How to follow on from a post about my (very nearly) budget-busting all-inclusive summer holiday in the Maldives? Well, considering we’re nearing the end of the year and holiday allowance/spare pennies are in short demand I thought I’d share my best tips for sticking to a budget and getting the most out of what little travels you can still squeeze out of 2010.

1) Beg, steal and borrow kit! If you’re heading on a long or adventurous trip then be careful about what you buy new, you could find you save quite a bit. There are fantastic second-hand websites and bookshops for guidebooks, and Ebay for specialist clothes and kits you need (or think you need!). My favourite tack, however, is the ol’ “beg and borrow”. Friends who’ve travelled will likely have all the essentials gathering dust in a box under their beds and will be only too happy to send their bits and bobs off on another set of world travels.

2) Travel at night. This saves you the cost of another night’s bed and means you don’t lose valuable ‘exploration’ time on holiday. Just make sure you pack a good travel pillow and pay a little more for comfortable, safe transport!

3) Munch local. Often some of the best local food will be that sold at streetside stalls from local vendors. Obviously you have to be sensible about what you’re choosing to eat but it will be considerably cheaper than eating Western food or even eating in some of the restaurants claiming to be local but very much catering for a tourist market. In these cases they are generally more expensive, and not that authentic. Be warned!

Eat local and you may even make a friend along the way!

Remember that little cut-backs here and there (food, accommodation etc) make a big difference when it comes to the big memorable experiences…like that sky dive/white water rafting trip, etc. That said, sometimes spending a bit more on an good all-inclusive deal can save you tons in the long term…as I discovered in the Maldives! Our projects at The Leap may cost a little more than some other gap year placements, but when you read between the lines and realise that pretty much everything is covered up-front, from transfers and accommodation to food and language lessons, it starts to sound like a much better deal than the so called ‘cheaper options.

But I think the best advice I’ve ever been given is to make sure that your budget is realistic. Don’t make it so small that you can’t do anything and decline every other opportunity/invitation becuase of a prohibitive bank balance.Don’t let a small budget stop you doing things — you’re away for an amazing experience, so enjoy it…and remember that some of the best things in life cost nothing at all!