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If you are like on a long-term traveling plan where time is not an issue. The next important ingredient that would determine a successful travel is money. The more you save, the more amazing places you can visit. Of course, I am not telling to eat peanut butter and jam all day long (which I would glady do so – it’s delicious). Here are some tips to save those extra bucks and start traveling.

P.S. I have been robbed in La Paz, Bolivia. I will try to update the blog once I get a new computer.

1. Plan a budget
Welcome to business 101. A budget is to predict and plan your spendings within a timeline so that you can scrimp on things accordingly when needed. I divide my budget into 2, daily and monthly budget. Daily budget includes tours, food and accommodation costs. Multiply the amount by 30 days, add in transportation cost and you will get your monthly budget. Depending on the country, my daily budget is about US$20 to US$30 and my monthly budget would be around US$900.

A budget is there not to restrict your spendings but to be use as a guideline. For example, when I pay for a tour, I would try to save on food. If I spend lesser than budgeted, I could afford to treat myself to a big meal. Yay!!

2. Couchsurfing
This is a genius invention and also the reason why I can afford to travel for such a long time. Couchsurfing is a online community for travelers that wants to give back to the traveling community by offereing a couch or floor space for travelers for free. It is also what I love about travel – sharing, learning, and growing, the genuine generosity and warmth of someone willing to let a complete stranger into their homes, and more importantly, into their lives. This allows me to save money on accomodation and having the authentic local experience. The Couchsurfing experience focuses on sharing and giving. I always try to cook something or bring a small gift for my host – make them feel that it was a great decision to host you!


3. Ask the locals

I hate to pay Gringo’s price not because I cannot afford it but I am not Gringo, I’m Asian. haha. A fact to take in is that you will get ripped off sometimes because you don’t look like a local. Therefore, the best things to do is, ask. Talk to the your fellow travelers, they probably have done their reasearch and is able to give you some valuebale information that actually worth money. Nonetheless, the best person to consult on pricing is the locals hence learning the language is definitely something valuable. I remember once, taking the bus from Colombia to Ecaudor, figuring out that I paid 2 times the price for the same ticket, the person sitting beside me paid.

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4. Student ID
Being a student is amazing, I got discounts and free entry from ruins to bus tickets. I highly recommend everyone to be a student while traveling other than people who looks older than 40 years old. haha.

If you are not… I did not mentioned to make a fake student ID ;P


5. Drinking & Shopping

If you did not already realized, alcohol is a killer of your budget. I am not saying not to enjoy your holiday but realized that one night out drinking would be the cost of next tour.

I am lucky that I was never a huge fan of material goods. I remembered for almost 3 consecutive birthdays of asking my mum cash instead of any presents – Yes, I am such a money face. Of course, I have my weakness in objects of age, culture and beauty – Oh! the vintage markets in Mexico City and the thrift stores. Here are veteran experience to share:

– Shop only your last country or stop. That way you could know your budget and not carry a whole of weight on your bag for the next 3 months.

– Shop small. Because small things are usually light and cheaper.

– Get meaning gift. It could a small rock from Machu Picchu (don’t kill me if Machu Picchu got smaller because of me) or sand from the beautiful Caribbean Coast.

– Send a postcard. I has not occurred to me that receiving a postcard is one of the simple joy in life that I can never get enough of. If you can send your own photos as postcards, it would be twice as meaningful.

– Envision your shopping list. It always is great to have a piece of the country to carry back home or as a souvenir but don’t let me end up being just a display item and after a few years end up in the trash because you have too much stuff. When buying a clothing piece, envision yourself wearing it for the next year, something that would fit into your fashion style and all your friend be praising you to have the coolest scarf 😉


6. Dumpster diving

I had the opportunity while living in LA with a bunch of activist to go Dumpster diving. It is one of the most thrilling, liberating and beautiful experience. The whole trip is a like a well planned secret mission. First, we need to choose our target; usually the store who actually throw out good and wholesome food, Wholefood. Second, we need to inspect their dumpster to see if it is possible to secretly hijack and get out safety. Thirdly, we need to plan our team with people who are experienced and quick. Fourth, figure out the timing while they throw their food, usually is right about closing time. Lastly, excute the plan and get home with a whole bunch of good food and live like Kings for FREE.

P.S. I am not sure if you can do this outside US. Let me know if you do, I’ll drop by your cities and do it with you.

7. Skyscanner

I was recently introduced to Skyscanner and I am impressed. The website consolidates  major travel search engines into presents it a very clear manner without trying to open 10 tabs. It also have the option to compare flight prices for the whole month to choose the cheapest flight. This is a keeper.



8. Repair and thrift store

After 7 months of traveling, I am still wearing my favorite leather shoe as before but this time after 4 visits to cobblers into different countries. The same goes with the pair of Uniqlo jeans that I will be hiking Machu Picchu with – I lost count of how many holes there is. There is usually find cheap places to fix your shoes and clothes; my last shoe repair cost $4 in Peru. For places where it is way to expensive to get it fixed, there is thrift store and garage sale! I brought a winter coat for $10 in San Francisco.

See you guys later.. Gonna climb Machu Picchu!


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