Tips for Traveling on a Budget

There are people who value material, and there are people who value experience. I can appreciate material to an extent, but I firmly believe that travel is the most precious gift that money can buy. Traveling enhances our lives in so many ways, it makes us kinder, gentler, more compassionate and empathetic, more grateful and appreciative, more aware and less ignorant.

But many of us never leave the same state in which we grew up in… Why? Because life’s a b*&^%. Becoming financially independent is rough, and remaining financially stable is an uphill battle. When we’re struggling to pay all of our bills on time, the thought of spending hundreds to thousands on a “vacation” seems almost comical. 

Here’s what I want you to know: YOU NEED TO DO IT. You need to invest in travel, and by that in yourself. And, you can. You don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands if you don’t want to, and you definitely don’t need to spend that in order to experience a culture or make the most of your trip.

Below are my most important tips that I utilize when traveling on a budget.

  1. Travel with someone. Ideally, this person should be someone who you know you’ll enjoy yourself with. You don’t want to get stuck spending time with someone who makes you work harder to have a good time. Look for someone who is friendly, easy going and down for anything. Having at least one person to travel with is great, because you’ll split all of the expenses like gas and parking, rentals, taxi’s/rides and lodging.
  2. Purchase tickets 6-9 months in advance. Buying a plane ticket 6-9 months in advance could mean a difference from $200-$1,000. Buy the plane ticket as soon as you can (add coverage) and then slowly work on any other reservations. The following month, you can purchase tickets or reservations for something else you want to do while there, and so on.
  3. Don’t try to plan everything. This might be impossible for some of you Type A people out there, but there are a million activities you can pay for and book in advance, and there are twice as many that you can do for free without much planning.
  4. Stay in hostels or air bnb’s. Skip the overpriced hotels.
  5. Do some research. This one goes with the previous tip. Use Google, Pinterest, Lokely and other travel apps to find things to do in the place you’re going. This is as easy as  typing “things to do for free in ________”. As you do this, create organized lists and bounce ideas off the person you’re traveling with.
  6. Pay attention to prices. Little things can add up quickly. Buy 1-2 souvenirs but don’t feel obligated to buy things for every single loved one, that isn’t the point. Chose restaurants that don’t charge an arm and a leg, chances are the local places are better anyways. And walk wherever you can!
  7. Buy snacks from a grocery store and bring a durable water bottle. You don’t need to sit down and eat all the time and the prices of snacks are going to be better at grocery stores. This will also help you get your protein intake up, since you’ll likely be underrating protein and overeating carbohydrates anyways. Bring your water bottle everywhere; fill it up in the airport, at restaurants and businesses/buildings you pass, instead of spending 3-5 bucks on a new water every few hours.
  8. Start small. Take a trip to another city for a weekend, then commit to another state, and when you feel like you have a good grasp on basic traveling concepts, start planning far in advance for an international trip.
  9. This tip is the last one, but arguably the most important… SAVE YOUR MONEY AVOID USING A CREDIT CARD. You cannot spend hundreds on your nails, fake eyelashes, hair color and treatments, designer clothing (that you probably don’t need), purses and other luxuries. You can’t have the best of both worlds, but you need to consider which is more important to you… is it looking unrealistically flawless all of the time or experiencing the world around you and creating memories that will never fade? All of that cosmetic BS gets tiring, it’s draining your bank account and it’s probably not doing anything other than bandaging your insecurities. Save as much money as possible and if you want, create an account solely for travel savings. As for the credit card, I think it’s a good idea to have that if only for comfort purposes, however, if you have little self restraint, then shred it if you have it.

2018 will be a year full of more travels & adventures, within the states and outside of them. Some of my upcoming adventures may include Washington, Oregon, California (my home state), Greece (again), Ireland, Australia, and Bali.

If you have any questions or want to share tips that others may find useful, let me know!

Xx, Sami

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23 year old U.S. Army soldier, fitness & nutrition coach, wine enthusiast & avid explorer.

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