How do I fund my travel overseas?

Francois Rabelais. He was a poet. And his last words were “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”
But the seeking the “Great Perhaps” isn’t always a walk in the park, especially if you aren’t an heiress. Although, with a little bit of common sense, and a tonne of research, you could end up pretty close to finding your Greater Perhaps; maybe even over and over.
The easiest way to make travel cheaper is to use plain old common sense cost cutting and controlled expenses. This could mean using public transport, instead of taxis, buying cheaper flights et cetera. It could help to supplement your travel budget by making money as you go.

The common sense cost cutting route:

  • Buy cheaper flights- You could buy cheaper flights by waiting for the prices to drop(usually happens mid-week, especially Tuesdays and Thursdays) or by choosing flights with multiple/long layovers. In case you choose a flight with really long layovers instead of a quicker direct flight, you could use the layover period to explore a new city. No catch!
    Also, hunt for coupons.
    Also, check for alternate airports. Prices may vary for different airports in the same city.

  • Avoid renting drivers- Whether you rent self-driven vehicles or choose to take public transport around the city, if you avoid personally assigned drivers at all costs, you will end up saving a significant amount of money.        Bonus– you don’t have to worry about the stranger driving you around maybe being a homicidal maniac. Or maybe you’re not that cynical. In that case, I’m totally kidding about that possibility.

  • Carry spreads- Carry jams, and spreads for the entirety of your trip. This way you can make sure your food cost doesn’t shoot up unintentionally unless you actually want to try out the cuisine.
    Bonus– Sandwiches are great for your tummy. Unless you have celiac disease. In that case, it’s going to be counterproductive. Carry fruit then, maybe.

  • Stay in hostels- This slashes your expenditure better than Uma Thurman with a katana. Couch surfing may be free and ergo more appealing to you than hostels, but there’s always the concern of not knowing your host. And in case of hostels, you can count on the safety of a travel-nerd mob. Bonus- Extremely affordable, most hostels come with kitchens and dirt cheap laundry facilities, and sometimes even have certain meals and/or tours included.They’re usually more sensitive to traveler needs, and any special requests you might have- like your pets want to come with, or you need help finding special equipment or services, or you want travel advice et cetera.If you’re looking to book hostels in India, you could check for bookings.

  • Bargain- When you shop locally, it is important to be street smart. While it’s better to have researched or asked around about the prices, don’t fret if you haven’t. Just reject the first three prices quoted. You can always try another store, and they know it.Travel forums are filled with anecdotes of people that ended up saving significant amounts overall, even though the difference per purchase seemed small at the time.Bonus- The process is fun and gets hilarious every time you recount the story. It also gives your souvenirs a story.

  • Get a local SIM card- International roaming puts a Hulk-sized dent in your travel budget unless you’re smart about it. Put your Instagram on hold until you have a local SIM. And if you really can’t wait, get to a free WiFi zone.
    Bonus– You can use your phone as you please. Also, means you can use google maps. Not getting lost in a foreign country is a pretty big plus.

  • Choose the right credit/cash cards- Debit cards generally have a withdrawal fee. You could choose a credit card instead, one with lower or null withdrawal fees.There are travel cash cards also, with attractive offers for overseas travels.
    Bonus– Travel Insurance is usually included in these cards, and you should never ever ignore getting travel insurance.

Making money as you go:

  • Crowdfund your travel- While making people pay for your travel seems like a crazy idea, it’s more common than you’d think. Christopher Columbus, Roald Amundsen, Mungo Park- they all explored the world on someone else’s nickel. While Columbus’ trip was funded by the Queen and a group of rich Italians, Mungo Park explored the Niger river on the funding provided by a private African association. Roald Amundsen, the first to reach the South Pole, received most of his funding from his King and the parliament, with his brother arranging for the remaining funds. Another massive trip that everyone knows of, but doesn’t realize was crowdfunded was the one Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong took to the moon! While websites like Kickstarter, Plumfund, Gofundme, Fundmytravel et cetera, are more than happy to give you a platform to ask for funding, lifestyle projects are discouraged. For example, if you just want to sip wine and eat pie, you may not inspire people to help you make it happen. But say you write a book about every place you go to, document your travels in photographs, learn a new skill everywhere you go or help out the locals create something substantial- that might help your cause and get you the funding.Bonus- Not only will the project give you memories of being part of something wonderful, you’ll have gained a brag-worthy experience and something tangible to commemorate your time there.Tips to get your project funded- Do insane amounts of research to prove why your project deserves to be funded. The research will also help you figure out if it’s an original idea or not, and you can then proceed to tweak it as necessary. Research might also help you see and learn why some other projects failed, and help you dodge those mines. Also, make all your work on the project available for scrutiny and suggestion by the donors, so they feel involved and invested. It also helps if you have helped fund someone else’s project before.
  • Work for favors- While, working in a foreign country on a tourist visa is illegal, volunteering is comfortably nestled in a fine little loophole. Many hostels provide you free stay, and food, and sometimes even free laundry services in exchange for doing them certain favours- manning the reception 5 shifts a week, or designing their website, or clicking photographs for them, or even painting the fence(yes, actually painting it, and not Tom Sawyer-ing your way out of it!)
    A number of websites cater to this- Worldpackers, Workaway,, Volunteer base, WWOOF, et cetera.

  • Freelance- While you couldn’t possibly be working for money there, nothing is stopping you from taking up freelance work online and getting paid electronically to your home account.
  • Work part-time while you travel- This gives you the freedom to pursue jobs available in cities you’re passing through and actually get paid in currency, and not just barter your skills. However, you can’t do this on a regular tourist visa. You’d need a working holiday visa for this.
    A working holiday visa is a residence permit allowing travelers to undertake employment (and sometimes study) in the country issuing the visa to supplement their travel funds.
    Most working holiday visas are offered under reciprocal agreements between certain countries to encourage travel and cultural exchange between their citizens. Check out and for part-time work especially for travelers. A number of websites cater to this- Worldpackers, Workaway,*, Volunteer base, WWOOF, et cetera. You just have to make sure the country you’re visiting offers working holiday visas to be able to take up work that pays.

  • There are often several restrictions on this type of visa:
  • Many are intended for young travelers and, as such, have an age restriction (usually from 18 to 30 or 35.)
  • There are usually limits on the type of employment taken or the length of time the traveler can be employed.
  • The visa holder is expected to have sufficient funds to live on while employment is sought.
  • The visa holder should have some kind of health or travel insurance for the duration of the stay unless the country will cover.

Here is a list of countries and territories you can get a working holiday visa to:

Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa
South Korea
United Kingdom

When your heart is set on traveling and exploring, you’ll find solutions to anything that gets in your way.
Happy traveling!

* provides part-time work, especially for travelers. For foreign nationals, however, this can’t be paid work as per aforementioned visa restrictions. Foreign nationals can still work in exchange for favors and discounted service. Indian travelers are welcome to apply for part-time work against a stipend.

Wherever you go, go with all your heart

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