How to Stretch Your Savings and Travel More of the World
Author Mark Twain once warned against vegetating in one's little corner of the earth for a lifetime.
But if you've got the budget of many in today's economy, you're lucky if you take any vacation time at all. How can you see the world and travel on a shoestring budget?
All travel entails some expenditure, but if you learn how to travel on a budget, you can make your holiday dime stretch further. Here's how.
1. Explore international careers
Have you ever wanted to take on route 66 and explore the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon in America? Or take in the bright lights of New York? How about exploring the rich history and eclectic culture of New Orleans? If any of these lights a fire under you, then working in America is definitely for you. Securing a place at a summer camp in America is the ideal entry to the United States, as the J-1 visa will allow you to earn, save and then travel this expansive and beautiful country on a budget.
Have you ever considered becoming an au pair to score travel savings? If you've dreamed of touring every art museum in Paris, you'll need to spend extended time abroad. Why not secure lodging and income by helping a well-to-do family with their child and house care needs? You can also find work teaching English abroad, even if you're not a certified teacher. If you have a bachelor's degree, you can pursue your Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification. Some programs will pay for your certification in exchange for a predetermined term of service in their organization.
2. Take on freelance work
If you've ever explored work-from-home opportunities, you probably receive a ton of email advertising, "Work from anywhere." It does take time to establish yourself as a freelancer, but once you do, you have the freedom to choose your office space. Would you prefer an oceanfront or mountain view?
Another option? You can offer your labour in exchange for lodging. If you can swing a hammer, some hostels — and private homeowners with guest quarters — will happily trade a roof for handy help. A staple for many backpackers, this is the quintessential way of travelling on a budget.
3. Work your rewards
Do you have a travel credit card that pays you in miles? If you have financial discipline, you have an instant way to take advantage of one of the best money-saving travel tips. Use your rewards card for everyday purchases — such as when you run to the grocery store or book an Uber. Then, pay it off immediately when you return to your computer. With this method, you build up your points or miles quickly, but you don't pay a fortune in interest and fees.
Rewards can also come in the form of discounts. If you’re looking for museums, some cities open their doors to visitors for free. Your demographic could also score you some savings — in some French attractions, for example, you can pay less for entry if you’re under age 25.
4. Seize last-minute fares
You can find better deals on flights if you're flexible. Unless you absolutely must depart on a Friday and return Sunday, try to schedule your travel times for midweek to get the lowest fares. You can also find price breaks if you're willing to fly the redeye — you can always sleep on the way.
Sometimes, airlines offer last-minute budget travel deals to fill unsold seats. Download an app that scans for surprise deals to never miss out on an opportunity to get away. If you’d like the hassle removed and for someone to deal with this for you, Smaller Earth has an in-house flight time who will happily help you (that’s if your flights not already included in one of their programmes).
5. Consider a housing swap
Do you have a friend living in Karachi, Pakistan? If you've always wanted to explore the history-rich nation (or any nation for that matter) and they've wanted to visit your home country, why not arrange for a housing swap? In such an arrangement, you house-sit their property while they do the same for you. It helps if you know the host, but you can network on exchange sites as well. You can even find groups that cater to travellers with special needs.
6. Dine in and do your laundry
Take reusable grocery bags and a small hot plate or crockpot. You can cook homemade meals instead of dining out. At the very minimum, brew coffee on your own in the morning instead of hitting up the $5-a-cup shop — if you consume two cups daily, you'll save $70 each week.
Also, who says you need to schlep a different outfit for every day of the week? Choose one colour palette for your wardrobe choices and wash and wear the same clothes more than once. For the women, you can dress down a pair of khaki capris for daytime touring, but pair them with a feminine blouse and strappy sandals when heading out for the night, for example. Guys, the same goes for you, make the most of your wardrobe at your disposal.
7. Seek out free activities
You could pay admission to visit a museum — or you could take a nature walk through manicured grounds for free. Why rent a car when you can use public transportation? Seek free activities to enjoy wherever you go. If you travel to natural areas, you'll find plenty of hiking trails to explore. Enjoying life in the city? Check out free film screenings and restaurant openings featuring samples, gratis. If you’re looking at travelling on a budget, then free activities are the saviours’ in combating boring days.
8. Find hostels, or give glamping a go
People usually envision Europe when you say the word "hostel," but you can find establishments stateside or in the UK countryside, too. Do you prefer more private, if primitive, accommodations? You can find affordable glamping locations where you can rent an RV or a yurt for an evening instead of a pricey hotel room. Such properties give you the feeling of immersing yourself in nature.
9. Live on the road
Finally, if you have work you can do from anywhere, consider selling or storing your possessions and living in an RV for a year — or longer! You can find campgrounds for approximately $30 per night. You can also rough it on national land, especially in the west, where open spaces abound. You can even take your pets with you on the road via this route — the ocean is the only barrier to how far you can go.
Get your travel groove on with these budget travelling tips
Even if you are travelling on a budget, you can sate your travelling bone. Take these travel budgeting tips and enjoy the holiday you deserve today.
About the author
Alyssa Abel is a student life writer whose passions include travel inspiration, study abroad and self-development. Read more of her work on her blog, Syllabusy.