“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
Travel—particularly traveling on budget—truly broadens the mind. Immersion in a new culture broadens your perspective. While resorts are all nice—everyone needs some R&R—the purpose they serve is neither cultural nor didactic. They can’t compare to the experience of an authentic, untouched community in the mountains.
If you seek the experience of a lifestyle that’s different from anything perviously experienced, worry about the money later. Even making by making minimum wage, travel is possible if you’re frugal enough. There are countless resources online that discuss budget travel but sorting through all of these can be daunting. Let’s simplify it:
Plan on living out of a backpack and sacrificing most of the comforts and amenities of home.
You will be better for it, and it will enable you to travel faster and farther than if you were shackled to a big, bulky suitcase. When I first decided to try giving up my suitcase for a backpack I was worried I wouldn’t have the room to fit all of my travel necessities. It wasn’t until I packed only what I could fit in my backpack that I realized what a blessing leaving it all at home was.
Less to carry, less to lose, less to worry about. It’s that simple.
Choose a place that’s inexpensive to get to and inexpensive to stay in.
You can live in Vietnam for a couple of dollars, but if you’re traveling from the Boston area, the cost of the flight alone could pay for an entire trip to Peru. Find the middle-ground between the two and organize your bucket list accordingly. Some trips require longer to plan and save in order to get what you want out of them while others are easier to figure out as you go.
Reduce every possible daily expense.
Cook your own food when you can and be sure to eat in reasonable restaurants. In my experience, authentic restaurants tend to be on the cheaper side.
Camping trips abroad are a great way to reduce accommodation and food expenses while taking in the natural landscapes. If you have a tent, hostels will often let you camp on site and use their resources for a greatly reduced rate than that of a room.
Transportation is one of the greatest unforeseen expenses abroad. If you can walk somewhere while traveling, walk. It’s good for you, and seeing the countryside a step at a time can be the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of a trip.
Hitchhiking (where it’s safe and legal) is fun, free, and introduces you to the most amazing and generous people.
Many cities now have very simple and efficient bike rental systems which can be a fantastic way to get to know a city. Taxis are not only expensive, but also usually take you through the path of least resistance which tend to be rather bland routes with not much to offer you in terms of sight seeing.
Avoid tourist traps
Sure, there are going to be certain places that you simply cannot avoid but learn to choose your battles. Often the greatest cultural and historical sights and experiences are free, and these are the ones you will value most. Spend time in nature, go hiking, eat street food, and meet the locals: they’ll know what’s worth doing and what isn’t. Try to live like them while you’re there.
Get to know your new friend, free WIFI
I wouldn’t suggest traveling without a cell phone. You need to stay as safe as possible. But limit your phone usage.
Charges quickly rack up when using a phone overseas, even if you’re using a rented SIM card. Free WIFI is your friend, and a really great friend at that.
Most hotels and cafes offer free WIFI. Use Whatsapp or Viber on wifi when you need to communicate with home.
But it all starts at home
One of the easiest steps you can take to aid in your traveling finances begins at home. Try to eliminate superfluous recurring expenses. Any unnecessary expense just makes it harder to travel. If your priority is to see the world, learn how to sacrifice whatever music, magazine, and TV subscriptions you may have. You’ll appreciate them more when they aren’t always at your fingertips anyway.
While the ways to save money are endless, abiding by a few simple rules will allow you to travel further and more frequently. Use them, tweak them, do whatever it is you need to do in order to see as much of this beautiful planet as you possibly can.
- Tags: Travel and Adventure