So you want to do this “TRAVELING THING”… but one look at your bank account… and you think… “HA! That’s not going to happen!”
Yes. Traveling does take a bit of money to get started. It also takes a little bit of money to keep it going. HOWEVER, it may not be as much money as you think.
If you are picturing yourself jetting off to a 5 Star hotel and getting poolside massages while sipping cocktails — my only advice to you is to SAVE a shit ton of money because it will cost ya!
BUT – if you are looking to travel to a foreign land and have an insightful, meaningful, joyful, and adventurous experience… it doesn’t need to cost you as much as you think.
I left the U.S.A. in April and I’ve managed to travel 4.5 months in Europe on less than $3,000. I’ve visited 4 countries so far, ate numerous delicious meals, watched the sunset while above the clouds with views of a volcano on an island, camped in a cave next to the ocean, seen so much awesome live music — and have not paid for ONE NIGHT of my stay.
So how do I manage to live?
Below are 10 Tips for Traveling on a Budget
1. Travel light – Travel with just a carry-on bag or backpack. Not only will it save you money on baggage fees, but will also save you time in the airport. Print your boarding pass at “home” and you can head straight to security!
2. Travel slow – Nothing will blow a budget more than skipping from one place to the next. By taking your time you are likely to find accommodation deals or even a person that can host you while you visit (via Couchsurfing.org or Workaway.info).
3. Brown bag it – Remember when you were younger and would go on field trips at school? You would pack an on-the-go lunch. WELL consider your travels the adult version of a field trip! Shop at the grocery store for snacks and food and keep some handy in your day pack. It will save you LOADS of $$ on food. Don’t forget to tote along your refillable water bottle too!
4. Volunteer – This is how I’ve traveled in Europe for 4.5 months and have not paid for ONE NIGHT of my accommodation. I found placements through workaway.info, two nights in London via couchsurfing.com, and am currently au pairing in Ireland for a family I found on www.aupair-world.co.uk . It may take multiple e-mails to find a placement but it will be well worth it!
5. Make friends with the locals – Who better to point you in the “right direction” than a local? They have great knowledge of awesome (but inexpensive) places to eat, things to do, special events etc…
6. Take advantage of “FREE” days – If you fancy museums then make sure you check the museum’s website to see if they offer a free day. This can also apply to other attractions. I just went to my first castle in Ireland for FREE (saving 6 Euro) because it was heritage week. A quick check in Google will usually supply you with the information you need.
7. Be flexible – This will benefit you MASSIVELY if you can keep a flexible travel “plan”. A difference of a day can often save you $$ when booking flights. Also, you may meet someone along your journey that could guide you to a different place. Plus, you never truly know what a destination has to offer until your own two feet are planted on its soil! You may just find yourself wanting to stay an extra day (or week)!
8. Travel with an open mind – New places bring with it new faces, languages, cuisine, culture, customs etc… As a guest in a foreign destination, it is your responsibility to be a respectful visitor. I’ve met so many awesome people along the way that have offered up their homes, made a meal to share, or took me on a day trip. Keep an open mind to different experiences and an open heart to new friendships.
9. Walk 5 Minutes away from the TOURISTY parts of town – Easy as it sounds. If you are in the touristic area… expect tourist prices. Just a stroll just outside those areas and you can find cheaper food, drink, and other items. It’s quite alright to sometimes splurge on those “MUST EAT AT” places – just not for every meal!
10. Your own two feet – Nothing is cheaper than exploring a city than by walking around on your own two feet. Plus it will help you burn off those extra calories from the delicious chocolate and churros you HAD to try (or any other local delights). If you are going longer distances take public transport. Many cities offer a card or pass that will give you discounted fares when you buy multiple trips.