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How to Save Money on World Travel
A lot of people fantasize about taking a round-the-world trip, but many put it off indefinitely due to financial limitations. Coming up with the money is the hardest part of a trip like that for most people, but with a little advance planning there are some steps you can take to save money on world travel.
Do It Yourself
Work with a friend if you want, but if your goal is to save money, avoid package tours. Although groups can get good bargains in certain situations, you will also end up paying overhead costs like tour guides and travel planners for things you could be doing yourself. Once you're traveling, don't pinch pennies unnecessarily, but do keep in mind that things like cooking in your hostel rather than going out, and washing your own laundry (in a sink, if allowed) can add up to significant savings over the course of your trip.
A round-the-world ticket is a good bet. Many agencies sell these packages, and you will definitely save money compared to buying each leg of the flight individually. You save the most by choosing a pre-made package deal of popular locations, which is cheaper than picking your own itinerary, so shop around and see if you can find something appealing before making too many plans. If you do design your own package, keep in mind that you may be able to travel certain legs of your trip by land rather than air, and that this is often cheaper. The exception to this rule may be Europe, where train travel packages are well known but expensive, and short hop airfare can actually be very affordable.
Check out rates for airfare and accommodations at your destinations. Often travel costs vary widely depending on the tourist season and local weather conditions. Also consider the money you can save by traveling in the winter to avoid hefty bills at home.
If you do take long trips on trains or buses, pick overnight trips if you can. If you can sleep while you travel, you can save on the cost of a hotel and the time to do things during the day.
Since transportation is usually the most expensive part of budget travel, you will save money by spending more time in less places. Try not to cut out places that you really want to go, but do realize that even for a long trip, traveling around in the area of three to five general destinations could save you a lot over more shorter stops. Of course, this is an especially good idea for inexpensive destinations. For example, when I planned my round-the-world trip, I did visit Japan and Australia briefly, but I stayed much longer in Thailand and India, where the cost of living is much cheaper. If you're staying in one town more than a week, look into budget rates on hostels. For stays over a month, you may be able to get a short term rental on an apartment, which can save you even more.
Especially in cheap locations, you might be amazed at how much you can spend on alcohol, which doesn't decrease in price as much as most local foods. While drinking with travel buddies and new friends can be fun, it can also eat up a shocking amount of your travel budget if you don't pay attention. If you really want to drink, you can still save some money by buying your own bottles instead of individual drinks in a bar or restaurant.
Most Americans will have a hard time working for pay while traveling internationally, but if you can develop a portable source of income (like writing for Hubpages) you may be able to supplement your travel funds with a few dollars here and there. If you do regular freelancing that you can conduct online, you can make just as much money as you would at home anywhere that you have access to the internet.
Pack Light and Walk
Some travel guides suggest laying out everything you want to pack and then putting away half of it. That's a pretty good idea for a lot of reasons (including the fact that you may have to pay extra for checked luggage if you have more than one carry-on), but one of them is related to transportation. I have saved a lot on local transportation by walking everywhere I can, which is much easier when all you have to carry is a backpack. With more time than money to burn, most travelers should consider walking a lot more than they do. Sure, it might take a couple of hours to get to your destination, but what else are you doing? It's a nice way to see a new place, you'll get a free workout and you can stop whenever you want if something interesting comes up.