I just finished writing a story for a print publication on the 20 reasons one should look to travel in their twenties. Of the many points I made–from the friendships you’ll build to the food you will try–it is the fact that travel is affordable that often surprises people the most.
Travel used to be this luxury that was often reserved for our twilight years and retirement age; something we were taught was only experienced on family vacations or after you’ve spent majority of your life toiling away at a desk job. The motto seemed to be “work hard, to play hard,” before people threw their arms in the air, stepped off the corporate treadmill (whether permanently or temporarily) and learned tricks on how to make the so-called “luxury of travel” attainable and affordable. Just like that, we became collectively savvy to airfare saving tricks and ways to both save money and turn wanderlust into an addiction that can be fed.
In the past, I’ve often written about the ways to save on flights since airfare will usually prove the most expensive part of a trip. Travel is as expensive as we make it–from the accommodations we choose to the food we eat–and is customizable to our budgets and tastes. Beyond the flights, here are tricks for saving money on travel and stretching your dollars far so you can stay on the road longer.
Travel to Cheaper Countries
London will burn a hole through your wallet but Vietnam will find you living like a king for a week on what you would spend on London in a day. If keeping a budget is top of mind and traveling longer is the goal, then look to travel to countries like Vietnam or Colombia where you can stretch your dollars.
Choose Affordable Accommodations
Outside of flights, hotels can prove the second biggest expense when heading abroad. Large name, four star hotels, all-inclusive resorts and high end boutiques might be fun for a night splurge if you can swing it, but will likely keep you traveling for one week and suck up your funds in a flash. The options of where to stay don’t necessarily need to be whittled down to comfortable vs. cheap; there are plenty of places to sleep that are both affordable and nice. I like to use airbnb for apartment rentals and hostels (especially when solo traveling hostels are great for making friends on the road). On occasion, I will stay at a hotel (sometimes for free as a travel writer reviewing it!) and will usually opt for boutique hotels as I find them to be more authentic and charming than their brand name counterparts.
Better yet, Stay for FREE
That’s right, you can do more than find affordable accomodations, you can stay for free. Worldpackers allows you to stay anywhere in the world for free in exchange for your skills–so perhaps you’re a social media maven, you can find free accommodations at a hostel in exchange for supporting their staff with social media. Similarly, WWOOF provides travelers with room and board in exchange for their volunteer work on a farm. Another option is to become a travel writer/blogger! Although it takes time to build your following and take your blog to the next level, you can often review hotels or land incredible travel perks to help save money on your adventure.
Look to the Streets for Food
Eat street food–it’s delicious, it’s local, it’s cultural, it’s homemade and will bring you closer to your destination than a tourist-friendly restaurant ever will. Not to mention, street food saves you money with some of the best meals you’ll have being less than $3 dollars.
Choose Affordable Activities
If you’re hoping to do more than wander around aimlessly, consider free walking tours and other cheap activities to enjoy while abroad. Vayable is a cool resource where locals post tours and activities for visitors to their cities to enjoy!
Earn Money while Traveling
This could be a post on its own (and it very well might be soon!) as there are so many ways to make money while on the road. Whether you are teaching English (yes, some organizations like World Teach provide a stipend), working on a cruise ship, picking up odd jobs or freelancing; it takes creativity and determination to make travel work for you if you don’t necessarily have the money to spend. As a freelance writer, I like to pick up travel writing assignments and copy writing gigs to generate money outside of The Pin the Map Project.
Purchase a City Pass or other Tourist Card
I recently was introduced to CityPass and can’t believe that I visited Paris, London and have been living in New York City without this nifty card up my sleeve. Essentially CityPass is a book of tickets that offer extreme discounts on local attractions–be it theater tickets, entry fees or even skippable lines!
When I was in Buenos Aires, it was a small victory when I learned the subway system there and was able to get around town without needing a taxi. Stretch dollars by riding buses and trains, as simple as that!
Make sure to check out my GUIDE TO SAVING ON AIRFARE IN FOUR EASY STEPS for additional tips on affordable flights. Share your tips to saving on travel below!