There’s a common misconception among would-be jetsetters that traveling the world is impossible unless you have a limitless credit card (and someone to pay it off for you!). Fortunately, this just isn’t true. Sure, traveling costs money, but there are ways to make it easier on the wallet. Here are our 7 best tips on how to plan a dream trip on a budget:
1. Choose a more budget-friendly travel style
Forget hotels and tours. Become a backpacker instead! Cost-conscious backpackers travel light (logically enough, carrying their belongings in a backpack) and choose low-cost accommodation while on the road. They also tend to eat local food and often travel for longer, moving fairly quickly through several locations. If you backpack during the off-season, you’ll shave even more dollars off your trip, saving on almost everything from flights to accommodation and attractions.
2. Take advantage of low-cost flights
Don’t simply search for flights on Google: be more proactive with your dollars and focus on budget carriers. In Europe, budget-conscious travelers enjoy a variety of no-frills airlines letting them get from A to B at a very low cost. Imagine, for example, traveling through Malta, before moving on to Rome, Athens, and Istanbul? Or starting out in Berlin, then heading to Prague, Budapest and Riga? Or perhaps backpacking through Paris, Nice, Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon would be more your style? Check WhichBudget.com to see a listing of budget airlines traveling to your destination, or go directly to Euro carriers such as EasyJet, Ryanair, and Vueling. Besides flying, remember that Europe in particular is also great for cheap train travel. For more information, head over to Interrail.
3. Travel to non-expensive destinations
Some places in the world will never be super cheap (hello London, New York, and Paris!), but that doesn’t mean that everywhere is the same. Savvy budget travelers get their passports stamped in countries with a weaker currency than their own. South East Asia (think Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and India) has always been a go-to region for backpackers and budget travelers, and the many lands of Latin America are other great (and cheap!) choices.
4. Plan a longer trip
Though you might not think so, doing a longer trip is much cheaper per day than a quick getaway. Why? By creating a “base” in one location, long term travelers aren’t constantly paying for transport to their next destination, and are able to take advantage of short term rental opportunities rather than hostels’ more costly per-night rates. Also, long term travelers are typically also more interested in getting to know a culture by living in it and “doing what the locals do” (rather than paying for expensive tours and day trips), like to cook for themselves, and might even work while on the road. Which brings us to…
5. Cook your own food
It’s no secret that eating in restaurants every day adds up (not to mention being potentially detrimental to your wastreline!) Budget travelers know that cooking for themselves saves them big bucks: even more if you decide to pool costs by cooking and sharing a meal with fellow travelers at your rental or hostel (visiting foreign food fairs and supermarkets is part of the fun!)
6. Become a digital nomad
Freelancers or people with skills such as teaching, graphic design, computer programing, consulting, translation, or photography have an added bonus, as they may find that with their laptop as their guide, they can continue working while traveling long term. (Travelers who do this are called “digital nomads“.) The benefits of working independently while traveling are obvious: not only do you earn income, but can design your own work schedule!
7. Get a casual job
Not tempted by the digital nomad movement? Maybe you’re a prime candidate for a casual job! Travelers interested in working abroad have dozens of employment options: think pub work, teaching English, scuba instructing, fruit-picking, making coffee, waiting tables, promotional and sales work, and the list goes on. Agencies can help you negotiate visas and land a job (Go Workabout is a good starting point for Australia). Confident travelers can hit the streets with their curriculum once they arrive.