White sand, pristine beaches and panoramic views over the horizon, island hopping must be one of the most sought-after vacations on any travelers’ bucket list. With so many options available, it is difficult to even find a starting point on where to go or what to spend.
Some like to spend big, whereas others prefer to save on one or more aspects of travel, if possible; but nobody seems to think you can island hop for cheap. Well, haters going to hate, but here are 10 ways to island hop on the cheap!
Whether you are traveling Europe, America or through the Pacific Islands, planning is arguably the most essential part of the trip if you want to save some money. Of course, embarking on unplanned adventures is always fun, but have a general budget in mind so you can stick to it, or spend thereabouts. Most of us like hitting the open road, or in this case, jumping on a ferry to the next island (what a hard life), but there must be an element of planning that goes in to your budget of food, accommodation and spending money.
You must work out what your expectations are, and what you want from this trip. If it is a backpacking adventure, then you will want to stick to the cheaper islands, an urban oasis, if you will. Perhaps you could spend a little less on fruit smoothies and Thai massages and instead put it towards a dream island getaway. If you fall in to the backpacking category, then be sure to read on as there are some strange, albeit unique tips to help you island hop for a fraction of the cost it would set you back otherwise.
The time of year plays a vital role in the pricing of flights and accommodation, no matter where you go. As you would imagine, traveling in the winter, or wet season would be cheaper, and is actually worth taking a punt if you’re looking to save a bit of money.
When they say wet season, it rains maybe a few weeks out of 3 or 4 months, so why not take the risk? Island chains typically produce less rain and warmer weather in the winter months than the mainland, so do not let that affect your decision…islands are great all year round!
While Island hopping, you will be faced with many places to choose from so it is important to choose wisely. Again, this comes back to your budget and what luxuries you are willing to sacrifice in order to have a dream island holiday. The most expensive cost people face when island hopping is travel and accommodation so ensure that, if you want to stay on the cheap, pick islands with hostels and campgrounds, as well as islands that have a larger population as to avoid extremely high travel costs.
Hitchhiking on an island tour? If your goal is to spend as little as possible, then this pointer could be for you, and it may seem a little odd but it works! Depending on where you are in the world, it is possible to get a ride to an island on a cargo ship for a slither of the cost it would be to fly, or take a tourist ferry…the normal way! For this to be successful, you must be in the know with the locals and with just an ounce of luck, you’ll be on the unbeknown travelers ‘lounge’ on a cargo ship. What a story that’ll be for the grandkids!
Just like rail passes for a train, air passes can be purchased which will help you save a significant amount of money, as island air travel is by no means cheap.
Your best bet is to organize this with a travel agent as it can get confusing if you try it yourself, and be sure to explore all options before booking as different airlines provide different services and different prices so you’ll need to see what is best suited to your budget and schedule.
If you are traveling on a budget, you are probably going to be taking budget airlines, right? So, in order to avoid the hefty check-in luggage fee, try and pack light. After all, you are island hopping so all you really need is a pair of bathers, t-shirt, shorts, thongs and sunscreen (very important!). Oh, and probably a change of undies too, but that one is up to you. If you aim to keep your bag under 10kg, you will notice a difference in the cost of air travel for sure.
This one goes without saying. Living like a local in any city will mean saving money. Don’t fall in to the tourist traps of expensive restaurants, bars or massage parlours. Being a chain of islands, most things, if not everything, will be imported, making it naturally more expensive.
Living like a local is simpler than you think; eat seasonal produce and at local restaurants on the outer skirts of town. Transport wise, use a bus or a bicycle if you can to get around the island.
Volunteering is an odd one, because who would want to volunteer on holiday? If you do your research, thoroughly, it may be possible to get a free boat ride out to snorkel, or even a free accommodation! Volunteering on the islands is beneficial for both parties; it allows you to travel for free, or a fraction of the cost, and allows you to immerse yourself with the locals and get to know a different culture. It is also a very rewarding experience if you are helping to sustain the environment and wildlife in it.
Costs are cheaper when traveling as a group, and with the introduction of social media and some accommodation sharing websites in to the market, it has never been easier to find a well-priced accommodation or travel mates, if you are alone. If you are a person who enjoys visiting the most remote parts of the world, then this option could be for you as group travel will significantly reduce the costs of any air, car or other transport you need.