Whether by choice or circumstance, most digital nomads live a pretty frugal life. Indeed, it is often the case that freelancers who choose to make their living ’on the road’ tend to stay in hostels instead of hotels, eat at street food stalls more frequently than restaurants, and feel more comfortable travelling by bus or metro than they do by taxi.
If you are an established digital nomad, then you may well be nodding your head as you read this.
However, digital nomads, who limit themselves to strategies like those listed above (ostensibly doing what you can do to save cash on your daily living costs), are only seeing one part of a much bigger picture. This is because there are plenty more savings to be had – some of which can be very significant indeed – within other areas of the digital nomad lifestyle.
The actual travel element for example - getting from one country to another - is chock-full of money saving opportunities. Here is a brief heads-up on some travel-related tips which, when used opportunely, can help thrifty freelancers with persistently itchy feet to stretch their budgets even further.
#1 Get your timing right when booking flights
This is perhaps the most important tip of all as the savings to be made here (most of which apply to flights although it can also apply to some accommodation options too) can be huge. Research has shown that flights booked five or more months ahead are likely to be between 15-20% more expensive than those booked three weeks before take-off. 20%! Imagine how much money that would save if it was applied to a long-haul flight!! The time of the week you book a flight can also be a factor in how much you pay. Apparently, the weekend is the most favourable time to book a flight online as some airlines deliberately up their prices during the working week (when business customers are most likely to be browsing). When it comes to actually catching a flight, the weekend is once again the focal point. Studies have revealed Saturday to be the cheapest day of the week to fly on while Sunday remains the most expensive. So, get yourself into the habit of booking Saturday-only flights within 21 days of their departure, preferably on a weekend, and chances are you’ll ending up saving yourself more than a few quid. Happy days!
#2 Make like a tourist and sign up to money saving websites
You would think that people, who spend much of their working week online, would use the InterWeb to facilitate cheaper travel more than they actually do. Not so. Many digital nomads choose not to sign-up to ’commercial tourist’ money saving websites because they can’t be bothered or feel that to do so would be to ’sell out’ in some way. This really is a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face as sites like Travelzoo.com, TripAlertz.com and Groupon.co.uk deliver some pretty impressive discounts on flights and accommodation. Getting a good deal is not selling out; it is simply a case of using commercial avenues to suit your own ends. However, there is one thing you need to be wary of when going down this route, and that is to...
#3 Be wary of bargains
Although there are some great bargains to be had on money saving websites, it is always worth keeping the old adage ’if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is’ firmly in mind. The simplest way, to filter the good from the bad in this respect, is to refer to the terms & conditions attached to any deal that takes your initial fancy. If you can’t find any Ts & Cs, then do yourself a favour and steer well clear. Avoiding a scam is every bit the same as – and as important as - saving money. Suffice to say, this advice doesn’t just apply to the InterWeb. Some bricks-and-mortar travel agents, tour operators, and booking agents in popular digital nomad/backpacking destinations can be quite unscrupulous when it comes to selling ’bargain’ onward travel tickets. These tickets may not be all they seem (fake, expired, only part paid for, etc), so ask around, check with fellow travellers, and/or listen to your intuition before deciding to part with any cash.
#4 Keep an actual budget
Although digital nomads are known for their commitment to being frugal, it is often the case that very few of them actually keep a record of their financial ins-and-outs. This is a big mistake as tracking your finances doesn’t just enable you to see where your money’s going, it also helps you to identify trends and learn lessons from previous trips, e.g. where unexpected expenses came from. If this sounds a little bit too much like detailed accounting then don’t fret; smartphone apps like Budgt (iPhone) and MoneyWise (Android) can help you to keep tabs on your fiscal affairs without you having to flick through Bookkeeping for Dummies.
#5 Learn from those who know what’s what
The best way to learn about hardcore, nomad-centric money saving is to get the skinny on it from people who have been there, seen it and done it. Fortunately, there are plenty of budget travel blogs and websites online, many of them written by savvy wandering online workers, that can provide you with all manner of fiscally advantageous hints and tips. One of the most inspiring and engaging sites around is that of modern-day digital nomad legend, Nomadic Matt.A smart and articulate guy from Boston who really does know what’s what when it comes to travelling on a budget. Along with top drawer advice about travel in general, Matt tends to include things like coupons and travel deals in his weekly newsletters so it’s well worth signing-up to his site for updates. The Professional Hobo is also a great option as the ’Hobo’ in question – Canadian Nora Dunn – was a qualified financial planner before she jacked-in her practice to pursue a life on the road. Suffice to say, her money saving travel tips really are very insightful indeed.
See also: 5 Reasons to Take a Year Off Work to Travel
So those are my tips – but what about you? Do you have any money saving travel hints and tips you’d like to share with other wandering workers? If so we’d love to hear from you so please feel free to add your comments in the box below.