Everyone wants to travel and when people ask me the secret to traveling often, I always say: “Make it a priority.” It’s really that simple. For me, travel is one of my top priorities and it’s something I look forward to experiencing so much so that I’ve made it my job. The culture, the food, the views…they’re all very important to my happiness. That’s why I try to make sure I travel as often as I possible. People have these crazy notions about travel thinking it needs to cost a fortune. In some ways, I can understand why people think this. Afterall, the expenses do add up with hotel rooms, restaurants, tourist attractions, and all the small costs no one thinks about too much. I receive messages all the time from people asking me how I do it or expressing how they wish they could travel. I even had one person ask me if I was a “jet-setting millionaire.” Unfortunately, I am definitely not a millionaire yet. But despite that, I still manage to travel on the cheap and so can you!
There are so many different types of travel. Some people prefer to go for luxury even to the point of never leaving a resort where everything is included. I know people who want everything planned out for them so they don’t have to worry about anything. Then you have the alternate types of tourism such as home stays, eco-tourism, and even agrotourism which gives you the ability to experience life like a local, explore the natural environment, and understand the regional agricultural scene (respectively). You can participate in a cruise ship vacation or even tour a country via train like I did in the Ecuador with Tren Crucero. You can volunteer while you travel, for instance, WWOOF, or work your normal job with co-working spaces. The possibilities are endless and there is bound to be something that peaks your interests.
As for me, I like a nice mix of it all. I absolutely love luxury properties because it’s nice to live like that temporarily. But I find it really difficult to meet local people or explore the region if I’m stuck in a luxury property. I usually go for decent hotels or Airbnbs because they are affordable and allow me to be in the middle of everything that’s happening. I also try to include a good mix of primary tourist attractions as well as some more off the beaten path stuff. Not only that, I love to be outdoors so beaches, hiking, bike rides…those things all make a trip even more exciting for me. The most important factor for me is having experiences. I want to have genuine experiences I can talk about later and enjoy. Experiences make traveling worth it so mixing things up offers me the best experience of all.
During the 2017 Euro Tour, it was the first time I traveled for longer than 2 weeks. In fact, I traveled around Europe (and Israel) for 3 months. It was a really scary situation for me since I never did this before and one of my biggest concerns was money. You spend a lot of money during a 3-month trip and, as a result, I was determined to decrease the amount I spent. Now you can benefit from my trial and error attempts at saving money. If you are traveling and you implement these tips, you can save A LOT of dough. But be aware that traveling for any period of time will require some exchanging of funds. There’s no reason to spend a fortune though.
Traveling on the Cheap: Research and Overestimate
Before you pack that bag, before you make your final decisions about lodging…the first thing you should do is research your destination. If you plan ahead of time you could potentially save quite a lot of money. Look into hotels and compare them to other options such Airbnb or MisterBNB. Figure out what are your must-dos and their costs, as well as the average price of meals in your destination. Come up with a budget then add enough cushion to cover incidentals like that one night you probably will go out and spend a fortune. It’s really helpful and better to overestimate on your budget than it is to underestimate and have to deal with it later.
Another good reason to research your destination is to learn what the gay scene is like before you arrive. Some places have no gay scene so don’t be surprised. Other’s have a great LGBT community but you might need to be careful when you leave the gayborhood. It’s defnitely a good idea, for safety’s sake, to understand what your going into.
Traveling on the Cheap: Use Alternate Lodging
As I said above, compare the prices of lodging. That hotel in the gayborhood of Barcelona might cost you two times the amount you’d spend for an entire flat in the same area. Sure, there are perks to a hotel. But if your goal is to have great experiences while not spending an arm and a leg, then you should consider alternate housing options. I’ve stayed in some pretty nice hostels in the past as well. It’s not my first option but when everything is pricey, it could be the best option. You’ll need to prioritize what matters most to you. For me, I don’t care if I’m staying in a hotel or a flat as long as I still have easy access to the city, public transportation, and am usually near the gayborhood and bars. I’m willing to step outside the luxury of a hotel in order to save a bit (and often a lot) of money that can be put towards other costs like dinner at a fancy restaurant or drinks while I’m out. You can also rent a room in someone’s home to save even more money!
Traveling on the Cheap: Go to Grocery Stores
One of the best parts of traveling is eating new foods and there is no where better than local restaurants. But eating out for every meal can get pretty expensive fast. When I travel long-term, I try to limit the number of times I eat at restaurants each day. My go-to solution is finding a local grocery shop where I buy I few things that will work as breakfast and maybe even a quick lunch. Going to the grocery store is also a neat way to see and try a plethora of new foods and beverages that you haven’t seen before. In a manner, it’s a great method to have a different type of food experience. Doing this will absolutely save you some money.
You can also try hitting up some street food vendors or that hole in the wall you more than likely walked past. These types of places are usually pretty inexpensive and tend be the places where locals like to eat anyway. My rule is if you see a street food vendor with a line of locals, you should definitely give it a try. It’ll save you some money and it’ll be a true local experience.
Traveling on the Cheap: Off Peak Adventures
In general, people tend to travel during the best time of the year. We want to be in Europe when the weather is perfect but that’s also the time of the year when EVERYONE is traveling for the same reason. If you plan your trip during the off season, you’ll likely find prices for everything are a lot cheaper. The reason for this is because there is less demand during the off season so hotels and everything else are competing more intensely with one another over the dwindled number of travelers. It’s a traveler’s market and you can benefit from it.
This same concept also applies to flights. Off season flights to a primary tourist destination can be substantially cheaper by hundreds of dollars verses flying during peak season. With flights, it goes a step further too. You can choose your flights to depart on certain days of the week that are typically cheaper (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday for domestic and on the weekends for international). If you fly early in the morning, close to lunch and dinner, or overnight, you’re likely traveling on the cheap. Most importantly, book your flights early but not too early. If you book too early or too late, you’re spending more than you need to spend. Typically begin shopping for flights between 30-90 days before your desired departure date.
Traveling on the Cheap: Pack Lightly but Smartly
As a blogger, I usually travel with a backpack for my clothes/other essentials as well as a bag for my cameras, computer, notebooks, and blogging essentials. That’s all I travel with and it makes life a lot easier. You see, I don’t need to worry about excess baggage fees. Everything fits into these two bags and I save money because of it. Not only that, my main backpack features a removable day pack so I can back a day bag with snacks and whatnot for my adventures wherever I go.
It’s important to pack smart. Get yourself a rain jacket that can squish down to nearly nothing to save space. Pack clothes that will look great in various combinations and make sure you bring enough socks ( I always worry about running out of socks). There are always stores where you can buy any items you might need but if you pack smart you shouldn’t need to do this. Make sure to bag medicines and stuff that you don’t need on a daily basis like ibuprofen and allergy pills as well as stuff you might need based on your destination such as insect repellent. It’ll save you some stress when you do need them and money.
Don’t be too Cheap!
By following these tips, you’re bound to save money which is always a good thing. But, while I love to save money, there are times when spending a bit is just the best option. For instance, if all available flats look exceptionally sketchy, that’s when I will have no qualms dishing out a bit more. In this situation it’s a question of comfort and safety and I just don’t skimp on that. Another situation you should be OK spending a bit more money is for experiences, and yes that includes dining experiences as well. If you have the opportunity to do something that’s very unique or a once in a lifetime chance, go for it. Maybe saving money other times will make more funds available for these incredible moments. So the moral of the story here is traveling on the cheap should not come at the cost missing out on the experience. Be smart, spend wisely, maximize your traveling experience!
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