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How to be an expert Maltese traveller on a budget

by Yellow

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They say the world should be your oyster. Exploring foreign places and experiencing life outside of your normality at home is exhilarating. But in reality, satisfying your wanderlust with endless travelling is something few people can do. You need time to plan your trips. You need a flexible job that allows you to be a globetrotter. And above all else, you need money - lots of it. 

Have you ever considered budget travelling? Whether you’re a student, a big spender or someone trying their best to keep up with daily expenses, you still deserve the opportunity to travel. It’s all about being cost-conscious and planning the best trip you possibly can with the limited budget you have. Not to mention the importance of doing your research and being aware of all the travelling options you can explore. 

Rose and Samuel, also known as The Travel 2 on social media, are a young Maltese couple who have been travelling the world together since 2013. As former students who’ve just started to develop their careers, they’ve had no choice but to resort to budget travelling for several years. We thought they would be the perfect twosome to give us some top tips on how to fly out of the Maltese islands on a regular basis without breaking the bank. 

There are 3 golden rules

Many people consider travelling to be one of their hobbies, but a very expensive one at that! As much as we all love catching a plane to somewhere completely new, or to a country we love re-visiting, it is rarely practical or feasible to do so very often. Having to spend substantial sums of money is definitely one of the reasons most of us opt to travel less and restrict ourselves to more affordable destinations.

If you’re bored of going to the same close-by locations, or spending a weekend in Gozo just to feel like you’ve been abroad, there are 3 golden rules you should keep in mind if you want to travel frequently, but on a budget: 

1. Know your financial limitations

2. Save up accordingly

3. Keep an eye out for any bargains

Overall, you need to be willing to cut corners, depending on what you truly want to include in your itinerary from your original wishlist, and what you can afford. But how do you travel on a budget successfully in practice? 

Here’s what you need to do

If you’ve caught the travel bug, you have to address it. Once you straighten out your priorities and recognise your potential to budget travel, there’s no stopping you. Does travelling make you happy? Then it’s worth pursuing as often as you can by making use of these cost-cutting suggestions!  

Organise a bucket list

Listing all the places you want to visit at some point in your life will help you better envision your travelling goals and make them more reachable. When you’re creating your bucket list, don’t judge your own choices. If there’s a country you wholeheartedly want to go to, you will eventually find a way to make it happen.

Once you’re happy with your bucket list, even if it includes every single country on the face of the planet, it’s time to order them. You can push the more affordable destinations to the top of your list, or you might rank countries based on their vicinity. You might want to group neighbouring locations and plan a single trip to visit them in the same period. Or you might decide to start with the countries on your list that are physically closest to you, and gradually expand further. 

Any way you decide to tackle your bucket list, maintain a balance between keeping expenses to a minimum and maximising the quality of each travel experience. After all, you don’t need to be wealthy to gain a wealth of knowledge and inspiration from well-planned travelling. 

Choose your destinations wisely  

It’s always fruitful to go outside of your comfort zone and explore faraway lands for the first time. But when you’re on a budget, you need to be realistic. There are a number of countries that can be quite reasonable to visit, even if they're on the opposite side of the globe. But it’s usually safer to go for destinations which are both affordable and easier to reach. 

Arriving at your final decision on where to travel to will depend on several factors. If it gets confusing, remember to focus on the following aspects: 

  • How long do you want to be away? A shorter trip will probably mean spending less money.
  • Where does it make the most sense to go? To be able to travel on a budget, go for countries with a low cost of living or ones which operate frequent cheap flights. 
  • How can I spend the least amount of money I possibly can on accommodation? Do you really need a 5-star hotel every time you go abroad? Opt for cheaper forms of accommodation through Airbnb or Couch Surfing (we’ll discuss these in more detail later on). It also gets even easier and cheaper if you have family members or friends living outside our shores who you can stay with. 

You can also take volunteering abroad into consideration. It’s completely different from going on a typical holiday, but it’s still an amazing opportunity to grow and develop as a traveller and as a human being. You’ll get to experience a foreign country from a genuinely local perspective and in a truly unforgettable way. It is usually quite inexpensive since most volunteering groups pay for volunteers’ accommodation, medication, food and other amenities. The only things you’d need to pay for yourself would probably be flights and insurance. 

Cut down on the shopping

It’s better to be a shopaholic when it comes to buying flight tickets than the latest brands if your goal in life is to travel the world. Spending money on clothes, partying and other guilty pleasures will break your bank preventing you from being able to save up for travelling purposes. 

Try and leave your clothes shopping for when you’re abroad, especially if you’re heading to a country where clothes are sold at very cheap rates. Talk about cutting down on shopping now being extremely rewarding later! 

Reduce your social spending by organising more affordable activities with friends and family like BBQs, picnics or beach trips. Or you can host everyone at your house for a fun night in, and ask everyone to chip in for food and drinks. Don’t be embarrassed to say ‘NO’ to going out and spending a lot of money if you’re dedicated enough to save up for your next trip. 

Travel low-cost

To be a budget traveller, you’ll need to get used to shorter and cheaper holidays spread throughout the year. Rather than splurging your savings on one big luxury summer holiday in a crowded tourist destination, explore more affordable locations that might off the radar for most people. 

What counts the most is how possible it is to find low-cost flights to your desired destination. To do so, compare what’s available from different low-cost airlines, and check changes in prices regularly to make sure that you get hold of the best possible offer once you finally decide to book your flights. One key drawback of low-cost airlines is having to abide by stricter luggage rules. 

If you’re going to an unfamiliar location or the duration of your trip is quite long, it’s not that easy to travel light. But if you’re not ready to pay more money for extra baggage, take note of all the baggage rules that apply to you and stick to them. All in all, be very careful about how much you pack, also keeping in mind that you might need more space in your suitcase once you’re returning home. 

A good tip would be to keep handheld scales with you, especially if you’re going to be travelling to multiple countries or airports in a single trip. In a matter of seconds, you’ll be able to check whether you’ve overpacked without risking finding out when it’s too late.  

Explore your accommodation options

As already mentioned, Airbnb and Couch Surfing are two very popular and affordable alternatives to booking a hotel room. Both alternatives have become more secure and regulated over the years, offering travellers the chance to immerse themselves in the culture of the country they are visiting without fearing their safety. But they aren’t only great alternatives because they’re cheaper. When you think about it, they also provide you with a wider choice. 

Up until August 2017, there were over 4 million listings on Airbnb in every country you can imagine, making it a catalogue of endless possibilities. Look out for ‘super-hosts’, who have been certified by Airbnb as reliable and make sure that the accommodation you pick satisfies your personal criteria before booking. 

Don’t worry though! It’s very easy to find cheap, clean and safe Airbnb accommodation options in central locations around the world with private bathrooms and other basic amenities that we’d rather not live without. 

Annually, Couch Surfing supports around 400,000 hosts, who in turn serve over 4 million travellers. It’s the perfect way to find accommodation if you’d like to meet new people and fellow travellers, and get the full experience of living in another country for a few days or weeks. It’s extremely simple to sign up, and the system is constantly monitored by the Couch Surfing Trust and Safety team. 

Being on a tight budget shouldn’t stop you from trying your best to save up for globetrotting. No matter how never-ending it will feel, The Travel 2 also recommend starting your own mini-travel fund. Just put aside some change every day, and once a week make sure to put in at least one note. Saving up money bit by bit so regularly makes it much easier to have enough funds to travel when the time is right.  

Sir Richard Burton has been famously quoted saying: “The gladdest moment in human life is a departure into unknown lands”. Anyone can travel far and wide with enough dedication to making it happen at all costs. Go for it, be slightly frugal and learn along the way. The sky is your limit, literally. 

Be sure to visit The Travel 2 website and Facebook page for more interesting and vital information about what it’s like to be Maltese and travel the world.  

Inspired enough to take the leap and catch a plane? Find the right travel bags for your next trip from any of these businesses. 

And in case you’re clueless about where to go and how to get there, you can also get in touch with any of these Travel Agencies. 

Yellow is always here to help you discover local and beyond! Simply visit yellow.com.mt.  

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