Tips: Traveling on any budget
Chances are you have probably been reading travel blogs from people who have sold all their belongings and now travel full time, I’m not one of those people.
I have New York city priced rent to pay, bills, and the trappings of a fairly typical young urban professional life but truth is traveling isn't as expensive as most people believe it to be, I strongly believe there is a way to travel on any reasonable budget and as with anything in life you make sacrifices and work with what you have. Here are a couple tips to help you make traveling happen for you!
Budget travel requires dedication and sacrifice and I’d much rather do that than sit at home, day dreaming of traveling the world yet never putting the effort or taking the risks to be able to do so. Saving is the first thing you need to do to be one step closer to traveling wherever you want to go, this was something I had to learn how to do when I first decided I wanted to travel more. Save whatever you can, whenever you can, it all counts.
I downloaded an app called Qapital 2 years ago and I still use it today, it helps me save at any capacity and work towards a goal for each new trip I plan. Best part about the app was that the money wasn’t in my everyday account so I couldn’t spend it whenever I felt like cheating on my goals. I recommend this for anyone who is trying to learn how to save more and manage their finances better.
As I mentioned earlier traveling and saving requires sacrifice, which sounds serious but really just means there are a lot of things you buy and spend money on that you probably really don’t need, so if you hold off or limit your expenditure in some areas you will be able to save money towards other things like traveling. I am an avid online shopper and I live in New York so I love to eat out, I had to realize that I was spending hundreds of dollars a month on these things when I could otherwise save that money and put it towards creating lasting experiences. Think about how much you spend on nights out with friends, or on ordering takeout, it all adds up and at the end of the day you will find that once you start being conscious of these thing you will have a lot more disposable income to put towards meaningful things.
Deciding where to go.
Be Flexible - We all have our list of places we saw on Instagram that we can’t wait to visit, get your inspiration but don’t be married to it! I have had some of the best times in places I never expected would be worth the trip. Be flexible enough to plan your next trip strategically taking into consideration the costs or potential flight deals that might be available. I have picked travel destinations based on the flight and accommodations costs and used the money I saved to make the most of my time there. Don’t be stuck on Bora Bora or the Maldives if you only have a Thailand backpacker budget make the most of the places you go to and be open to new travel opportunities.
Be aware of the seasonality of travel - Do your research and travel during off season while being aware that off-seasons vary depending on the country or region you are traveling to. By traveling during off season you get to skip the crowds and beat the increased peak prices. Most people are apprehensive about traveling to certain countries during off-season due to less than optimal weather conditions, this is definitely something to research beforehand but depending on where you go the bad weather isn’t always so bad.
For example- I travelled to Bali in January which is usually considered monsoon season. Though I was so concerned about the rain before I arrived, it ended up only raining in the early mornings and at night, when it did rain during the day it was often very short lived so we still had an amazing time.
Cost comparison- Consider traveling to places where the flight prices may be somewhat higher but the cost of living is significantly lower than that of your home country. If you opt for Southeast Asia, Africa or Latin America, you can find lower prices on accommodation, food and activities and still end up saving more money on your trip overall. Depending on where you live your currency will probably stretch much further in places like India, Vietnam, Bali, Thailand, Peru etc
Flights & Accommodation.
When searching for flights I always use Kayak.com and Sky scanner, I’m a big fan of Kayaks’ +/- 3 days search option so that I can find the cheapest options around the days I’m looking to fly. They also have an “Explore” feature where you can see which countries you can travel to based on your dates and your price range. This is great for getting ideas of what countries are cheapest to fly to!
I generally find that in most places I travel to, staying in an Airbnb is much cheaper than staying at a hotel. I’ve stayed at so many Airbnb’s around the world and have always had positive experiences. Read the reviews before booking and ask your host for local tips on things to do or where to go in your area.
Keep in mind that while prices of flights might be cheap for some destinations, everything else might not be. I once bought a ticket for $260 to Iceland and booked it without doing my research, only to find that Iceland is one of the most expensive places to live in the world and consequently the prices of Airbnbs, hotels and food were much more than I could afford at the time.
Pack a carry on -This is the only piece of advice I will give that i don’t personally do, I have never been able to travel light but If you are one of those people who don’t need much or you have mastered the art of fitting everything you need in a carryon give me some tips because I need it. I have spent so much money on baggage fees especially on low cost airlines. If you are like me and need multiple options of clothes per day ensure you pay for your baggage online before you check in, you don’t want to be hit with those baggage fees at the airport they are often times 3x as expensive as they usually would be online.
Switch it up and try traveling out of different airports, sure a flight from London to New York might seem expensive, but if the outbound and return flights leave from different airports in the two less popular cities, you could end up saving a bunch.
Another tip is to choose fly into a neighboring country. For example, if you want to visit Singapore the best option is to fly to Kuala Lumpur and then book a flight to your final destination. The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore is usually less than $30.