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One of the coolest parts about having an outdoor hobby is that you can incorporate your activity of choice into your vacation plans. Surfing is no exception, and the age-old concept of a surf trip has evolved into a huge travel industry. There are surf trips for all types of adventurers, from the seasoned pro to the brand new beginner, and from all-inclusive to bare bones. Often times, when I tell people what I’ve been up to (traveling and surfing), they say they could never do that, for a variety of reasons, but I am here to tell you that no matter the roadblock, it is possible! Over the next few weeks, I’ll go over some of the most common excuses people come up with when talking about international surf trips, and I assure you, they are all totally manageable issues. Sorry in advance to all of your bosses, because after reading this mini series, you just may be requesting some time off.
This week, I wanted to cover finance. Cash money dollars. Paper. Green. Moola. Lets have some FUNds!
When discussing travel, cost is the first thing that comes to mind for most people. Unfortunately, money makes the world go round, but there are so many waves to go on a total budget surf trip! People always ask me how I’ve managed to pay for all my travels, and honestly, I get the rather annoying, “so do your parents just fund your life?” question pretty often. The answer to that, is no, of course. In reality, I’ve been working and saving for years and years, but besides that, I just budget very carefully, and for the most part, I choose to travel to places that are extremely affordable.
Often times, your flight will be the most expensive part of your surf trip, especially if you want to go to a country where the cost of living is relatively low, such as Indonesia. If you time things right, and go to the right measures to ensure you get the best price possible, you can get some epic deals on flights. When you go to websites, and see that little pop up warning you that they use “cookies,” they aren’t talking about tasty treats, but rather, tools that ‘remember’ you and your searches, which are saved for data analysis, and well, bamboozlement. If you are searching for flights, websites like Tripadvisor and Skyscanner, and even just plain old Google, will continuously jack up the prices, each time you look for the flight. Therefore, by searching this way, you basically never will see a flight’s price go down over time, but fear not! Most browsers offer the option of opening an “incognito window,” (on a Mac computer, this will be in the upper left corner, under the File tab, when your browser is open). This means that the cookies are off and the website is not tracking your every move, and you can see the actual current price of the flight, ensuring you get the best deal possible!
As far as budgeting goes, obviously, you could go all out and book the fanciest resort in the most expensive country, and have an amazing time! For some of you, that may be an option, and that’s great! But for those who are looking to travel on the cheaper end, there are so many ways to save! For starters, look into going to Central America or Asia, as you can comfortably live off $500USD a week ($200-$300 if you’re feeling extreme), and still have an awesome holiday! If you’re young (or young at heart), one of the cheapest tricks to saving on accommodation is to stay in hostels. Even if sharing a dorm room with five other travelers isn’t your thing, most hostels have private rooms available that are cheaper than a typical hotel or resort. Also, if you’re traveling with a bit of a crew, there are often holiday villas or bungalows in surfy areas, for two to twenty people. Always check out AirBNB and similar sites, because renting a whole place can actually be cheaper than hosteling anyways!
I know that I for one, love to eat when on vacation (and all the time, duh). For many, food experiences are important aspects to their holidays. Fine dining is always nice, but when ballin’ on a budget, you can still get to try some pretty tasty treats! Local cuisine is almost always going to be cheaper than checking out “American” style restaurants, and is super delicious too! You can get your hamburger and fries back home, so you might as well take the opportunity to try new things, you never know, you could discover a new favorite food, while saving your moneys! If you’re after a couple of beverages, drinking will generally be cheaper than in the states, but is definitely an easy way to throw away heaps of cash pretty quickly. I totally understand the desire to ‘crack open a cold one’ after a long day of surfing, and if that’s what you want to do, I recommend buying beer at the liquor store, instead of from a bar or restaurant. You’ll probably get a slightly jacked up gringo or westerner price, but hey, just chalk it up to a tax for surfing the locals’ home breaks.
I can go on and on about other ways to budget, but overall, flights, accommodation, and dining are the basics of any holiday. Transportation can be a wildcard and totally depends on where you go - in Mexico or Central America, I recommend just renting a car. In Asia, getting a personal driver can be ridiculously cheap, or you can go the scooter route if you’re feeling confident. Regardless, if you start employing these money-saving methods during the initial surf trip research stages, you will see how affordable a tropo-vacay (tropical vacation) can be!