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Family Trips on a Budget with the Opietribe Trekkers

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Last Updated on June 2, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

G’day we are an Aussie family of 4 currently backpacking around the world for 2 years.  We have Mum, Amy and Dad is Jono.  Then we have our 2 boys with Autism Elijah (15) and Landon (13).  Travelling for us has always been a lifelong or should I say marriage long dream, a dream that really felt so out of reach for us.  I saw so many families travelling long term and always thought that they were so rich and had so much money.  Until I really started to look into how we could do this thing full time and long term and realized it was doable on a budget.

First of all we needed to set some kind of budget and figure out how much this was going to cost us.  After months of research we came up with a budget that we felt we could comfortably live with.  We have 3 separate budgets. Our first budget is for travel expenses, this includes all flights, visas and in country traveling. Our second budget is for activities and our third budget is for daily living (ie food, accommodation).  Our daily budget for South East Asia is $80 Australian per day for accommodation, food and any other little extras that pop up.  We have been here in South East Asia for 4 months and I can proudly say that we have been under budget for most of these countries.  We had our 17 year old son with us for 6 weeks so our budget did increase a little with him. (see our blog for more detailed budget description)

Here are our top 5 tips on how to travel on a budget.

1.     Make a budget.

This tip is by far the most important.  If you want to stick to your budget you have to know how much you can spend, be strict with it and follow it as closely as you can. Otherwise you will run out of money before you know it.  I use the app trail wallet and this really helps me keep me to budget, hahaha!!!!  No, I didn’t get paid to plug that App, I just love it that much.

2.     Sacrifices.

There is no way to sugar coat this but if you want to travel budget style than sacrifice it is.  As a family you need to choose whether you would be comfortable in being budget with one, two or all of the following: accommodation, food, activities or transport. Although we have made sacrifices in most of these areas we chose to really skimp on accommodation.  We look for the cheapest accommodation that will suit our needs, sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s a dive.  For us accommodation is only there for somewhere for us to sleep.  Sometimes we get lucky and get something amazing in our price range.

 3.     Activities

 Once again sacrifice comes to play with activities.  We have a rule that we have 1 paid activity per area that we are in.  Depending on the prices it could be 2 if they are on the cheaper side.  We also have bucket list items that are a must.  Overall, we mainly look for free or discounted activities. We usually find these activities by researching other blogs, googling activities, asking locals and looking at discount sites or apps like Klook.  To be honest some of the activities that we have paid for I really wished we had forgone them, the crowds were horrendous and it spoilt the whole experience. 

 We would love to do EVERYTHING in every place we go to, but we need to be realistic and pick activities we would really love to do.  Activities is a big expense and had we done everything we would be back home right now.

Being Aussie, our kids have never experienced Disney World and we will be spending 1 week there later this year.  This is going to be a huge expense for us and our Aussie $ is performing pretty pathetically so when we hit the USA, we will already be behind the 8 ball.   We really need to save our dollars to be able to afford to do this.

4.     Food.

 I have honestly only cooked 2 meals in the last four months and that was in Thailand.  It cost me $170 to buy all the ingredients, it is certainly cheaper and easier to eat out.  We have found this to be the case in every Asian country so far. Also, because we skimp on accommodation, we never have cooking facilities to cook.  We tend to look for food markets, hawker centres and restaurants where the locals eat. When you’re only paying $2-4 each per meal why not eat out and experience all that new cultures have to offer.  With up-coming countries like America and Europe, we will be doing a lot more self-catering.

5.     Travel expenses 

This is a biggie.  We only travel with 7kg backpacks each, well they are a little over right now, but essentially, it’s very basic.  By not having to pay for luggage we are saving money. We also don’t pay for pre-selected seats and take the luck of the draw.  A little tip, if you check in on line early enough you usually all sit together.  We have only had 1 time where they split us up, so hubby sat by himself and I sat with the kids.  

When arriving in a new country we very quickly find the cheapest way possible to transport us around.  If it’s under 5kms we usually walk, on the bright side we have both lost weight ha-ha!!! If we can’t find or figure out the public transport system, then we use Grab.  This can sometimes be half the price of a taxi, thank you 7 wayfinders for getting us into Grab.  We also ask the locals all things local, best mode of transport, best food places, must see things and even what we should be paying for it.

We may not stay in the flashiest of places and go to all the major tourist destinations, but we are doing things our way and we are having the time of our lives.  We don’t feel like we have missed too much with our budget constraints and if we really, really want to do something, we move things around so we can.  

 I hope we can inspire other families that traveling on a tight budget is very doable and doesn’t take away the fun of trying and experiencing new places and cultures.

 Happy budget traveling.

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Blog: www.opietribetrekkers.com

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  1. Pingback: How to Afford Full-Time Travel: 2 Moms and a Trailer - 7 Wayfinders

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