5 ways we’re cutting costs while traveling


You may have read our post about how we’re managing to save $2o ooo in 10 months for our trip around the world. But what about while on the road? The money we’re saving may sound like a lot but as we start traveling, we may quickly realize that it is not enough to roam around the world comfortably.


Well, fret not, as we’ve thought it all through – of course we did! Here are 5 ways we are cutting costs while traveling.


1. Workstays


Simply put, we’re avoiding hostel costs as much as possible. How? Through workstays. We have chosen to sign up for a work exchange program and so far, we have plans arranged in France, Spain, Portugal and Turkey. We’ll be volunteering at various spots (bed and breakfast, eco-hostels, yoga resort) in exchange for room and board. Not only is this a great way save money, we’ll have the chance to stay put for longer in more rural communities and having great cultural exchanges.


2. Groupon (daily deal websites)


Are you a subscriber to Groupon, or any of those daily deal websites? While home, I find the deals to be a little absurd, funny but fantastic too. Where else could I buy a $20 haircut and $15 kayak lesson online? It may seem like impulse shopping but while abroad, it’s a smart way to save cash. Simply sign up for a local daily deal site! I’ve already signed up for Groupon France and am loving the deals on hotels, restaurants, salons and tours, almost all 60% off and more. There is also Groupon Getaway which offers exclusive deals on package trips and hotels.


19€ instead of 60€ for all-you-can-eat crepes in Barcelona? Yes please!

3. Vaccines abroad


This may be our most controversial decision to date. But hear us out. After paying $110 for a doctor to sit down with us and tell us which vaccines and pills we should get (info that I already knew whilst reading online, FOR FREE) we realized how expensive our shots and medication would be. We’re talking a total of $1200 for the two of us. After talking to a couple of people that have traveled to Thailand, they’ve made us realize that you can get the same shots in Bangkok for WAY cheaper. Like, 90% cheaper. So, we’re sorry doctor, we won’t be buying your extensive list of medication. Especially not your diarrhea pill which we can get instead get for $10 over the counter.


4. International Driver’s License

Though it’s Matt who does all of the driving (yes, I have no license yet) this is key for rad adventures. There is no problem in taking the bus here and there but there are some countries that are just screaming roadtrip! For instance, it’s possible to rent a car with Sixt, get some snacks, some good music and go the distance. One of my dreams is to do a roadtrip through Spain and Portugal. Bringing some camping gear can also save some money and traveling on your own time is ideal!


4. Staying with friends and family


Aaah, never did family reunification sound so fantastic! Do you have a cousin living in Japan? Do you have an old university friend hanging out in Italy? CALL THEM! There is no better time to have a couch in a strange city and that’s exactly what we’re doing. I (Caro) happen to have 1 cousin in Spain and another in France (whom I never met!) and we’ll be staying with them since they so generously offered to host us. This is a great way to discover a city with someone living there and meeting their friends and way of life!


Freshly made apple juice and a hammock? Check! Caro, staying with her family in Uruguay.


5. Take it slow

We may call it a trip around the world but we definitely know that on our upcoming trip we won’t be seeing it all. We decided to take it as slow as we possibly could rather than becoming ”checklist travelers” looking to get as many stamps as possible. Embracing this decision will mean stays in apartment rentals where we can cook our own food or taking overland transportation is the time and price is worth it. This gives us the chance to get to know the places we visit better and hopefully get a better sense of a country’s culture and way of life.


Do you have any cost-cutting tips for us once we hit the road?

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  • Tracey – Life Changing Year

    We had our vaccinations in Thailand at the Thai Travel Clinic. Saved us over $2000 for a family of 5!! It’s a great idea for you not to get them at home. The consultation was $6 or something crazy!! Great ideas to save money on accommodation! It’s our biggest expense!!

    • Matt_PassportandaToothbrush

       We’re going to be doing that for sure! As expensive as it is for us, I cant imagine all the fees for a whole family!
      But our doctor was really good about it. He told us to do our research on the alternatives before we made a commitment to get them done here. And a good thing we did!

  • http://desireeeast.wordpress.com/ desireee east

    Oh, man, I totally feel your pain about the vaccinations! I have found that the biggest expense for us (besides accommodation) are food expenses…so, we always make it a point to find a place to stay that has a kitchenette so that we can cook our own meals when we feel like it :) Fortunately, we are in Bali right now, and we can find very cheap, and delicious local food!

    • Matt_PassportandaToothbrush

       Haha, yaaaaah it was a little bit of a shock when we had our doctor consultation about fees for vaccines! Ouch. But now seeing the option of getting in done in another country, without having to resort to eating sugar packets and drinking rain water for months…ya, ya I think we’ll do that.

  • Christopher Mikel

    Things such as dental care are even things you can do cheaply through legitimate doctors abroad as well. 

    COUCHSURFING.ORG is by far the best way I’ve found to save money while abroad, and at the same time make invaluable friends through the locals/expats that generously host you. Also couchsurfing allows you to have a place to cook meals, to sleep, and a local who’s out to show you a good time and be your friend. It’s important however to stay very respectful of their place/things/time/patience – Don’t come home wasted, don’t overstay your welcome, always have all your stuff packed and ready to go so it’s out of the way, don’t make a mess. Cook for your hosts, share stories with them, teach them something. These are all ways to give back so you’re not just using them for a free place. It ends up being a rich cultural exchange that’s unforgettable every time. Often times they also know all the cheap places to eat/drink, and have a billion ideas of how to save money in their own city creatively while having a good time. 

    BIKING – rent or borrow bikes from friends and explore the city that way, or on foot, it’s a great eco-friendly alternative to taking cabs, busses, or trains everywhere. In some places this is easier said than done, in others there is already an infrastructure set up for biking 

    • Matt_PassportandaToothbrush

       I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where we saved the majority of our money too! In the first leg of our trip in France, Spain and Portugal we already have some friends and family that we’re set up to stay with. After leaving Europe though, are contacts start to get slimmer. So we’ll be definitely looking to make connections with people along the way! It’s an invaluable part of traveling!

  • http://omnimail.blogspot.com/ Rachel

    Absolutely agree about CouchSurfing and similar social networks.  It was a great way to meet local folks when we were in New Zealand.  Our travel in Australia was organised around who we could stay with–we’re very lucky that friends offered to host us in some fantastic locations.  It’s saved us loads in accomodation and allowed us to spend more time getting to know different places.

    I don’t know how much time you’re planning to spend in NZ, but if you’re there for longer than 6 weeks and are considering getting a camper van, it is much more cost-effective to buy and resell than rent.  Along with this, camping can be a lot cheaper than hostelling. Happy to share our experiences with you if you want more info.

    • Matt_PassportandaToothbrush

       Thanks for the tips, Rachel! Yah, the plan as of today is to be in New Zealand for about 3 months. We’ve heard a little about getting a camper before, and it does sound like a pretty smart way to save some cash.
      Thanks again!

  • http://www.adventuringkiwis.com/ Anita

    Great list Caro!  We will be doing similar stuff when we take off next week :)

    • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

       Awesome!! Where you taking off to first?

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca/ Ayngelina

    When I started to burn out I landed in Cusco Peru just as they were looking for someone to work at a hostel, I had a great month being on the other side of the bar.

    • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

      Oh that’s great! I bartended only one night (and by bartending I mean opened up beers for people behind a bar) but it was so much fun!