money at the same time are multi-stop or open jaw flights. With multi-stop flights, you usually book your trip from one place to another and back again, but you can plan stopovers. For example, your journey can take you from Frankfurt via Costa Rica to Mexico and the return flight from Mexico via Panama back to Frankfurt. In the end, you usually pay less than you would for a direct flight and can spend as much time as you like at your stopovers.
An open jaw flight uses the same system, but does not take you back to your starting point. For example, your flight goes from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, from Johannesburg to Cape Town and from there back to Cologne. This flight was also a lot cheaper than a direct Frankfurt-Cape Town and return flight.
Hand luggage only
Cheap airlines are financed solely by insanely overpriced luggage. So if you decide on Ryanair and Co., you should be aware that you will have to make it with a small backpack for your entire trip. By now, with Ryanair you have to pay so much more even for a small hand luggage suitcase that the price does not differ from that of a better airline. If you want to know, how to travel for months with hand luggage only, read my article about traveling as a minimalist.
The time you chose to book your flight is not relevant. You don't have to get out of bed at four o'clock on a Wednesday morning because you've heard that special bargains are made at that time. Another rumour is that if you search a comparison portal for a certain flight route again and again, the price will automatically increase each time.
6. Find cheap hotels
Depending on how flexible you are, you can either look for a hotel directly on site without having booked in advance or you can at least build a rough route with some important overnight stays in advance. Of course, you can also plan your entire trip from home - but this can be a bit difficult if you are traveling around the world for several months. I usually book the accommodation for my upcoming destination during the last days that I spend at one place. This way you don't arrive completely haphazardly, but you always remain flexible.
Hotel search through Google
Forget all the other hotel comparison sites. All you have to do is type "Hotels in..." into Google search. You can then look directly on the map to see which region or district you would like to go to and how expensive the hotels are there. You will also find the star rating right next to it. So you can compare directly if you want to make some concessions or at least find the cheapest option at your desired location.
Budget hotel or resort
Like always, it depends on your personal preferences. If you don't have much time, because you work full-time, but earn good money, you can of course treat yourself to a 5-star luxury holiday, if you like it. However, if you prefer to go away several times a year and the country and the area are more important to you than your actual accommodation, hostels or budget hotels are also an option. In many resorts you pay twice as much for a night as for a several-week holiday in a hostel. Especially if you travel alone, you will meet people much faster in hostels anyway. Personally, I hardly sleep in hostels anymore (at least not in shared rooms), but I always look for the best price-performance ratio.
If you really want to stay in a great hotel with a private beach, save it for the last night as a little bonus as long as your budget allows.
But if you are really interested in a country, you will, in my opinion, be able to cope with the most terrible accommodation before you have to give up your trip altogether.
Couchsurfing & Airbnb
A great way to get to know nice people for little money is to stay overnight in Airbnbs, where you can also rent just a room in your host's apartment. But even a whole apartment is often much cheaper than staying in a hotel - apart from the money you save by cooking for yourself.
Even cheaper or actually completely free of charge, is couchsurfing. I have couchsurfed countless times and have only had good experiences. Thanks to detailed reviews on the platform, it is usually no problem at all to find good hosts. Your host will usually give you a guided tour of the city or take you to a party if you feel like it.
7. Don't book everything at once
This tip is especially important if you are planning several stops on your journey. The first flight is okay, everything else should be booked on the spot or at least shortly before your arrival. Something can always come up and the money for the flight or the train ride is gone. In the end you pay double or triple. While traveling, you are guaranteed to meet other travelers who will give you valuable tips on how to get to your next destination and which places you just can't miss. Or maybe you like a place during your trip so much that you would rather stay for three months instead of the planned two weeks.
They say the best time to book long-haul flights is 14 weeks in advance. For flights within Europe, it is eight weeks. It will probably be difficult to stick to this rule on a trip that will last several months. The only thing you should really avoid are last-minute bookings - especially if you have decided on a specific destination.
Finance your world trip: During the trip
No matter if it is your fixed costs at home or the daily costs during your journey - while you are on the road there are countless possibilities to not only save money but even to earn it.
8. Sublet your apartment
The most radical way to maintain a stable income during your absence is to sublet your apartment. This is certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but it can finance your entire stay, especially in low-cost countries. If you are traveling for several months, you should definitely take advantage of this possibility. If you don't mind strangers in your apartment and you don't have many personal belongings to put away, you can leave your home to someone else for even a few nights during short holidays.
9. Stop fixed costs
Insurances, mobile phone contracts and Co. you can usually pause for several months or even a whole year. It's best to ask your providers directly - many are very accommodating.
To stay mobile, just buy a local SIM card at your destination - it's a lot cheaper than a contract and you don't have to rely on Wi-Fi all the time.
10. Earn money on the road: Work & Travel
The best opportunity to get to know new people and at the same time earn money to travel on is with a Work & Travel Visa. Find out in advance in which countries this is possible and how many hours you are allowed to work with it. In countries where you cannot get a Work & Travel visa, you can easily enter with a student visa, for example by booking a language course. Like that, you are allowed to work up to 80 hours per month. Of course, you don't have to do this in every country you visit. But after a trip of several months it is often quite nice not only to get some money in the till, but also to have something like a daily routine again.
11. Write about it!
Not every world traveler has to become a travel blogger right away. I rather think, you should only start a blog if you are really passionate about it, as it means a lot of unpaid work, especially in the beginning. But maybe you just came back from a really cool country and think you could pass on some real insider knowledge? Then offer to write an article about it for some online magazine. Are you a photographer or do you just take really good pictures? You can also make money out of that during your trip.
12. Saving money on the road: Do as the locals do
The only way not to spend more money during your trip than at home is not to behave any differently. That means not going out for a fancy dinner every night or taking a taxi everywhere. Do like the locals, use public transport, shop at the supermarket or buy something at the street stall around the corner. The longer you're on the road, the more likely you are to get a regular daily routine while traveling anyway and not feel like doing much of sightseeing or other tourist activities.
You see, there are plenty of ways to save money and even earn money both before and during your trip. It all depends on your priorities. If your travel destination is the most important thing for you, you will automatically be willing to forgo everything, that gets in the way of it. And now have fun financing your trip around the world!
How to start planning your trip?Read that here!