I think it’s crazy how little emphasis Western culture puts on travel, especially at a young age. We are expected to graduate high school and immediately follow suite by attending college without even taking a look at the world. I wouldn’t be anything like the person I am today if I hadn’t prioritized travel.
That being said, I am not a millionaire. I do not make a six figure salary. I have still managed to travel frequently. So far in 2016, I have been to Chicago, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and New York with a trip in the works this Winter. Today, I’m going to explain how I manage to travel within my means and how you can too!
skip the hotels, Book a hostel!
From what I have learned traveling near and far, hotels are one huge factor that can multiply the cost of your trip. After reading various travel blogs before traveling, I learned about how common the use of hostels are for people my age. Since I had my trip to Asia coming up, I wanted to stay in a hostel at home before I left the country.
My original idea of hostels consisted of jail-cell-like rooms infested with cockroaches and heathens that would result in having to sleep with one eye open. Completely not the case! The first hostel I stayed at was in Chicago, and it still goes down as one of my favorite trips to Chicago. Contrary to my previous bias on hostels, I was welcomed with a warm and friendly environment of people my age who just want to travel! If you’re curious about hostels in your area of interest, I recommend checking out hostelworld.com!
Oh, did I mention the hostel I stayed at in Vietnam was seven bucks a night?! Yeah, check it out.
pack snacks & A Refillable water bottle
When you’re on the go, it becomes increasingly tempting to stop at the nearest convenience store to grab a snack or bottle of water. Depending on where you’re traveling, that price can elevate quickly. You can battle this by packing snacks ahead of time! When I went to New York, I bought a box of Clif bars and kept them in my backpack so I could eat a smaller(cheaper) breakfast and resort to a Clif bar when I got hungry. I also managed to keep a water bottle on hand so I wasn’t throwing my money to fountain pops or tea-lattes in the cafes all over the city.
Keep in mind, not all places will have safe drinking water. i.e. Vietnam.
meet with locals
When traveling, my favorite moments are never the museums I toured, the landmarks I paid to visit and spend hours waiting in line to see. My favorite moments are the experiences I shared with the people I met. Wondering how to meet people when traveling? One, staying in a hostel has that covered. Most hostels have a “common room” where all of the guests and hang out, play games, drink, watch tv and most importantly, socialize! Other ways to meet locals are to use those darned dating apps! I met some rad people through Tinder, and with a little bit of good judgement and caution, you can find your tribe while you’re away from home.
I put an emphasis on good judge of character and caution when meeting locals in unfamiliar areas. If using basic common sense and caution, you will be safe!
look for free things to do where you’re traveling
When traveling, I rarely will spend money on “attractions” in the city. The most expensive attraction I paid for in the last year of travel was riding the rollercoaster on the boardwalk at Coney Island. When traveling, you’d be surprised how many things you can do for free and still have a fulfilling trip. For instance, it costs $18 to take a ferry to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty in New York. You can take a ferry from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island for free which is a half an hour voyage each way and offers incredible views of the city and passes right by the Statue of Liberty!
This is a big one. It’s easy to just book your flights through one of the major airlines like United or Delta. If you’re not constantly looking for deals on flights, you’re going to be throwing a lot more money than expected into your travel cost. Flying affordable, smaller airlines will cut the cost of your flight by a fraction. Also, if you can, fly into larger cities and find other means of transportation back to your hometown. It would’ve cost me $200 if I flew directly from New York to Kalamazoo when I visited NYC this past Summer. Instead, I flew a budget airline from New York to Chicago and then took the Amtrak home which in total the flight and train ticket cost me $95 total! I recommend checking out skyscanner.com to find deals on flights for your next adventure.
Research your destination’s average prices.
You can spend less money on your trips if you have a general idea of how much things will cost before you leave. Some places you travel may be more expensive than others. For example, I could grab a cup of coffee in Vietnam for 25 cents. That same cup of coffee would’ve cost me 5 bucks in New York. This is more important if you are doing multi-destination trips. When I was in Asia, things in Hong Kong were more expensive than things in Vietnam, so it’s best to do your research and plan accordingly.
The biggest piece of advice I can give in budget traveling is just taking the time to research what your trip will cost and start saving. We are conditioned to think that traveling far is something that requires thousands of dollars but depending on what’s important to you, the cutbacks you apply will make your next adventure seem much more attainable. Trust me, when you go abroad for the first time, you’ll get the travel bug and won’t want to stop your voyage. With that, have a good one.
If you have any questions about travel or travel topics you’d like me to cover, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on twitter @claytongerard or Instagram @clayton_gerard