So where would you like to go? The Grand Canyon? Thailand? Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef? It’s probably safe to say that unless you’ve been everywhere already, there’s someplace, somewhere, that you’d like to go.
But really, who can afford it? Plane tickets, rental cars, hotel rooms, food; it all adds up pretty quickly. Before you know it, you’ve spent your vacation allowance on lattes, strawberries, and that new tablet you’ve had your eye on.
But never fear! Lucky for you, you can travel with limited funds.
Go to Cheap Places
One of the easiest ways to travel cheaply is to go to cheap places. I mean, you don’t go to Nordstrom with only $20 to spend, so why go to Paris when you won’t be able to afford a hotel room there? Instead, take the time to look into cheaper places to visit, such as Prague or Cambodia. The money you do have will stretch much farther there.
Work as You Go
If you’re going to be traveling for an extended period of time, it never hurts to try and find work while you’re at it. Something as simple as walking dogs or waiting tables can give you the extra spending money you need to reach your next destination. A friend of mine got a job teaching English at a school in Thailand. It pays decently and they set her up with a place to live. Just make sure to check out the country’s working laws before you start.
Find Alternative Travel
If you don’t have to fly, don’t. It’s one of the most expensive ways to travel, and it’s pretty terrible for the environment as well. Although rail travel isn’t a common travel method in the US, many other countries have it as a common travel method, such as Japan and Germany. It’s almost always much cheaper to travel by rail than by plane, but you can also go by bus or even bicycle if you aren’t going far.
Plan Your Flights Carefully
If you have to book a flight, plan it in advance. There’s a window of about 6-8 weeks ahead of time where you’ll find good deals. Additionally, don’t be afraid to take connecting flights. It might mean some layovers, but you’re goal is to travel, right? So take advantage of the layovers to do some extra sightseeing.
Travel Like a Local
The locals in New York City will buy, but don’t really want, the hot dogs from the street vendors. They know enough to want the hot dogs at Coney Island, and a smart tourist will find out about that. Trying to travel like the locals do is cheap and cool. This is where your elite Googling skills will help you out. When you’re visiting a new city, try and stay in an area you’d like to live in. Personally, that means I wouldn’t be staying in the city, I’d be staying in the countryside. Then use your internet skills to find the places to eat, drink and be merry. You can sneak in the tourist attractions too, of course, but don’t spend your whole trip doing the same thing everyone else does – the vendors know to charge you top dollar for those experiences.
There’s a thing called house swapping that’s available now. Basically, you put your home up for someone to come live in for a while, and you go stay at their home. It’s literally a house swap. Of course, make sure you do this through a reputable site, not Craigslist or anything. Good sites will run background checks to make sure everyone is up to snuff, and you’ll be in touch with each other multiple times before anything is agreed upon. However, once you get everything set, you have a place to stay for, well, not free, but no more than you were paying for at home!
Prices get jacked up as soon as the tourists start pouring in. Hotels aren’t booked to the breaking point, cafes aren’t packed, and train cars aren’t bursting at the seams. Instead, the pace is slower, with people enjoying your out-of-town stories, and you’ll get regular prices instead of the in-season ones.
One of the best reasons to travel is to meet people and make friends. Well, we have the internet now, so maybe you can try and make friends before you get where you’re going! There are entire sites dedicated to getting you in touch with other people, and using apps like Meetup gets you into events you never would’ve known existed. Those people and friends you meet can point you to little hole-in-the-wall gems where you can have the freshest pasta ever for less than the lobster mac ‘n cheese being advertised at the strip joint downtown. Free music with your drinks, tango dancing at an underground club, even movies in the catacombs of Rome! Free or cheap entertainment that goes far and above the classic tourist ideas.
Travel in Groups
Traveling in groups is awesome, and not just for the group discounts that many places offer. Of course, there are plenty of those, and you can definitely make a practice of buying in bulk to cut down on expenses for your trip. But the best part is that you make friends for a lifetime. Sure, there might be one or two bad eggs, but those are so few and far between that they should be easily avoided. A simple Google search will show you multiple sites where you can make plans with a group. Go internet!
The more you travel, the better you get at finding the areas that are going to give you the most bang for your buck. After all, a walk along the beach is free, but a horseback ride along the same beach is going to set you back a bit, and possibly give you a sore bum. It seems like it should be common sense, but a lot of people also forget about camping. Clearly, avoid this if you’re going to Russia in the winter, but if the weather is reasonable, camping gives you access to parts of the country you’d miss otherwise. Additionally, temples, museums, and many national monuments are free to visit.
Alright, you’ve got some ideas. If travel is what you want to do, then do it! It only gets harder and more expensive as you get older, so the sooner you get to see some of the world, the more you’ll get from it.