HOW TO: Afford Travel
We are frequently asked about how we are able to afford to travel frequently and to faraway places. Hopefully, this post can provide a guide of answers and helpful tips to get your next trip started!
1. $ave Those $tacks
Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think. Traveling while you’re young is the best for various reasons - it gives you a different perspective on the world around you, opens your eyes to different cultures, ways of life, and landscapes, and best of all - it is the time when being selfish is emphasized as a positive thing. Some of us have stuck out living at home with our parents throughout college in order to save for trips rather than rent, and we’ve all worked our fair share of low-on-the-totem-pole jobs to save every penny we could for our next adventure. On your next birthday, ask for money (or transportation tickets) rather than tangible items. Sell things you don’t use anymore (clothes you haven’t worn in over a year, old electronics, etc). Pass on unnecessary purchases, and spend your hard earned dollars on an experience you’ll hold with you forever - unlike that Forever 21 dress that will wear and rip in six months. Travel is what we are all passionate about, and we each make the conscious decision to prioritize it over other things.
2. Take things one step at a time.
It’s worth it to think ahead when planning a bigger trip. If saving up large amounts of money is difficult, think about each part of your trip in sections. Plane tickets tend to be one of the more expensive parts of adventures, so it may help to save up for the plane ticket, purchase it, and then begin saving for the next chunk of the trip. Some travel tour websites such as EF College Break and Contiki offer various monthly payment plans that will work with your budget.
3. Know your budget.
Doing your research is important when planning in order to be able to predict how much money you’ll be spending in total. Take into account airfare (websites we love: Kayak, STA Travel), lodging (see below), transportation during your stay (car rentals for 19-years-old and up in the USA is FOX Rent-A-Car), spending money for while you are there, and a little wiggle room in case there are any bumps in the road along the way. Expect the unexpected - it helps to bring a little more money than you think you will need, because you never know if you will get a flat tire, miss your train, or watch your shoes fall apart before your eyes (that last one totally happened to me on my first day in Amsterdam). Try to refrain from purchasing expensive souvenirs. We typically stick to collecting postcards, pins, or small inexpensive treasures in each city. Your most valuable souvenirs are your photographs and memories!
4. What we know about: AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
- Typically, we prefer AirBNB when booking accommodations. AirBNB is a safe-to-use website that allows verified users to rent out their apartments, houses, shared rooms, and private rooms. The website is very user friendly, and allows you to enter your budget and what kind of lodging you would prefer. Additionally, AirBNB offers a unique experience by staying somewhere a local would live, rather than in a generic hotel room. Many AirBNB hosts leave guides to their city, tips, or friendly advice. It is worth it to read the full description of all AirBNB listings to make sure you are comfortable with all of the amenities offered.
- In our personal experience, hostels are typically the most inexpensive way to explore Europe, though I am sure this is also the case in various other parts of the world. Websites such as HostelWorld and Hostel International make finding what you’re looking for easy to do. We stayed in many A&O hostels in Europe and all were clean and safe.
- If you’re setting out for a road trip, camping is the cheapest option by far! *check out “Yosemite For Dummies” in Roadie Zine Issue 1, where we talk about our first experience camping in a national park.
- Lastly, the most affordable thing to do is to couch surf. Staying with friends or family whenever you can is an amazing way to save money. However, Couch Surfing is a website similar to AirBNB that helps connect you with verified users who are welcome to people sleeping on their couches for little to no cost.
5. Don’t give up. Do it!
Travel does not need to be luxurious. I almost prefer it not to be! Some of our best memories were spent sleeping in the dirt on a mountain for $5 each, or staying with locals. Being realistic about your budget, doing your research, and knowing what kind of experience you are looking for all go a long way. Now is the time to see the world with fresh young eyes and little responsibilities.
Soon to come for Roadie Zine Issue 2: “Apps to Prepare / Apps While You’re There,” a piece about iPhone apps for all of your adventures. Stay tuned!