Travelling on the Cheap

That means rest, recuperation, and banging mid-winter getaways!

But how can we get traveling on the cheap? Here are some top tips for getting out of town on a budget (whatever it may be).


Going abroad

Let’s assume you’ve got a little bit of cash around. You’ve been working part-time and not spending it all in town, or perhaps you just took out your course-related costs (shh, I won’t tell Jacinda what you’re using them for!). Overseas flights anywhere are expensive from New Zealand, and unless you’ve really planned ahead it’s unlikely that you’ll be getting to Europe during the mid-semester break. But there are holidays to be made in Australia and the Pacific Islands for not too much. There are several web-based services that will help you find the cheapest prices, including Webjet and Skyscanner. You’re also likely to find cheapies on Google’s own flight search service. Another great tip is to use these services to find the best prices, then to book through the specific carrier websites to avoid service charges.

These services will also let you include the all-important travel insurance in your purchase. Booking far in advance and being flexible with your dates will help you get that price down under $500 return, and gives you more to spend on food and drink when you’re there! Unfortunately, Bali and Thailand are always going to set you back a little more, but these websites will also help you find the best fares to these places. It just takes a little more saving.


Traveling cheap

Whether you’re in Australia, the Pacific Islands or staying in New Zealand, the way you travel makes a huge difference to your wallet. Accommodation and food are major culprits here. Staying in dorm rooms in hostels is a good way to go light on your cash. In Fiji, beds in dorms will set you back around $15 FJD a night ($10 NZD), while even the cheapest hotel will be more like $60 FJD ($40 NZD). And a brand name resort? Good luck finding anything for under $250 FJD ($167 NZD).

Hostels are a great way to meet friends. When you meet other travelers, you’ll soon find yourself invited along to any number of planned activities. Mostly, backpackers are all trying to save money, so this is a good opportunity to join in and pitch in together to have cheap fun. In Australia, hostels cost a little more but you may have the opportunity to take a tent and camp for cheap in national parks or paid campgrounds.

Cooking your own meals instead of going out all the time is also a great way to save cash. Most hostels and many commercial campgrounds have kitchen facilities, and tossing the leftovers in a plastic container extends your savings to the next day. Just remember, the important part is being there – there’s plenty of time for fine dining abroad when you’re rich and successful, and when you look back you’ll think fondly of the time when you roughed it as a student.


The Great New Zealand “Staycation”

For those who are a little more cash-strapped, don’t despair. Remember, we are lucky enough to live in a country which is an international tourist hotspot. People pay thousands to come from all over the world and experience a New Zealand holiday, and it could be all yours for less than $100.

Mana Bus offer cheap bus fares wherever you want to go to New Zealand. Another, even cheaper option, is to try hitchhiking. New Zealand is a tremendously easy country to hitchhike on main routes, and you won’t often be waiting more than ten minutes for a ride.

Just pick a safe spot to wait, where you’re clearly visible from the road and there’s enough room for cars to stop. Remember to stay safe, too. If you are getting bad feelings about a ride, you don’t have to take it. If you need an out, you can pretend to get a call from your friend who’s gonna come get you.

Accommodation-wise, some places in New Zealand permit free camping. DoC has the low down on where you can and can't pitch. They also have an incredible range of campsites with differing levels of service that range between $8 and $30 a night.

If you don’t have a tent, try dorm rooms in hostels. The price will be between $20 and $30 a night in most places, and again it’s a great opportunity to meet travelers from abroad while you’re in your own country. Lastly, check out your options for tramping trips if you’re a little more adventurous. Many parks have huts to stay in for only a koha or small fee. These include places like Kahurangi National Park near Nelson and Tararua Forest Park near Wellington.


If you’re willing to swap cocktails and avocado toast for a bunk bed and a homemade curry, you might find that getting out of town doesn’t cost a whole lot more than staying there. Plus, the cheaper you travel, the more likely you are to meet new friends. By hitchhiking and staying in dorms, you can make new friends and contacts. You might even find that you end up with a few free places to stay around the country and the world! Traveling is a cumulative experience that gets easier as you go along, and there’s no time like the present for figuring out your own personal style for traveling on a budget. Get exploring!


- Jack Buckley, Wellington, New Zealand