There’s no doubt about it; travel is exciting and a break from the ordinary. It’s a chance to kick back, take a well-earned break from ordinary day to day life and just chill. It’s a chance to take a break from the humdrum of chores, of cooking and of generally just having to adult your way through the week.
I always get so excited when we’ve got a trip planned. My head fills with all the things I can spend my day doing – some reading, a nice hike, a couple of hours rest on the sun lounger and perhaps some kayaking or cycling before trying out a new restaurant for dinner. Those things are all part of the experience to me.
However, two years ago (how is it two years already?!) we took a 4 month trip. Given the supersize nature of our 4 month, 4 continent trip, we couldn’t just make it one relaxed jaunt around resorts of the world – as fun as that might sound. This was a definite departure from our normal travel style and one we have welcomed with open arms. Our trip ethos is somewhat a two-pronged approach – we want to make our travels as cheap as we’re comfortable with whilst making things easy on ourselves.
And so, with that in mind, I wanted to share the things we did to help ourselves out.
ways we made our travel cheaper
using public transport
I’ll give us some credit where it’s due – using public transport is not a new concept to us. We generally use public transport when we’re navigating our way from the airport to the city centre if we’re on a city break. However, we have been known to get a taxi/Uber/Lyft if our time of arrival is late in the evening.
However, our attitude on our extended travel was definitely anti-taxi. Not that we wouldn’t use it in an emergency but we sought out public transportation as our first choice. It’s took a lot of research ahead of time to understand the options available – subway, tram, bus – the cost and planning the journey from origin to destination but the savings we made were so great that we really would encourage anyone travelling to use public transport over paying for taxis to get around.
I think our biggest public transportation was been getting from Prague airport into the city centre. I’d researched it would take us a bus and then a transfer to the metro to get us where we needed to be and how much a ticket would cost. We had to each buy an extra half ticket for our luggage but still our tickets and a half cost the equivalent of £3 to get us in the city centre – how can you argue with costs that low?!
we were away for 120 nights and I don’t know about you but I can’t stomach eating out for 120 nights. But it wasn’t just my stomach I was thinking about when we began hunting for accommodation for our trip. We saw that a clear way to keep costs down was to, where we could, book accommodation with a kitchen so that we could cook for ourselves. This mostly meant booking AirBnB’s and scrutinising the pictures closely to ascertain if what they list as a kitchen actually qualifies as something I can cook dinner in. Booking through AirBnB and other independent self catering accommodation worked out cheaper overall than continuous hotel stays.
Booking this type of accommodation where we can helped us keep food costs down considerably. We spent 3 nights in Amsterdam spent €42 (~£36) on all the food we needed for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the 3 days we were there. #win
supermarkets over convenience stores
I was careful to research ahead of time our grocery store options in the area we were staying in. Take the previous example of our Amsterdam stay – we chose to walk 20 minutes to a proper supermarket over a convenience store that was 2 minutes from our accommodation. Not only did the supermarket have much more choice but the prices were much cheaper meaning we were getting more value for money.
It’s not always achievable to get the type of grocery store you need but researching options ahead of time can help you save in the long run.
ways we made our travel easier
used a backpack as our luggage option
We were away for 4 months and travelled to 40 different locations. Bar two straight weeks in Hawaii near the end of our trip, we were pretty much on the move every 4-5 days.
Knowing this inevitable constant movement at the start of our planning allowed us to get smart with our packing. You can read all about what we packed here but the long and the short of it is, we both had luggage weighing between 9-10kgs. We chose to use backpacks that we already owned as our chosen pieces of luggage and it honestly was one of the best decisions we made.
I lost count of the amount of times whilst we were on the trip that we saw people struggle over cobblestones with their roller suitcase or try to heave said suitcase up the stairs of a train station, sweating and looking like they just want to chuck the suitcase on the tracks and be done with it. I’m not even trying to smug about it, all I’m trying to do is evangalise about the ease of moving around with our backpacks.
If your health allows (no shoulder/back trouble) I’d seriously recommend putting your luggage on your back and getting on with it. Call me a packhorse but there’s a certain satisfaction and ease with carrying everything I own on my back and having my hands free.
washing pods and a travel clothes line
We each had a week’s worth of clothes/underwear, which meant 17 weeks of washing our clothes. Early on in our trip planning we bought a travel clothes line that we foresaw as coming in pretty handy, which it definitely did. Where we had a washing machine in our accommodation, we generally also had a clothes airer but even though we really didn’t take many clothes with us, we still used our clothes line as the airer’s we had access to were on the petite side.
It wasn’t until a few days before we set sail that it occurred to me to buy some laundry pods and take those with us. I just assumed I’d pick them up along the way/purchase individual use detergent from launderettes but I realised that would actually work out quite pricey so grabbed some Sainsbury’s own brand washing pods.
I was hesitant to pack too much because of weight/space restrictions but the laundry pods I packed were not only super light but they easily tucked into a side pocket.
So, if you’re on the road in a situation where you need to wash your clothes a few times, consider stashing a few laundry pods in your luggage as not only a money saver but a sanity saver when you can’t find what you need in the local grocery store.
taking small shopper bags with us
We stashed a couple of small shopper bags in our luggage before we left thinking they might be one of those items that comes in handy. I’m glad we did as they came in extremely handy!
They took up no space at all and we used them in pretty much every location we went to. They were small and cheap but so useful, it’s a no brainer to take a couple with you on your next trip!