Southeast Asia is an exotic getaway, quickly gaining popularity with travelers because you can easily travel there for less than $35 a day. If a tight budget has been holding you back from your dream vacation, take a moment to learn how to make it happen without breaking the bank.
Destinations on a Budget
As is always the case with international travel, many of the best experiences you can have in Southeast Asia are absolutely free. You can usually see historical sites for free or very cheap, and walking the streets to experience the region the way the locals do will never cost you anything. If you really want to visit well-known tourist attractions, do it during the week, and try to avoid any major holidays. In general, avoiding tourist season when you travel will help you beat the crowds and reduce the price of food, lodging, and tickets.
Find a Travel Companion
Although solo backpacking adventures have a certain romantic appeal, you can save huge on travel costs by splitting the bill with a travel companion or two. It is estimated that a solo traveler will spend about $35 a day when traveling Southeast Asia, but a couple will spend only $50. When you travel with friends, you can split costs such as lodging and taxis which will end up saving you quite a bit of money in the long run.
Getting Around in Southeast Asia
If you are only traveling short distances, you should walk whenever possible. In many cases, you can save money when traveling longer distances by asking for a lift. Taxis and tuk-tuks are always options, but will add expense to the trip. Buses and trains are available for longer distances. Renting a bike or a motorbike is often the cheapest and most versatile option for any distance, short or small. If you know how to ride a motorcycle or are willing to learn, this is one of the best options for getting around.
Getting a Room
If you can find a willing local, asking for a homestay can save you a ton of money on lodging. Alternatively, you can bring or rent a tent and make it a camping trip. If you must stay in a hotel, shop around for the lowest price and split the cost with someone if possible. You might have to sacrifice a little comfort to make the trip work on a budget, but you didn’t travel across the world for comfort. Years from now, you will remember the life-changing trip you took, not the uncomfortable cot in a cheap hostel.
World travelers often get homesick for food before anything else, and American chains know how to take advantage of this. Wherever you go, you’ll probably find Starbucks and McDonalds waiting for you, offering inferior food at ten times the price of local alternatives. Give local dishes and street foods a try. Not only will you save money, but you’ll get a lot more out of the experience. The same goes for drinks, local craft beer is cheaper, and often way better than the brands you are used to.
If you want souvenirs to commemorate your trip or to gift to friends back home, skip souvenir shops looking to gouge tourists. By shopping at local markets or small malls, you can find trinkets that are not only more authentic but priced for locals. Also, keep in mind that prices here may not be as fixed as in Western cultures. If you are comfortable doing so, learning to barter might save you a lot in the long run.
One of the biggest costs of travel is not the cost of the trip itself, but the opportunity cost of taking time away from work. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to make money while you travel. If you have a teaching certificate, you can teach English in local language centers. In addition to finding local work, you can do freelance work online, such as article writing or design work. This is a great option since you can continue to get paid in American dollars, which are currently very strong compared to Southeast Asian currencies.
Get More for Less
With a little research and planning, you can drastically cut the cost of a trip through Southeast Asia. Overall, the best way to save money is to fully embrace the local experience of your destination. Not only will you get a lot more out of the trip if you immerse yourself in the culture, but you will find that lodging, diners, and markets that cater to locals are far cheaper than tourist traps.
About the Author:
Peter Hanson is a motorcycle enthusiast and expert on motorcycle travel. He loves to travel and has covered a lot of countries over the past eight years. In each country, he takes the time to record his impressions.
Visit his blog to read more articles about motorcycle traveling and helpful tips!