Summertime beckons the desire to travel: to explore new places, try new things, meet new people. But as your mind wanders, yearning to go forth and gallivant around the globe, you remember–you’re broke. Your funds may be limited, but this does not mean that you can’t find a way to travel this year. You don’t have to take the traditional tourist route, go to all of the tourist traps to buy the most expensive meals, or stay in pricey hotels. With proper planning, you will be joining the ranks of people who may not be monetarily wealthy but are enriched by their travels.
Build your travel stash: Let’s just acknowledge what can be the most frustrating factor when it comes to making travel plans. Money. Financial planning will help you make your plans a reality. Make sacrifices. Instead of buying Starbucks, as a gift to your future self, put that money aside for your coveted trip. A traveler suggests no coffee, lunch or dining out for a few months. It saves a lot [toward your next vacation]! @Chiqee Travel site RTW Guide suggests having a separate savings account for your travels.
Having an accountability partner can help when you struggle with committing to your financial goals. Especially, if you’re travelling with them. They can help serve a healthy dose of tough love and snap you back to reality when you stray from the frugal path towards your trip.
Consider “unhotels”: With sites like Airbnb where people rent out their space in their homes, it’s easier to find alternatives to costly hotels. There are always the common lodgings for travelers in Europe–hostels. Check out websites Hostelbookers.com or Hostelz.com to compare prices and read reviews. If you have a travelling tent, you can camp in someone’s backyard for a low price.
Take the long, tedious flights: For those willing to endure long layovers and circuitous routes to your destination, taking flights with multiple/long layovers can be a money-saving move.
Embrace flexibility: Here, just like you are stretching your dollars, you must do so with your mind. Booking your travels, it’s helpful to be flexible with your dates. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most affordable days to book flights. Early and red-eye are also prime for economic prices. I’m enamored with Google Flights which allows you to easily compare prices and dates.
Go camping! Take a break from the daily routines of life. Enjoy and embrace the wide, open experience of nature. If you’re truly committed, set up automated out-of-office emails, and while you’re at it, turn off your phone for a while. There might be resorts close to where you live, where you can stay for a night or two. Here are some places around the world where you can go camping for free.
Staycation: A stay-at-home vacay is an alternative way to get well-deserved R&R and explore your own town. The idea is that even though you’re staying at home, you have to truly take from your usual day to day. Turn off you work brain and do what can be so hard to do—relax. Instead of fretting over laundry, focus on having a good time. Peruse Groupon and LivingSocial for great deals on fancy restaurants your wallet would otherwise avoid. Visit your local museums or take time to go see a play.
Work vacations: Lessen the worry of money by working while you travel.
Go Woofing: WWOOF ( “Willing Workers on Organic Farms”) Volunteer on farm in exchange for food and a place to stay! There are different locations and different types of farms available. Come back home with stories of how you helped harvest or made wine.
Au Pair (in America/Other Countries): A child whisperer with a desire to travel? Becoming a an au pair abroad is another way to ensure accommodations, income, and a chance to live and explore another country. Make sure you do your research. There are dishonest companies that take advantage of eager travelers. There are programs that help ensure a safe arrangement between families and nannies.
Work at a resort: Another way to have an experience in a new place without traveling abroad is working at a resort or summer camp. Seasonal places like ski resorts, country clubs, and summer camps are looking for employees during the time of year they experience an influx of people. Some positions provide room & board at a low price or free of charge, along with pay. Peruse through Cool Works to check out awesome positions like teaching kids to snowboard in Colorado and guiding tourists through white water rapids, or if you’re not the athletic type (like me), there are many positions like being a camp counselor or a front desk agent a resort.
While you’re traveling:
Cook your own food: I’m a huge foodie, and my favorite part of traveling is trying out new restaurants. Over time, food can end up being the priciest venture on my trip. Cutting down on the costs of food by making your own meals, at least sometimes, can be a huge money saver. Some people rent out an apartment with a kitchen and cook a few meals on their own, which cuts down on the costs of eating.
Use public transit: Getting around a city can eat up your funds when renting a car or taking cabs constantly. The variable expenses of taxis can be an added source of stress because sometimes, you can’t really predict how much it will be. An affordable alternative is getting intimate with humanity in the close spaces of public transportation. Public transportation has a bad rep at times. True, it can take longer and it can get crowded at certain times of the day, but it’s cheaper and a great way to see the city. You might even meet a friendly local who will offer you insight on the best sights that most tourists don’t visit. Researching public transit ahead of time can help you familiarize yourself with the different options and help efficiently plan out your itinerary. Depending on the city, you can use Google Maps to figure out your route.
You’ll discover when you have a limited budget, you have to get creative, crafty and remain open-minded. You may discover or venture into restaurants you’d never normally consider. You may find yourself taking the local public transportation or spending the night in the tent in someone’s backyard. But traveling on a budget is a GREAT way to travel even if you do have the cash. It’s an experience unlike any other, so try it out!