We are a Worldschooling family that lives on a small budget. We live on less than $1000(Candian) per month. I’ve gotten to be pretty good at making our meagre budget work for our family and we still enjoy our time in each place that we go. In the past our family has consisted of a single mom and two or three kids. Always one kid in diapers. This is a factor in our budgeting for life on the road.
Accommation: I find affordable accommodation wherever we will be a few ways.
If we will only be in an area for a short while, I try to find workaway options in the area we will be going to. http://Www.workaway.info and http://www.helpx.net are a few that are good for finding places to stay for free in exchange for some work. The work can vary from speaking English to people, to cleaning, to painting fences. You arrange the deal before you get there. Just make sure everything has been hashed out before you leave.
For longer stays we often rent a house or apartment. In poorer countries, I’ve found some really good deals on places to rent in poorer neighbourhoods of the city, living with the locals. I’ve never felt in danger living in these communities with my children. In fact the locals always look out for us and help us learn the language! They treat us so well. My children always have kids to play with and Grandmas and Grandpas to love on them when we live in these little local communities.
For overnight accommodations I either Google cheap hotels in the city we will be in or I look on http://www.hotels.com. Hostels are becoming less and less affordable these days.
Transport: Finding affordable transport both to and from our destination and also around the area once we get there is done a few different ways.
Www.skyscanner.com is a great tool for finding affordable airfares. You can fill in “Everywhere” for your destination and it will search for all locations from your departure airport. You can also make choices like looking for nearby airports and searching a range of dates.
I’m also open to other modes of transportation. In the past we’ve taken the Greyhound bus from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Miami, Florida. A distance of just under 5000 km for $535 Canadian. I got this deal because I went down to the bus station and asked the person at the desk what it would cost to do that trip for myself and three kids. The young man helping me said that if I was brave enough to go that far with three kids he would give me the companion fare and his employee discount! It pays to speak to a person sometimes!
There is also the option of taking a cruise and getting off. Taking an all inclusive and not taking the flight back. Taking the bus or train to your destination. So many options if you are open minded and willing to look around!
Www.cheapcruises.com often has cheap cruises for last minute departures (less than 3 weeks out).
We often use public transit when we are traveling. Most locations will have a weekly pass or even monthly pass which can help to save money. We rarely rent a car.
Food: Eating out can be costly especially when kids are involved or more than one person. Keeping to the budget can be hard but not impossible.
When we are in a place for a while, we find local markets and buy food for a few days and prepare it at home. We will eat out at street vendors once or twice a week as a treat. We find cheaper places to eat. Often times we will order a larger plate and share it amongst all of us.
In larger cities in western countries, buffets are a great deal for eating out. A variety of food for everyone and everyone gets their fill. We like to do these around 3 pm for a late lunch and then just do sandwiches or something light later in the evening for supper.
We have started making lunch our big meal of the day. As North Americans this was hard to get used to at first but it is cheaper when you are traveling. Lunch is almost always cheaper than supper out.
When we are in a place just for a few nights we often get street food that is cheap. If we are in a large western city, we will find a large supermarket or dollar store type shop and buy some things for the next day or so.
Www.mealsharing.com is a great resource for when you are in a new city. You can search for hosts in different cities and then say you’d like join them. There may be a nominal fee to cover the costs of the meal for the hosts but it is a great way to meet locals and share a meal!
Often we look on kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook community groups and other online sources for community events to find free meals around where we will be staying.
Www.foodnotbombs.com is another option for free food. Check the site for a listing of cities with Food Not Bombs groups and their feeding times and locations. Most of the meals are vegetarian but it is fun to get out and meet other locals in the area and share a meal. Sometimes if you go early you can help with the cooking of the meal, which can be fun for older kids.
Activities: We try to find as many free activities anywhere we travel. Places like the beaches, parks, creeks, rivers, and green spaces are excellent sources of free fun!
Most museums and galleries will have a free entry day at least once a month.
Some places will have a pass for multiple activities. Www.citypass.com is one that has these types of passes for a variety of cities. Www.smartdestinations.com is another option.
It’s wise to ask locals for ideas of things to see and do in the area that you will be. Often times there is a cheaper way to access the attractions that locals know about. For instance in Edmonton, the water park at West Edmonton Mall is expensive to get into (about $40 per person) but if you call guest services and ask when the next fund raiser is and for the contact number you can get tickets for under $15 per person! The tickets are usually only from 7-10pm on a certain night (never from June-August) and your purchase supports a local group like a Hockey team or Cheer team. We got some great local insight from a guy we met at a hostel in South Beach, Miami. In the Dominican Republic there is an attraction called the 27 waterfalls. You can book a tour to the falls for about $60-$80 per person. You can also make your way to the gate of the falls by taking public transit (40 pesos) and paying at the gate (500 pesos). For a total of $12 USD per person in comparison to $60 is quite the savings. These are the kinds of things you can learn from locals in the area! Talking to locals can save you a lot of money on attractions in the area. There is always the tourist price and local price at every attraction. I try to make sure we get the local price everywhere we go!
Souvenirs: We don’t really collect souvenirs much when we are traveling because for us this isn’t a vacation this is our lifestyle.
I do like to collect lapel pins when we travel but they are getting harder to find as the years pass. If you have something that you collect go ahead and look for things to add to your collection.
We like to collect free things like ticket stubs, napkins from restaurants, business cards, brochures from attractions we went on, and even pressed pennies if we can find a machine that does them along the way. We then art journal all our goodies, which makes a great keepsake and memory of the trip.
I like to get photo books made online and sent to a location at home. An idea would be to send two to Grandma or some other relative that would love to see your journeys and then you have a copy waiting when you get back! What a great keepsake for your kids long after the trip is over.
We use the Seesaw Class app for keeping track of all the learning that is happening. I have the kids listed in the class. I can add photos, video and voice clips to their portfolios. With the class app I can give others “parents” access to the kids portfolios. I give access to our teacher facilitator that is associated with the school board we are registered with. You could also give Grandma or Dad access if that works for your situation. It’s nice to look back and see the progress the kids have made over the months.