As I have been getting last minute errands done before my adventures begin this summer, I would like to share with everyone how it is definitely possible to travel on a budget and how to do it. People are always asking me how I can afford to travel so I’ll share with everyone.
1. Find a job
In my experience, waitressing is the best job to have as a college student to earn money. Depending on the restaurant you work at and how many weekend shifts you have, you can make ~$300 a week. That being said, you have to be willing to give up partying on the weekends cause more often than not you’ll be working till 12 or later on weekends and will be too tired to do anything after. $300 seems like a lot but if you don’t save it then it’s no help. You can save a lot of money by not spending (or cutting back) on alcohol, clothes, going out to eat. $10 here and $20 there adds up faster than you think.
2. Pick a destination where the US dollar is worth more than the local currency.
Everyone’s first choice of place to travel tends to be Europe where the Euro is worth more than the dollar. This means you’ll have to save up more because you’re going to end up spending more there. That being said, Europe is a great place to start traveling because it is easy to get around and you have access to so many countries. Europe was the first place I traveled to without my family and was absolutely gorgeous, but I was only there for 2 weeks. Look into countries that are more off the beaten path.
2. Look into volunteering abroad programs.
This is my favorite way to travel because you get to really immerse yourself in the culture while giving back to the community. Often times you’ll have to pay a fee to go even though you are volunteering. Mostly the fees cover housing, food, and may include a small donation to the organization. However, you want to be careful because there are lot’s of scams on the internet. Your school may have programs available (it was though my school that I went to China, Nicaragua, Malawi, and Fiji) or you can look at travel books/ sites such as lonely planet and see their recommendations. You end up saving a lot of money this way because you’re mostly staying in one place. Weekend travels are often possible and some organizations may even have programs to take you places.
3. Set a budget, make a plan.
Before you go anywhere, set a budget and plan what you want to spend your money on. Account for the cost of plane tickets, accommodation, and transportation as these tend to be the most expensive. Then look into how much the activities you’d want to do would cost. Don’t forget to always include extra money for miscellaneous stuff because you’re going to want the comfort of being able to pick up a cool souvenir or do something you didn’t account for. (I.e. I got scuba certified with the extra money I saved as my “miscellaneous” money.) After you have a ballpark of how much you’re going to be spending, plan by week how much you need to save in order to reach your budget goal by your departure date. This will help you keep on track and will also prevent you from spending money on things you don’t really need.
4. Book plane tickets early and look for dates leaving on Tuesday
Booking tickets early is always a good idea. For some reason, plane tickets seem to be cheapest when you fly out on Tuesdays. My favorite site to use are kayak and hipmunk but look around on other sites too. Check different dates as prices change from day to day.
5. Live the way the locals do.
I never understood the appeal of fancy all inclusive hotels, instead stay at a hostel/backpackers, eat the local food, go to the markets, take the bus, walk. Not only will you save a ton of money this way, you will get to experience how others around the world live their daily lives. You will gain respect for the culture and the people in your country and they will appreciate you for wanting to get to know their culture. Try to learn some of the language before hand! People may not understand you, but people will see that you are trying and will be more willing to help you out.
6. Have Fun!
Don’t forget to have fun! Traveling is a great learning experience, it opens your mind, forces you to be independent, and gives you confidence. If you ever feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath and relax– you can do it.
I’ll be posting all about my Brazil trip soon and I’ll go over how I planned everything to show how you too can travel on a budget!