Money Talks, So Should You

Balancing Act: Globetrotting on a shoestring budget

Esther Goh
by Esther Goh , Dimespring 30 (@eemusings)

By the time you read this, barring all catastrophe, we’ll be hitched and off on our (extended) honeymoon!

My now-husband and I will be traveling around the world for six months  a trip of a lifetime. In New Zealand, we call it the big OE (overseas experience), while in other countries it's known as a gap year. In our case, it’s also doubling as an extended honeymoon.

READ: 4 financial precautions for new travelers

We're not rich by any means, but you don't need to be wealthy to travel. Our formula comprises three elements: savings, freelancing income and bootstrapping. We're humble backpackers, not luxury tourists, and we're prepared to deal with icky dorms and whatever else comes our way.

To keep food costs down, we'll be sampling a lot of street food and cooking our own at other times. We have simple tastes. I'd wager I'd be just as happy with a pastry from a French bakery as with a three-course meal from a Michelin starred establishment  as long as it's fresh and local!

To save on accommodation, travelers can volunteer or work in exchange for food and shelter, which we'll be doing a bit of. Check out WWOOF, HelpX, Workaway and Staydu. There's hospitality exchange sites like Couchsurfing, Servas and Global Freeloaders. Then of course there are hostels and private rentals (which can be a shared room, a private room, or whole apartment) that can be quite cheap as well  try Airbnb, Roomorama or Housetrip.

READ: How to charm your way into first class on your next flight

Transport is one area where it may be hard to keep costs down. We've got all our flights booked and paid for, taking advantage of youth discounts. But short of hitchhiking, either planning well in advance or having a flexible schedule will enable you to take advantage of the biggest savings.

Assuming we haven’t strangled each other by then, look out for my next post on how we’re managing our finances on the road.


Esther is a 20-something writer and editor from Auckland, New Zealand, trying to balance living for today with saving for tomorrow. Esther is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.