You don’t have to let your income, or lack thereof, keep you from seeing the world. Here are ten tips for traveling when you’re broke.
10. Go on a Staycation
A staycation is a vacation spent at home or some nearby place. They first became popular during the Great Recession of 2008, when jobs and money were both scarce.
We always think we have to go far away to enjoy ourselves, but if you look around, you’ll see that there’s plenty to do in your hometown. You can visit your local beaches, museums, zoos, and botanical gardens. You can also go hiking or go on a sightseeing cruise. Depending on where you live, you might be able to snag discounts on some activities. Las Vegas, for example, offers locals deep discounts, and sometimes freebies, on certain activities.
TIP: Check the community calendar for free events and discounts to local attractions.
9. Try Voluntourism
With voluntourism you can travel and change the world at the same time! Here’s how it works: You sign up to be a voluntourist (volunteer tourist) and help locals in remote areas of the world in a number of ways, such as volunteering at hospitals and orphanages or teaching English as a second language. Plus, you get to see the world at the same time. For example, organizations that coordinate voluntourism opportunities will offer short-term humanitarian trips with tourism activities included.
A related option is to trade work for room and board. There are locals around the world who offer free room and board in exchange for your skills, like say helping out on a farm or giving guitar lessons for 1-2 hours a day. You can find opportunities on websites like StayOnSkill.com.
8. Stay at a Hostel
A hostel is something like a hotel, but with less privacy. Hotels, for example, offer individual rooms whereas hostel rooms have more of a dormitory-like setting. Yes, that means you’ll have to share a room with strangers, but most come equipped with lockers in which you can store your belongings. Most hostels also have laundry rooms, internet access, and breakfast service. Some serve alcohol as well. Starting at $59.99 a night, you can get all that plus an outdoor hot tub, outdoor fire pit, ski and snowboard storage, baggage storage, and free onsite parking at The Bivvi Hostel in Colorado.
7. Rent a Bike
If your travel plans involve getting on an airplane, you’re going to need a way to get around when you get to your destination. According to Skyscanner, cycling around town is cheaper than taking a taxi. And, speaking of bikes, after you rent yours, you can use it to join a bike tour. Thomson Bike Tours has a gravel cycling trip that goes from Barcelona to Girona. You’ll ride along mountains, over dirt roads and through forests and national parks, all while taking in some awesome scenery. The entire trip is 393 km.
6. Take Advantage of Freebies
There are lots of free things you can do when traveling to a different city. For example, some museums offer free admission. But, did you know that some vacation destinations offer free walking tours in exchange for a tip? And, while there’s no obligation to tip, keep in mind that a generous tip is expected, so make sure you include that in your travel budget. To find free walking tours, check out Freetour.com’s directory. The website lets you book budget and free tours with local guides in over 120 countries, including Spain, Ireland, Germany, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Romania, and the United States.
5. Eat, Drink and Live Like a Local
As the saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” With that said, here are some tips to help you save on your next trip:
–Dine at bars and taverns or street food carts instead of upscale restaurants. TIP: If you have a smartphone, download a food app that lets you search for nearby street food vendors and read reviews from others before you head out.
-Hit the grocery stores for meal options that don’t require cooking.
–Travel via mass transit instead of taxi.
-Take advantage of short-term rental services like Airbnb that allow you to stay in homes and apartments instead of expensive hotels.
-Purchase bottles of wine from the store instead of drinking at a bar.
4. Consider Other Options
We know you had your heart set on that European vacation you’ve been talking about for the last two years. But, if it’s not in your budget, you can always choose a different destination and have just as much fun and not have to spend an arm and a leg. Wherever you decide to go, make sure you talk to the locals to learn about amazing places to check out, fun activities to participate in, and good places to eat.
3. Look for Cheap Flights and Destinations
There are lots of resources out there to help you find cheap flights and destinations. Take advantage of apps like Skyscanner that let you sign up for airfare alerts so you’ll be notified as soon as there’s a price change. Also, consider following travel companies on Twitter. Businesses will sometimes offer exclusive deals for the people who follow them on social media. Here are some additional tips:
-Take a chartered flight. They often have empty seats that need to be filled, and tour operators will sometimes offer them at a steal.
-Fly really early or really late. Most of the time it’s cheaper to take a red-eye flight―a flight that departs late at night and arrives early in the morning―than it is to fly during the day.
-Fly midweek or off-season. Traveling during the middle of the week (e.g. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays) can help you save hundreds of dollars per ticket, even if you book in advance. Traveling to low- or off-season destinations can save you money as well. For example, winter is the off season in Europe. May through October is the low season for visiting the Caribbean.
-Try flash sales to snag a good holiday deal.
-Use your frequent flier miles.
-Take indirect flights with more stop overs. It’s cheaper than non-stop flights.
-Bigger airports usually offer cheaper tickets.
2. Avoid Baggage Fees
Take as little with you on your trip as possible. This will save you a ton in baggage fees. Skyscanner recommends checking your airline’s rules for carry-on bags and taking as much as onto the flight as they allow. Something else they recommend is wearable luggage. Weird, yes, but it actually exists. For example, the BauBax jacket, made by San Francisco-based husband and wife team Hiral and Yoganshi Shah, has 15 built-in pockets for holding earphones, sunglasses, pens, gloves, tablets (10-inch only), smartphones, passports, a drink, and an inflatable pillow. The jacket comes in four styles: blazer, bomber, windbreaker, and sweatshirt.
1. Talk to a Travel Agent
A travel agent can be a valuable resource when it comes to planning a trip on a budget. According to Mychal Eagleson, CFP and president of An Exceptional Life Financial, travel agents have connections with travel companies. These connections allow them to offer rates and deals–free hotel upgrades, free entrances, deep discounts, the best tables in a restaurant, etc.–you wouldn’t be able to get on your own. They also have insider knowledge when it comes to cheap destinations and the best times to visit.
Now that you know you don’t have to be rich to travel the world, get out there and enjoy yourself. Thanks for reading, and happy travels!