A friend of mine asked me how I can afford to travel almost every month? He knows that I don’t have a 9-5 job and that I’m earning money by doing digital marketing. I told him that you don’t have to be rich to travel. All you gotta change is your “I’m too poor to travel” mindset.
He said, “But I got bills to pay and I have a lot of responsibility at work!” I told him about my trip to Thailand that lasted for a month and how I lived under 25USD budget per day. It is possible because if I can do it, you can do it too. Here are some tips I did to reduce my holiday expenses in Thailand:
Look for Affordable Accommodation
You can get free accommodation in traditional Thai style by going to a local temple and laying your bed there. If you don’t like that idea, you can try Couchsurfing and look for kind people who can share their room and time with you for free. If you want more privacy, rent a room with fan or air-conditioning for a month where you can pay the utility separately. Just use the AC when it gets really hot. For short stays, you can always book with Airbnb (get 20USD discount on that link).
Eat Street Food
Street food in Bangkok is one of the best in the world according to CNN. If you’re open to taste local and unfamiliar dishes like spicy noodles, tender pork legs, and rice porridge, you can have a decent meal for less than 5USD. Eating street food is the most authentic way to experience culinary culture and save money. If you’re not into street food, you can always buy groceries at Tesco hypermarket and cook your own food.
Avoid Tourist Traps
When I was in Phuket, my roommate was complaining how expensive Patong Merlin is. She said she used her credit card and gcharged for transaction fee in US dollars instead of Thai baht. The conversion of currency exchange is also 10% higher than bank’s rate. And on top of that, there’s a 3% service charge that is totally ridiculous. To avoid this, hang out with a local Thai you can trust and bring cash instead of credit card.
I don’t know if any of you drink whiskey or beer before attending a social function. Pre-gaming or drinking at home with your friends before going out is a great way to save money. The people I hang out with in Thailand would drink beer in 7-eleven store before hitting a club. We get to spend quality time while enjoying drinks on the cheap.
Taxi Rip Off
Some taxi drivers in Thailand will double charge you if you don’t speak their language. Always look for a taxi with a built in meter and make sure that they press the start button once they start driving. Negotiate the price BEFORE getting into the taxi to avoid arguments when you arrive at your destination. Tuktuk is also a great option when getting around Bangkok, and it’s only 30 baht for a short trip.
Haggle in good spirit
If you want to buy something in the market, always shop around first to find out what locals pay. Once you find out the retail price, find out the lowest price the seller can give you. If you think you can get it cheaper somewhere else, be polite, smile and walk away.
Leave small tips
Tipping in Thailand is good but not customary to leave your small change behind. If you don’t leave any tip, it is totally fine, but again is always appreciated. In other countries like the US, my dad said 10-15% tip is required. In London, it is not required. Well, as for me, my mom would always leave tip when we go out so I copied her. I would leave tip if I find the service exceptional and if I’m aware that the restaurant staff earns a minimum wage.
My friend from Muay Thai gym told me that it’s better to withdraw money from the ATM rather than exchanging your US dollars to Thai Baht. Some currency changer businesses in Thailand is not up-to-date with the Forex market. When taking money from the ATM, always withdraw the maximum amount that you can get so you won’t be charge 350 baht for every transaction you make.
Take free fitness classes
When I was in Thailand I was able to attend a free acro yoga session by the beach in Koh Tao. The yoga teacher was traveling around the world teaching yoga and he encourages people to join his class. There’s also fitness classes you could join in some Tesco shopping center in Phuket. You know what they say, “Cheap is Good but Free is Better!”
Make a personal budget and keep track of your spending. I know it is tedious but it’s the best way to find out exactly where your money is going. There’s a lot of Apps you can download for FREE like Dollarbird, BillGuard, Goodbudget, etc. Creating a travel budget is good, but the most important thing is to follow that budget.
KT is a digital nomad who quit her job, bought a ticket somewhere, got a tan, fell in love with mother nature and she would never return to the normal life that society dictates. You can also connect with her on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @pinaynomad