There’s no denying, we all love a glamorous vacation every once in a while. At 24 years old, I have been to over 30 countries and 6 continents. Obviously I wasn’t taking myself on all of these trips as I was growing up, but over the last 24 years, I have learned a thing or two about traveling on a budget.
I can’t stand when people say that they just can’t travel because they can’t afford it. Not to say that there aren’t times in your life where you should save instead of dropping a couple grand on a vacation. Just like everything else in life, you have to make this a priority.
Starting out, I like to put a little bit of money away every week. I personally use an app called Stash for this, but there are several alternatives. Stash is a free app that will pull a little bit of money out of your bank account as often as you like, and invest that money in the stock market. This is all customizable, and the app provides a lot of resources to make sure you’re an educated investor. You’re not going to make a TON of money investing little bits here and there, but I love this app because it forces me to save.
I saved $10/ week for two years and made over $300 from investing alone. Now I have a little stash for fun vacations!
Step One- Find a deal on a flight. DO YOUR RESEARCH!! There are many theories about finding the perfect flight; “you must check the 3rd Tuesday 6 months prior” bla bla bla. Just be smart. Find out the average cost of the flight by checking many different websites. For domestic flights, I always check Southwest, and then a website like Expedia, which shows multiple airlines and finds the cheapest flights. For international flights, I have a few preferred airlines that always have good deals. I once found a $250 flight from SFO to Amsterdam on Norwegian Air!
Many have a misconception that international flights will be more expensive than domestic flights. I have rarely found this to be the case. Don’t give up before at least checking: Norwegian, Virgin Atlantic, and Expedia. Or, if you’re a little insane, fly WOW Air (I don’t even think water is free?? What?). Just remember that if you’re going to be in the air for 10+ hours, you’ll want to be comfortable!
Step Two- Save money on accommodation. Sometimes I feel like this is so obvious, but if you’re saving money, you can’t stay in hotels. SORRY someone had to say it. I go back and forth between hostels and airbnbs. You can find some insane deals on there! I will eventually do a blog post outlining which is a better decision in which countries. Airbnb and hostelworld are my saviors every.damn.time. I once stayed in a HOSTEL in Portugal, and for $25/ night, we got a massive apartment with 3 balconies, a kitchen, and a huge bathroom. You can find these gems, just take your time when booking.
And PULEASE read the reviews before booking! There is nothing worse than booking what seems to be a sleepy little hostel, and finding out at 2 am that it’s a party palace.
Step Three- How to eat cheap. You’re in a foreign country. You want to buy nice cocktails, local cuisine, lots of coffee… Here’s a secret- food is wayyyy more expensive in touristy areas. Avoid this by eating outside the main square/ city/ town etc. For example, we once stayed in Rome, which is notorious for marking up their prices closer to the city center. We stayed in the cutest airbnb on the outside of the city, but super close to the metro stop (5 minutes into the city-center). Nobody here spoke english, and what you got for food was authentic, delicious, and CHEAP Italian food. The food in the city-center is made poorly, because it’s for tourists, not locals, and you pay for the area more than the food.
Another option, though maybe less popular, is to cook. This may mean cooking your breakfast and lunch, and going out for dinner. Cooking is a fun way to get to know the local food, and you will love seeing wha different foods they have in their grocery stores! When I backpacked around Europe for 3 months, I loved cooking most of my dinners. I got to know the grocery stores of 12 different countries, and each one had something fascinating to discover. Tip- Italian markets are the best, I am challenging you to cook a meal for yourself in a foreign country!
Step Four- Be smart! Don’t take taxis, get to know the metro in that city! We also will take an Uber from time to time, but this can be more difficult if you don’t have access to wifi. Unpopular opinion: walk! Walking around the city is a great way to see things you otherwise wouldn’t see.
Overall, as long as you make smart choices and do your research, you should be able to travel almost anywhere you like! This guide has aided me in my travel while we were living on one salary (and still went to some awesome places). Be positive, be smart, and if you need help, write me- I gotchu girl!