Peter, thank you again for your valuable information. It is a great topic to start and I hope members will come up with good tips to save money.
This is what I would like to add:1) Bargain
: This is a fun way to save money and it is even expected in some parts of the world (ie. in North Africa, if you don't bargain, you're not a man!).
Here are some tips for efficient bargaining:Know your price
: In order to bargain, you need to know what price a local would pay for whatever you're buying, and this takes time. When you first arrive in a country economically different from your own, you will often pay a higher price than you should. Traveling by bicycle is great in the sense that it allows you to live and shop in between touristic areas where there is no dual pricing (prices for locals and prices for tourists) or at least the difference is reasonable. After some time, you get to know what a fair price is for a room, a meal, groceries, etc. Then you're armed to bargain. When you know what the locals pay for a certain item, you will be confident when you bargain and are more likely to get a fair price with a smile. Your best weapon is to leave
: The last and best weapon you should use when the person refuses to give you a fair price is to leave. This works 90% of the time; if the owner or manager can lower the price, he will run after you and agree to the price you ask for. If he doesn't, it is likely that either you are asking for too low a price or that he has too much pride, in which case you can still shop around to see if you can get the price you want, knowing that you can always come back to the original seller. The "1/4 rule"
: If you don't know the price, like when you buy a souvenir in a touristic market, the rule of thumb is to divide the asked for price by 3, 4, or 5, depending on where you are (in Egypt, Tunisia, and India, for example, you can start by 5!). Watch for the reaction of the salesman and adjust your price accordingly. When you're up to a third of the price, leave and see. If the salesman runs after you and continues to bargain, stay firm on your price; if he ran after you, it means that he will give you your last price. Quantity discount
: If you are planning to buy more than one item, stay more than one night, etc., a good way to get a discount is to first ask the price for 1 item (or 1 night, etc.) and then to ask what discount you would get if you buy more than one item, stay X nights, etc. In other words, if you're planning to buy a larger quantity, always ask first for the price of 1 unit. Then play your “quantity discount" card.Discount for paying in cash
: You can often get a discount if you pay with cash. This is especially true for products that tourists typically pay by credit card. A good example is paying cash for a Turkish carpet in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul (I know it's very cliché).Bargain before consuming
: NEVER bargain after consuming (bar and restaurant). Many countries don't have a menu with a set price. Always agree on a price before consuming. Not only will you not be able to bargain after consuming, but it is much more likely that you will be ripped-off (very important rule for India!).Bargain at home
: Technically, you can bargain almost everywhere. Bargaining is not only for developing countries (don't try at the cash register at Walmart, though!). The two techniques that work in Western countries are the "quantity discount" and the "discount for cash." You would be surprised by who can give you discounts. But if you don't ask, you don't get. Motels are a good place to bargain back home or any business surrounded by a lot of competition.2) Hitch-Hike
: Peter mentioned that some people try to avoid boring parts of their trip by taking buses. I agree with him - it might be boring scenery-wise, but you will most likely encounter some nice surprises. However, sometimes you don't have a choice. Your visa might be running out, you might be sick, your bike might need to be fixed, whatever the reason, you might have to take transportation. Then save money by hitch-hiking. No need to take the bus. Yes, you can hitch-hike with a bicycle. I hitch-hiked with 2 persons, 2 bicycles, 8 panniers, 2 dry bags and 2 handlebar bags and was always picked-up.Basic hitch-hiking rule
: Hitch-hike where cars can pull over without obstructing traffic (large shoulders are ideal). When a driver is already going 30, 40, 50 miles an hour, there is very little chance he will stop. So, hitch-hike where cars are stopped so the driver can see you and think about taking you; the best is right after a stoplight. Don't smoke while you hitch-hike. Try to wear your cleanest clothing so you don't look like a bum.Give the impression that you don't have tons of stuff
. Don't spread out all your panniers, their contents, your lunch, and your clothing all over the shoulder of the road! Pile everything up nicely behind your bike so visually it will look like you don't have too much luggage with you.No Smart Car
: No need to raise your thumb for compact cars. Depending on the country, truckers will take you (very easy in Turkey, not so much in Western countries because of the liability issue). Pick-up trucks are great in the USA for hitch-hiking. In Turkey, an old guy in a brand new Mercedes picked up my wife and myself, 2 bicycles, and all 14 of our bags. We had to tie the bicycles to the top of the car!! The guy didn't even care! I was the one feeling bad for the roof of the brand-new car, so I spread out a blanket to protect the nice ride!3) Get sponsored
: This could be an entirely new article, but if you are planning to do an interesting trip with some kind of novelty and are willing to write about it, offer pictures, and be creative about it, all through a decent website (and, even better, through the media), some companies might be interested in sponsoring you. It is almost impossible to get cash, but you may be able to get gear from some big brands. It is not easy and requires a lot of work (you need to prepare some kind of dossier to present your project), but it might be worth it if you are a little short in your budget to buy your bicycle-touring and camping equipment. It is getting harder and harder to get sponsors because more and more people are doing long bicycle trips, but on the other end, a lot of companies need Internet publicity and links to their products to fight the competition, so you might find some companies that are interested.4) Don't buy water bottles
: You might think water bottles are cheap, but if you travel for a long time, they surely add up. In most Western countries, you can drink water from the sink (supermarket, McDonalds, etc.). In Europe, a good place to get water is in cemeteries. You can even knock on someone’s front door. People will not refuse to refill your water bottle, and often enough, you may get more than water (a cup of tea, perhaps an invitation for dinner, to stay overnight, or even a new friend). In developing countries, where it is not recommended to drink water from the sink, a great way to save money is to use a water filter.5) Buy cheap airline tickets
: Unfortunately, the time when you can hop on a boat and work on a ship in exchange for a ride across the ocean is over. There are still some ways to go by boat, but it is much more complicated and usually more expensive (see this post: Crossing Oceans by Boat
). So the cheapest way to go is by airplane.
Here is my advice on how to buy a cheap airplane ticket. For flights to and from Britain, try www.jetair.com
- they have ridiculously cheap prices. My all-time favorite is www.statravel.com
(students get especially good prices, but regular-fare tickets are still good deals). But you'll need to get a quote using these three ways: Go to the local office if there is one (they have offices all around the world). Then call the 800# and a few local offices in the country where you are. You will most likely get different quotes every time (agents don't have the same techniques or willingness to get discounted pricing). Check online: www.bookingbuddy.com
allows you to try hundreds of airlines and travel agencies at once. Also, try www.opodo.fr
. Lastly, shop around in local travel agencies - try as many as you can, as the price can vary greatly from one to another (these are usually more expensive, but depending where you are you might be able to get a great deal).6) Cook your own (but local) food
: Unless food in a restaurant is very cheap (like in India or Southeast Asia), cooking your own food will save you a lot of money. To really save money, you'll need to buy (and sometimes experience) local food. What locals eat is usually the most affordable. Go to the market and try new things; you will often be nicely surprised. Of course, you will need camping cookware and a stove. Cooking your own meal by your tent under the stars or in front of a sunset is a real treat.7) Buy reliable gear
: This is going to be costly at first, but in the end you will save a lot of money. Reliable and good-quality bicycle components, camping gear, and clothing will stand up to your hardest riding days (Schwalbe, MSR, Brooks, Gore Bike Wear, Primus, Terra Nova, etc.), so you won't have to spend money to fix or replace things over and over again.