How can I go travelling as long as possible? That was my question when I started to travel. I soon recognized that I love travelling, but I don’t like sitting in the office nine hours a day to earn the money, looking out of the window wishing I was somewhere outside. So first, I had to find out, how I can save money while travelling to last my exploring a little bit longer. Here, I will share now with you my ideas. Have fun reading.
All these experiences, the struggle with the strong wind and high waves, the anxiety and to exaggerate a little our struggle to survive made me feel more alive than ever before. This is a feeling that seems to get lost when you are stuck in a daily routine, going to work 9 to 5.Loosing yourself in the daily routine was also one reason we decided to leave. It was not about equipping the boat to be as comfortable as our former home. Even though we don’t have a lot of money, we want to live differently, more sustainably, free. After two years of living aboard, I can tell you why: to jump into the unknown like the waters of the ocean, to take some risks personally and to challenge ourselves. Every time it is new and a little bit different. If you want to read more about my life aboard a sailing boat, you can here.
Here are a few tips for all of you who want to see the world, but are not blessed with an endless money flow. I mixed the tips for sailors as well as for backpackers.
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Keep it simple
It makes a lot of sense to get a smaller boat, that you can repair most of it yourself. And don’t be fooled, you will have to repair or fix or improve a boat all the time. Get to know the boat and try to get rid of everything unnecessary (which can be a lot of things). Always remember Murphy’s Law: everything that can break will break. I know this is something you can read everywhere as well as the statement: sailing the world means fixing your boat in the most beautiful places of the world (and to sweat like hell, I might add). So have a look at every item you put on the boat from the coffee can to engine parts and ask yourself if you can live without it. Surprisingly I can live with less and less. So I keep looking around the boat and I am still throwing things away or giving it away to other people who might want it. Honestly, whatever you need is usually not on board anyway. You will have to order it and depending on where you are “fast delivery” is a very flexible term. There is no such a thing like very fast and if there is, it costs a fortune. To get something cheap usually means you have to wait for it. Marina costs are the highest costs on our journey so far, if you have to wait in a marina for the delivery it can add up quite fast.
Get rid of stuff
I learned to be flexible. I had to learn to let go from my perceptions, my own time schedule which was very liberating. Also our needs change. I don’t need as many clothes, shoes or makeup, I really don’t. So I got rid of the clothes that were not my favorites. Now I have a lot more space in the closet and I whatever I wear, is one of my favorites. Often my ‘needs’ are ‘I-want-to-have-it’ in disguise. That is not easy for me and from time to time I just give in and give myself a present of something pretty. If I do, I appreciate it a lot more than I would do if it was an every day thing.
Avoid expensive countries such as the US
Whoever is traveling the world either by boat or in any other way, needs a travel health insurance. Comparing prices here is essential. There are options for less than a Euro a day, depending on the insurance company. It is important to watch for the terms and conditions for the US or Canada. The fee easily doubles or triples in these countries, as their costs for medical treatment are very high. It is a good idea to choose the countries you want to visit wisely. In parts of South America, South-East Asia or Africa living costs are much lower than in Australia, New Zealand, Japan or Canada. Accordingly, the expenses rise or lower for you as a traveler. You can either spend 5 bucks on a bedroom with your own bathroom, in Bolivia for example, or up to 50 in New Zealand.
Use dorms instead of luxury hotels
Hostels are normally cheaper than Hotels anyway. Whoever decides to go for a shared bedroom can save a lot of money. A rule of thumb is: the more people in a room, the cheaper it gets. Also the Catholic Church usually offers very cheap dormatories for people who do not have a lot of money. It’s not the Hilton, but you come into contact with other travelers very easily. You may want to invest a Euro in some ear plugs though, to avoid snorers 😉 Some hostels even offer an included breakfast. The best option is of course, friends or family. If you know people living close to where you want to go to anyway – just give them a call. A great way to see new places and make friends at the same time is couchsurfing. You sign up, look where you wanna go and get a place to sleep. Best of all, you get also a local, who can show you around give you the best tips where to go and what to see. Another opportunity is Air BnB, where you rent other people homes. You can find everything from cheap to expensive.
Sail as much as possible
It seems obvious, but every hour you go under engine fuel is burned and fuel costs money. The highest amount I have paid so far was in Southern Italy at 1,80 € per litre for diesel. If you have to fill up 280 litres that’s 504 Euros. If you have no income and live off your savings that’s a lot of money, especially if you have to refill again after two weeks due to a lot of engine hours. The wind you get is free. That means that you might have to adapt your destination and your time schedule to the wind. If we arrive a day earlier or later doesn’t matter to us anymore. We arrive when we arrive, end of story.
If you are not a sailor but travel by plane to your destinations, buy an Around-the-World-Ticket as early as possible. If you decide today to go to Honduras tomorrow the flight tickets will be much more expensive than one Around-the-World-Ticket where you just have to go in one direction around the World. There are different versions of the ticket that are adapted to world travelers and these make it more affordable. Also Kiwi.com offers now something similar as the ’round the World ticket. For me it also the best tool to compare ticket prices of flights and find the cheapest and best flight. So, just check it out here.
Avoid marinas, anchor as much as possible
Also obvious, but as mentioned before, marinas are our highest costs so far and anchoring is (usually) free. It is much nicer being on anchor in clear water where you can just jump over board, if you feel like it. You can also try to fish. With a good rod and bit of luck you’ll get a lot of tasty fish out of the sea, for free. If you have a dinghy, the costs of fuel for the outboard are a lot lower than a day in the marina. My personal favorite is the inflatable SUP (paddleboard) to get some sport (if the water temperatures are too cold for swimming) and a very cool way to explore the anchorage. I have seen so many people using them instead of a dinghy, I just love it.
We usually try to find the more remote spots to anchor. And when we go ashore, we prefer the local shops, markets and restaurants over the touristy parts. We have found the best and most remote places by asking locals “What do you recommend?” First, they are super happy that you have taken an interest in them and their country and you’ll find the best and cheapest places ever. I personally like fishermen’s bars. Okay, I really had to get used to the look of some of these guys, but they are the most lovely, funny and welcoming people. You might need to learn a bit of the local language to communicate with them, but even if not it might happen that you speak your language and he speaks his and still have a great communication. We found a great fisherman’s bar here in Portimao, where I first wouldn’t dare to step a foot in because of all the weird looking people in there, then I only wanted bottled drinks and nothing to eat but after looking into the kitchen this is now my favorite place to eat the best hamburger in town. Go to local markets where old wrinkled ladies sell what they grow in their gardens. This way you can support local economy, produce less emissions, because it’s not carried through half of Europe and come into contact with the locals. A clear win-win. If you go to a supermarket, try out local stuff, go away from brands that are expensive. And most of all: buy when it is cheap or you find an offer. Then store as much as possible. You can’t be sure you’ll find some products in every country, especially Caribbean or Pacific Islands.
Use the bus not the plane
A rule of thumb here is: the slower you move, the cheaper it gets. If you travel by bus and not by plane you can save a lot of money and see more of the landscape anyway. In South-America you can also find very good bus connections between different countries. It may take up to 28 hours, but you can save a good amount of money.
Less or no alcohol
This one is maybe not obvious at first, but to reduce or give up on alcohol saves a lot of money and additionally is good for your health and the size of your body.
Do as much as possible by yourself
It is so nice to sit in a restaurant and go out for dinner, but it is always more expensive than cooking at home. The more you can do yourself, the better. That starts with bread, collecting herbs, sewing, painting, knitting or playing the guitar. To get to know the countryside go by bus or hitch hiking, walk around and find lonely beaches, waterfalls or whatever surprise may wait for you around the next corner. Get lost – that’s where you’ll find the best things in life, if you ask me.
Sublet your flat or house
What happens with your flat, house or shared flat while you’re away? To terminate your contract or sell the flat or house is one possibility, but if you want to come back to your own home when returning you can sublet your room, flat or house. Depending on the condition of the furniture and the location of your home you might be able to ask for more money than you spend. Like this you can be able to earn a little income while you’re away. If you have a flat, you first have to check if your contract with the landlord allows you to sublet it.
Do you need your fitness-club membership, the pay TV or the streaming subscription while cruising the world? Probably not. All your fixed costs should be reduced as much as possible. Either quit these contracts in advance or try to pause them.
What mobile phone contract to have? I quit my old fixed contract and switched to a prepaid version where I only pay 9 cents for everything. 9 cents a minute to call to Europe or send a text message. If you stay longer in one country, get yourself a card with a local number. That usually reduces your phone costs a lot. Some countries like Portugal also offer good deals for data SIM Cards, where you pay a fixed amount of money to use the internet. Go online and check in advance.
If you are on a tight budget, you will have to do compromises or to make sacrifices. Sometimes it is easy to stay home and not go out for dinner, to not buy the lovely green dress you’ve seen in the store that suits so well, to not get into a marina that is super expensive or to not rent a car to see the countryside what would be more convenient than taking the bus. I was clear about this in the beginning, but still it is not always easy and we’re cheating sometimes when we really like something. We adapt to the lifestyle more and more and we like it. That makes it a lot easier to not buy the dress or the nice shoes, where would I wear them anyway? I would not need it. So no regrets.
To travel in a sailboat is a wonderful way to explore the world. Surely, it is an experience that you’ll never forget in your lifetime and you’ll tell your grandchildren about it. What do they say? In the end, you won’t regret the things you’ve done, but the things you didn’t do. The best experiences are the ones you didn’t plan, the surprises, the situations that evolve. Just go with the flow.
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