Many people dream of traveling, but finances stop them short. What if we told you nearly anyone with a valid passport and a bit of money to spare can travel? A trip to London can be cheaper than you think, and you can have an odyssey across more unorthodox destinations without much money at all. You might want to spend a week in Paris on a shoestring, or maybe you find months across the former Soviet bloc more exciting. Either way, you’ll be surprised just how much you’re capable of.
Flights might be the biggest barrier to travel for those without much money to spend. However, if you can be flexible with your dates, you can find astonishingly affordable intercontinental flights. Norwegian Airlines is an especially good budget provider, and you won’t believe how cheap their flights are in the off-season. When in Europe, budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air can fly you across the continent for pocket change if you’re traveling light. Of course, you can also use Google Flights for cheap travel if you know the tricks.
There are a lot of little holes that your money can sink down. Eating out too much is one, and ATM fees are often harsher than they appear. This is because of the fact ATM withdrawals often charge up-front fees and convert your funds at inferior rates, with the result that you’re effectively being charged twice. The fees may seem like a small cost at first, but they can rapidly add up. It’s best avoided or minimized by bringing cash and relying on your card for any online transactions.
If you try to live more or less as you did in your home country, you’ll likely find yourself spending a lot more money than you need to. For instance, beef is hyper-affordable in some countries and butchers practically give away pork in others. They might be a big producer of something like pineapples, olives, or bell peppers that you could be accustomed to seeing as a luxury. If your destination has an unusual or extreme climate, the locals have doubtlessly devised the perfect outfits for it. Following the examples set by the locals has the twofold benefit of saving you money and giving you a more genuine experience of the country.
People with all sorts of skills will have no trouble finding opportunities to volunteer during the on-season in offbeat travel destinations. Hostels in Eastern Europe, India, and Africa often draw part of their staff from English-speaking travelers who are interested in really exploring the destination. Typically, a small amount of work each week earns you a free bed, potentially accompanied by money for small expenses. Workaway is a great asset to hunt for these sorts of openings, and if you speak English you can get by almost anywhere. Did you ever appreciate just how useful that skill of yours was?
When it comes to volunteering in hospitality and other styles of travel, the whole process is heavily personality-driven. Being friendly is, of course, important, but your ability to sell yourself might be the difference between a good deal and a great one. Can you make cocktails, organize movie nights, or give lessons in playing chess or the harmonica? Virtually anything that makes you a more interesting, vivid person can play to your advantage.
Now that you’re thinking about the skills you have and what makes you a unique, interesting person, you might want to consider couch surfing. If you can sell yourself and be a good guest, couch surfing can be a game-changer for you. Whether you save money through intermittent stays or manage to couch surf for a whole trip, it's a great tool for your budget travel toolkit.
Even experienced travelers often don’t realize you can negotiate on Airbnb. Hosts can make “special offers” to guests if they’re so inclined. If you’re traveling in the off-season or making a multi-month trip, you should be able to get a pretty sizable cut from your prices if you understand the basics of haggling.
However long you travel, you’ll only have to make one round trip. If you’re making a short trip, it’s possible that even a cheap flight will be over half of your costs. An extended trip can let you leverage more of these tips to get an overall cheaper trip and get more for your money. It can be the perfect way for a student to spend part of a gap year.
The 21st century has come with the advent of intercontinental budget flights and a wealth of online work. Data entry, micro-tasks, and writing are booming industries offering countless options for online work. It often pays poorly by the standards of developed nations, but a couple of hours a day or even a few hours a week can quickly add up and give you more financial freedom in countries where a dollar goes far.
Location, location, location. Your destination makes a big difference in what you can leverage for your budget trip. Westerners are generally subject to lax regulation when it comes to tourism; you can visit Berlin or Madrid with ease, and stay up to three months. Some countries take this nonchalance to an extreme, such as Georgia—you could go to Georgia in the spring, spend the summer on the gorgeous beaches of Batumi, and go home in the fall. Not to mention, all that without spending more money than a couple of months' rent in LA!