While travel is incredibly enriching, it often seems you have to be rich to travel in the first place. Enriching…rich, get it? Luckily, this isn’t true. It’s actually totally possible to chase your dream of seeing the world without getting yourself stuck in financial trouble – but only if you’re smart about it. With a little pre-planning, a little budgeting and these five travel tips the world is yours.
1. Hunt for cheap flights like it’s your job.
Flights are usually the most expensive part of travel, and it’s easy to get intimidated by big ticket costs from the second you start to plan your trip. Luckily, despite what you might think, it’s quite possible to get cheap international flights – and there are a number of tools to help you do so.
Start out by subscribing to Scott’s Cheap Flights, an email service that will let you know when cheap international flights come online and how long those airfare deals are predicted to last. If you’re casually looking to plan a trip, a free subscription is totally adequate, but if you’re really serious about booking something, you might want to consider paying for a premium subscription. A premium subscription with Scott’s costs $39 a year and gives you access to all of the site’s flight deals, whereas you only get about one-third of the deals with a free subscription. In addition to Scott’s, signup for Airfare Watchdog to get updates on domestic flight bargains.
If you’re looking to scour the internet for flights yourself, Google Flights is obviously a fantastic resource – just make sure you’re browsing in an incognito window, because if not, prices will raise as you search. In addition to Google Flights, make sure to check out Momondo. Momondo is a great website to find cheap fares, and it offers insight tools that tell you when flights will be the cheapest.
2. Embrace PB&J
Although food costs will vary widely depending on your destination, meal prices tend to add up quickly while you’re traveling. It’s true that experiencing the culinary scene of a new place is one of the most exciting parts of traveling, but that doesn’t mean that you have to eat out for every meal.
Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
If you’re particularly budget-conscious, consider limiting yourself to one restaurant meal per day. For breakfasts and lunches, visit a local grocery store and hit the deli and the cereal aisle. If you’re staying in a hostel or an Airbnb, you’ll probably even have access to a kitchen. It may not sound glamorous to trek around the world with a PB&J in hand, but it’s a lot better than sitting at home.
3. Learn to pack light and keep an eye out for hidden fees.
While budget airlines can be a frugal traveler’s best friend, they often try to make up the money they lose on ticket prices with obnoxious hidden fees for checked baggage, large carry-on baggage, seat selection and meals. I recently booked a $300 round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Copenhagen, but the airline’s default booking settings would have charged me $70 for choosing a seat, $70 for in-flight meals and $70 for baggage – quickly turning my $300 flight into a $500 ordeal.
While sacrificing in-flight meals and seat selection isn’t too much to ask (hello protein bars and the middle seat), it can get a little harder when it comes to packing. Learn how to pack efficiently, and choose versatile clothes that can be worn more than once (hello black leggings). Although you may not be able to do full-scale laundry, invest in some travel detergent. Washing your clothes in the sink and drying them in the shower really isn’t that hard, and your wallet will thank you.
4. Ditch Souvenir Shopping
While souvenir shopping is fun, it can get expensive fast. If you want to bring home a piece of your destination for your friends and family, turn to your camera instead of opening your wallet. As you travel, think about the people on your gift list and take pictures of sights that remind you of them or that you think they would like. When you get home, print your pictures and write a note on the back of each photo telling its recipient why you chose that photo for them. Gifting specific photos is a lot more unique than distributing kitschy knick-knacks, and it has the added benefit of saving you a lot of money.
5. Lace up your sneakers
One of the best and most authentic ways to see a new city is by foot. Save yourself transportation costs by opting to walk between sights, or ditch traditional tourist spots all together in favor of simply walking a city’s streets – chances are you’ll get a better idea of what it’s actually like to live in the city you’re visiting. If walking isn’t an option, don’t be afraid to ditch taxi services in favor of local bus or metro systems.
In addition to being more affordable, walking or taking public transportation makes your trip less touristy and more real. After all, travel is most valuable when it serves as a lens into another life rather than just a checklist of “must-sees.” Hopefully you’ll find these travel tips helpful and get adventuring!
Plan wisely and travel widely… the world is waiting.