Travel is a funny thing: many people will say they love to travel, but few will actually do it. Sure, most things in life are easier said than done, but when it comes to recreational travel many seem to view it less like a challenge and more like an utter impossibility. I’ve often encountered reactions from peers such as “I wish I could travel like that!” prompting me to wonder, Well, why can’t you? I do it, and I can’t even gather the financial maturity to own a car. red cloud . Yet my ongoing budget-world-traveling has so far taken me to 30 countries in 4 continents, and through it all I remained (surprisingly) a student, and (far less surprisingly) broke – but hey, not more so than I was before! The reality is that travel is neither as difficult nor as expensive as we think, if one wants it enough to make it a priority and stay flexible. Here are some tips, from a backpacker who has lived to tell the tale:
1. Don’t discriminate
When it comes to destinations! Disney lied: it’s a huge world, and one of the most overwhelming parts of traveling is deciding where to start. There are many tools out there to help you find discounted tickets (SkyScanner has the option to search tickets to Anywhere in the world by price) and with all the special deals going on, oftentimes an open mind can be your best ally. The more traditional destinations tend to be quite expensive, but the good news is the less traditional ones are just as incredible and, dare I say it…? They are often more enjoyable as a cultural experience. Check out prices for various places and factor that into your decision. peta dunia satelit After all, London is not inherently better than Antalya (I swear!)
2. Have an honest conversation with yourself about accommodations
Few things will impact the cost of your trip like this will, because there is room for extreme variation: from free to hundreds of [insert relevant currency here] per night. Sites like the increasingly popular Couchsurfing.org provide the possibility of a free place to sleep for travelers, but they involve a certain level of cultural and personal interaction, not to mention uncertainty, which are not for everyone. The next cheapest options are hostels, easily found online; then followed by AirBnB. For the adventurous and young at heart, I wholeheartedly recommend steering clear of traditional hotels during recreational travel: not only are they expensive, but also a true handicap when it comes to immersing in the local culture.
3. Pack selectively
This might not seem like a money issue, but how you pack will determine how much you spend at every turn. If you pack more than you can carry, you’ll likely be taking taxis every time you move, and it will make any non-hotel accommodation less feasible (E.g.: not all hostels have elevators, and many AirBnBs certainly don’t have the space for three huge bags) Additionally, I can guarantee that if you don’t bring vital items for the activities you wish to partake in (bathing suit, hiking boots, heels for clubbing… web name whatever) you will pay too much for something you probably have at home. It is difficult and ludicrously inconvenient to shop around for a good price in places you don’t know well, so pack smart.
4. Find the locals
Once you have your tickets booked, your bags (or hopefully, bag) packed and a place to stay, start thinking about finding some local friends. It might sound daunting to those who lack the personality traits necessary to approach strangers in bars (and no one lacks them more than I do) but sites such as meetup.com and, again, couchsurfing.org are invaluable tools for finding events and making connections. Believe this: even expert research can not offer you the level of insight a local has into their own city, and their information will not only save you money by removing you from the more touristy parts, where food and drink are priced for the rich and famous; it will also allow you to actually discover the heart and soul of any place. Hint: the soul of New York is nowhere near the Statue of Liberty.
5. Don’t be a tourist
If you insist on staying somewhere with a view of the Colosseum, you’re going to pay the price. No, you don’t *need* to eat at that cafe where Trotsky used to write. Don’t jump on that hop-on-hop-off tour bus if it doesn’t offer anything you could achieve with some minor googling. Embrace public transportation. Avoid souvenir shops like the plague they are. Set your own priorities, don’t let your trip become a to-do list of standard tourist attractions – Paris is just as lovely if you don’t make it to the Louvre.
Above all, embrace travel for the truly unique opportunities each place offers. Don’t let what you can’t afford determine your experience, take it from someone whose Best Day Ever occurred while staying on the floor of a farm in a tiny town in west Ireland. You just never know.
Don’t forget to sign up for MyLifebucket to start adding and completing your bucketlist goals!