Globetrotting Guru: Travel Hacks for Those on a Budget

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

As I'm sitting here on a plane with a guy jamming his knees into my seat, sitting too close to people I don't know, and with 10 shirts jammed into my carry on, it dawned on me; this is how I travel on a budget. No one said it was glamorous, but it is definitely manageable. 
Whenever I tell people I am jetting off to some new place, they typically ask two questions...

1. Why there?

2. How do you travel so much? 

I'd like to address these in a more in depth way as they both go hand in hand to traveling on a budget.

Why there?

A lot ties into this question. I usually respond with a casual "why not," which is not far off from the actual truth. I want to see as many places in the world as I can. People say life is short but I say life is long if you experience it in a curious manner. 

My answer could be influenced by various outlets. 
-my friends wanted to go and I wanted to tag along
-I read an article about a bakery they have there, and I want to check it out ( I will go to the ends of the earth for some baked goods)
-flights were stupid cheap
-it's on my dream draft 

I have goals. One includes getting ten stamps in my passport by the time it expires. That is in five years and I currently have 4 going on 5 and 6 in 2017.  If I picked my destination for every one of those stamps I'd clear my savings by the third sticker. Which leads me to my next point...

How do you travel so much?

I used to say "I want to go here," and I would go, but there was no way I could keep that lifestyle up working part time at $10 an hour, so I explored new options. I approached traveling in a different manner.

You don't pick the destination. The destination picks you. Every travel spot is going to have an off season. That is when they will have the best deals to go to to said destination. You may want to go to Turks and Caicos but I would wait until February when the holiday buzz has settled down and spring break is approaching. Otherwise, you're going to pay premium price to go at a premium time. 

Travel in packs. Friends, groups, and family are the best way to travel. Although it is not as efficient because you have to accommodate more than one person, it will cut your spending in half. Get yourself a travel buddy. By splitting hotel and food costs you can significantly reduce your payout. 

Look for packages. I'm not talking about the ones on your front porch; a travel package. A lot of people think booking one way flights with multiple stops will save them money. Those people are not wrong BUT the time you spend hassling with all of that makes the savings not worth the trouble. I like to look on Priceline, Groupon, and Expedia for vacation deals. Typically, for a few extra dollars more you can book your hotel, flight, and transportation directly. You're still saving money and doing so with less headaches. Tourism is a year-round gig, somewhere a travel spot needs more globetrotters running around and they're willing to cut prices in half to do so.

Don't wait. Coming from someone who lives an airline life full of regret, all I can say is if you see prices that make you say "Whoa, thats cheap," book it. Chances are the prices will go up before they go down, and IF they do go down it won't be by much (plus most websites offer price matching if you find a better price). Seems like a win-win right? It is. Take advantage of it. I'm an avid Hopper user. It tracks flight prices for you and notifies you when they rise or fall. 

I am a travel advocate. Why would mother nature give us the Seven Wonders of the World if she didn't want you to see them? Why would we be required to take geography if we weren't supposed to familiarize ourselves with other cultures? Why would God give us two legs if we weren't supposed to move with them?

As you can see, there really is no big secret. Being thrifty with your money and wise with your time are the ultimate factor to a great lifestyle of travel. It might take a little extra time and effort to get it right but this is one of those things in life you can count on paying off. 

Do you have any great tips on travel? Please share them in the comments below, if not for other readers, for me!

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