After bopping round the globe these past two years I’ve realized something about people’s notions towards traveling. For whatever reason, many people adopted this mentality that in order to travel you must have some obscene amount of money stashed away. There’s my fellow millennials telling me that they’re going to wait until they’re older to travel because they’ll have more cash. Then I have my grandparent’s generation telling me they wish they had traveled when they were younger. I strive to be somewhere in the middle with that, doing it now, with a budget I can afford. If you want to travel, you can do it! It takes a whole lot less money than you’re thinking!
I swear to you, living this kind of lifestyle doesn’t mean having to go looking for a sugar daddy or start betting on the lottery. Cheap travel does exist, it really just comes down to two MASSIVE factors. The first, knowing how to prioritize your money and the second, knowing what kind of traveler you are.
Let me first say, if you came here wanting to learn different ways to save money for travel check out my post over here! We’ll start by assuming that there’s a little cash accumulating. You need to develop blinders. Know exactly what you want to spend your money on. Part of mastering cheap travel is learning to spend your cash on experiences rather than material things. Save your money for the things that really matter. It’s worth it when you wake up in a brand new city with money in your pocket knowing the world is at your fingertips. Prioritizing your money can mean affording to rent that boat in Croatia, the surf lesson in Sydney and even that skydiving excursion in Costa Rica.
Even if you just throw some money here and there into a little “rainy day” fund it’ll add up quicker than you realize. Which is GREAT because there are always cheap flights floating around the interwebs. As long as you’re willing to put in a little research, you can find flights for practically nothing (I took some work away for ya, here’s the best ways to get cheap flights). People are shocked to hear how cheap I get some of my flights, but I don’t have some magic wand (I wish). What it comes down to is rolling up your sleeves and putting in a lil’ work. RT flights from LA-Sydney for $500 do exist, you can get to Europe for the same price too. The other day I even saw a RT flight from Washington DC to Santiago, Chile for LESS THAN $200. If you put $20 aside every week, in just over two months you would have enough to take your pretty self to Chile!! Flight ✅.
Which brings us to the next factor, knowing what kind of traveler you are. If you’re the type that needs to sleep at a 5 star hotel, only rides in taxis, spends way too much on souvenirs and needs to eat at michelin rated restaurants then cheap travel may not be your calling. Your style of traveling is going to be expensive, no way around it boo. Every person has their preference!
HOWEVER, if you’re like me and you’re open to different accommodations, willing to meet new people and dive into the true local culture, I have good news for you. There is a massive community of travelers that exist thanks to our digital age that create spaces to help travelers that are on a budget or even broke see the world. Programs like WWOOF, and Workaway connect people all over the world who are willing to provide food and accommodations in exchange for a couple of hours of work a day. This could mean teaching a salsa class at a hostel, working on an avocado farm, building a yurt or taking care of some kids. The programs are gateways to one of a kind experiences and people that can make a place memorable.
If you’re looking to relax without some heavy lifting, then rest your pretty little head. There are ways for you to get cheap or even free accommodations. One of those ways is Couchsurfing and it is exactly what it sounds like. Different people around the world offer an extra bed or couch that they have and let travelers passing through a place for free. Of course this can sound a little sketchy but the website allows for finding someone who you trust, with the ability to review each host. I have met countless people on the road who have been traveling for months with barely anything in their bank account able to keep going because they spend zero money on accommodations. FREE ACCOMMODATIONS. The best part about couchsurfing is you’re staying at a local’s house. They will always have the best recommendations and even sometimes, great friends that you get to meet.
If you’re still not keen to sleep on a stranger’s couch (reasonable, I get that). There are affordable options for you too. Hostels are one of the best options for cheap travel. You can cut travel expenses in half if you’re staying in hostels. Not to mention, I LOVE hostels because you’ll probably get fantastic advice, meet some characters and be smack dab in the center of town. You can learn how to choose a good hostel here. Still not sold on sleeping in a room with other people? Okay, no worries, I can work with that. Airbnbs are for you. If you explore different locations you’ll begin to realize that certain cities are a steal. You can rent a small apartment in cities for less than $20 a night.
Where you’re willing to travel plays a massive part in keeping travel expenses low. Location is everything when it comes to cheap travel. Traveling to countries like Thailand means staying in treetop bungalows for $8 a night, where as traveling to countries like London or Paris means staying in a bare minimum hostel with 15 other people for $50 a night. A massive endless dinner in Peru may cost you $5 while a small breakfast in Sydney will run you $10. Look for countries where the exchange rate works in your favor and you’ll be able to make your small amount of money stretch even longer. SE Asia and South/Central America are good options to explore if you want to travel cheap. Even countries like Poland, Serbia, Bosnia and Portugal can be significantly cheaper than it’s Euro-neighbors.
You want to be the type of traveler that strives to live like a local. This means exploring the little hole in the wall restaurants for lunch. It means buying groceries at the outdoor markets. It also means learning what you can do for free in each city. Go explore parks, relax in libraries, find out museums that offer free days. Avoiding all of the tourist traps means you’re more likely to get a glimpse of what everyday life really entails in these places. You may be pleasantly surprised with a great view of the city, catch a free movie or even stumble upon a free music festival.
Many people wait to travel thinking that maybe later in life they’ll be able to afford it. The reality of it is that traveling is only going to get more expensive if starting a family is in your future. A simple readjustment of your mindset will have you saving money quicker and it will fund that first step, your plane ticket. Once you have that you can travel for as long as your funds will take you if you’re willing to try a unique accommodations, pick an affordable location and try and live like a local! It really is easy, and so rewarding, having done it now for the last two years, it’s my favorite kind of travel! Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today guys, the world is yours!
Have you been traveling for an extended time? Let me know how in the comments!