Transport is one of the biggest costs when travelling, especially if you’re going on a long-distance trip: those airfares can really cut into your budget. But there are ways of saving money on getting around.
1. Do your research!
First of all, don’t just do what you’ve always done, or what everyone else does, just because it’s easy that way. If you really want to save money, you’ll need to do a bit of research into what transport options are available and which is the cheapest. Combining several forms of transport will almost certainly be your best bet, but different options will be better in different locations.
2. Choose alternative routes
Look into travelling to and from alternative airports if that’s feasible.
This is especially helpful with flights: Of course you’ll have to factor in the cost of getting to these secondary airports, but you could save a lot. Similarly, if a train or bus company offers a great deal on a route that’s not exactly what you’re after, it might still be worth considering if you can get to and from the start and end points.
3. Look into other forms of transport (boat, bus, plane)
Open your mind! There’s usually plenty of different options, some better than others. We often caught a coach from England to Scotland, purely because of price — but a train would have been more comfortable and a flight would have been faster. However, if you’re time rich and cash poor, a slower option might be available.
4. Keep an eye out for special deals
We’ve already mentioned cheap tickets, but there are other special deals around too. Maybe you can’t afford a campervan — but if you relocate one from one hub to another, it can be very cheap. Some tour companies offer last-minute discounts to fill seats on a bus — even if you don’t normally do tours, this could save you a fair bit. Or if they’re starting a new route, a hop-on hop-off company could have some special offers going.
If you’re travelling alone, hiring a car could be prohibitively expensive. But you could get together with a group of like-minded travellers and hire a car together, or use a ride sharing service if you’re just going from one point to another.
The long-haul journeys are the ones that really eat your money. Of course, do your research online to compare prices across companies.
1. Buy tickets in advance
Most of the time, the further in advance you book, the cheaper your trip will be. Train companies, budget airlines, and buses often have a certain number of seats available at a low price, and once they’re sold out, the price goes up; you have to get in early to get the cheapest fares. Other companies don’t do this, they charge the same regardless of when you buy — in this case I’d recommend looking around for better offers before you buy.
2. Buy then sell a car
In some places, buying a car isn’t too expensive — and it’s certainly cheaper than hiring one for a long trip. Plus you can sell it when you’ve finished your journey and make some of your money back. This is especially true in New Zealand, where changing ownership is pretty easy too. Travellers Auto Barn in Australia will sell you a fully equipped van and guarantee to buy it back off you (at a much lower price of course) if you can’t find another buyer — that’s a huge relief!
Some people seem to hop in a taxi at the drop of a hat — which is a great way to waste money! Sure, in some places (notably in Peru) travelling by taxi is the only way to get around, and it’s very affordable. But this isn’t the case everywhere.
1. Use public transport
Not only are buses and trains usually cheaper than taxis, they’re a great chance to see a different side of a city or town. I always feel like I see more on a bus because I have to be aware of when to get off, and trains and metros have the advantage of not being on the road — so they won’t get caught in traffic.
You might also be able to combine local buses and trains to make a longer journey than if you’d paid for the intercity equivalent. In Spain and Italy, regional trains are a lot cheaper than the intercity ones, though the journey is longer and might require more changes.
2. Walk or cycle
Walking is a great option for saving money, plus you see more because you’re travelling slowly. And it’s completely free! Hiring a bike can be a great option too — sometimes hostels have them available for use at a nominal price.
Rail Passes and RTW Plane Tickets
Rail and bus Passes
We’ve covered rail passes in such detail on Indie Travel Podcast, that we won’t repeat it here. A good place to start is asking, Should I use Eurail or Interail, How to book a Eurail Pass How to use a Eurail Pass. Similar pros and cons can be considered for all rail and bus passes.
The cost vs reliability vs flexibility issues that Rail and Bus passes bring up can be applied to flights too: but the risks and potential advantages are significantly higher. Always be sure to check how fixed you want your plans to be; and if point-to-point tickets might not be cheaper; using the tools we described above.
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