Travel really is one of the most enriching, invigorating, inspiring things we can do, providing an incredible sensory experience which is extremely uplifting and good for the soul. From the sounds to the sights, the food to the architecture, the people and the history, there is so much to be gained by exploring somewhere abroad, learning about another culture and having a change of scenery from our daily surroundings. People often say that money is the thing that prevents them from travelling, so I wanted to explore some of the ways that you can travel affordably. When I was travelling around South America in 2017, I noticed that there were a lot of tourists from all walks of life- people who were able to travel on a budget by being creative and doing different things. The world is a magnificent place and everyone deserves to see as much of it as possible, so here are some tips for travelling on a budget.
Use your credit card miles
Put every single thing you spend on a credit card with a high rewards program, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve card, as that one offers the most valuable points. It has a high annual fee but the points are so valuable that the fee pays for itself. You can even transfer their points one to one for all airline programs – points you’ve earned from your regular daily purchases! Plus it includes travel insurance, free Global Entry and free TSA pre-check, as well as access to airport lounges for two people. There are other amazing cards too, so do your research and see if there is a card that allows you to get the most out of your money. Obviously, only do this if you are able to keep on top of your monthly payments, but if you are then this is a great way to get rewards for money you’dn already be spending. Check out www.thepointsguy.com for more advice this!
AirBnB your home
AirBnB is a great way to make money if you are going to be traveling, as you can rent out your home for the time you plan to be away and use that money towards your trip. Not to mention that AirBnB has countless affordable places to stay all over the world.
Travel at off-peak times
At certain times of the year (i.e. NOT over summer or during the holidays) flights can be incredibly cheap in comparison to high-peak seasons. You can fly from America to countries in Europe for as little as $350 return if you are selective with your travel dates. I would recommend cross-referencing the prices of flights from various websites such as Skyscanner, Google flights and use the Hopper app, which tracks the prices of flights and notifies you when they drop.
For some reason, Tuesday is almost always the cheapest priced day of the week to travel, so consider this when booking your flights. Another top tip is to book using a private/incognito browsing window, as websites have a sneaky way of tracking your search history and this can often lead to higher quotes on flights. Also, flight prices can vary depending on your location, so using a VPN on your computer can give you the illusion of booking from another place, which can often help you to save anywhere between $50 and $300!
Split the cost of your travel accommodations and/or itinerary with members from the Jetters vacation network, where everyone is vetted, verified, or sourced from a friend of a friend.
Get social media savvy
In the three months I travelled around South America, I only paid for accommodation for 5 nights, which made this wonderful experience extremely affordable. I did this by leveraging my social media following to make content in exchange for room and board, which was a fantastic way to travel on a budget.
Working in hostels
During my South American trip, I met people who were working in hostels in exchange for free board and meals. This enabled them to travel more frequently than their budget would typically allow, as it eliminated accommodation costs. Reach out to hostels in the areas you want to go and offer your help as an exchange.
Work/volunteer abroad programs
There are so many enriching work and volunteer abroad programs available across the globe and they don’t have to be a major time commitment if you don’t necessarily have a year to devote to this. However, this is a great way to experience another country, meet new people and give back in some way. There are many farms which invite people to volunteer in exchange for free food and accommodation, especially those involved with alternative and eco-friendly projects. It is a great opportunity to learn about the land and experience somewhere for cheap! Go to wwoof.net (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) to learn more!
Ask friends and family to contribute
If you have a birthday coming up or are celebrating a special occasion, why not ask your loved ones to donate to your trip? There really is no greater gift than travel and every little helps in making your dream trip possible.
Live like a local
Why not avoid over-priced tourist traps by buying food from local markets, travelling using public transport instead of taxis and staying in neighborhoods that are off-the-beaten-track as opposed to staying in a traveller-friendly hotel in the thick of the action? I guarantee prices will be cheaper and you may just be in for a more authentic experience too. Obviously, safety must always come first, so be sure to research the area beforehand and look at what options are available to you.
During my travles I met a man who was driving from Argentina to Alaska and had converted a bus into a hostel. He estimated that it would take him approximately ten years to do this drive while documenting his trip, so he was picking people up along the way who wanted to stay in his bus hostel, which funded his ten year expedition! When in the Galapogos Islands, I met another creative traveller, Marc from from Spain who found someone who needed help to sail across the Atlantic. He learned the tricks of the trade on this initial trip and then, upon reaching his destination, was offered pay to continue sailing with a couple who wanted to go to Australia. Of course, always be careful and trust your instincts, but connecting with others is a great way to make wonderful things happen. What skills do you have that you could offer?
A friend of mine was able to stay in Cannes for free during the annual film festival after she reached out to a friend who was also attending and had a spare room. The friend she stayed with had found his accommodation by posting on Facebook that he would be in Cannes and asked if anyone had any leads on a place he could stay. A former university friend reached out that her family had a home in the area and offered it to him for free. People often want company when they travel and people usually want to help others, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask! Do you have a family friend who has a home abroad or know a friend of a friend with a spare room? You can usually offer something small in return, such as your help with walking their dog or taking care of their children for a night.
I really hope some of these tips have inspired you to look into your next vacation! In the words of the late Anthony Bourdain, ‘travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.’
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Find a way to travel as far and wide as you can. There are infinite ways to travel affordably. You just need to commit to making it happen, stop putting it off, start getting creative, then plan and make it happen. You certainly won’t regret it.