10 Tips on How To Travel the World on a Budget
Let me say that first off, I know that money is a big deal for everyone. Often people ask us how we can afford to travel so far and so often. Besides the fact that Justin works for Delta (y'all, I will address this!), how do we afford to stay, get around, eat, etc? Because let me say that we live comfortably but we are, by no means, well off. I would say that whenever we travel somewhere we can spend between just a few hundred dollars (in a cheaper area/we're making an effort to stick to a budget) to...not a few hundred dollars if we've made an effort to save up for a particular event. Pujol, I'm looking at you!
Travel CAN be a possibility for everyone! You just have to get creative. Sometimes people get it stuck in their minds that they have to stay at a traditional hotel/traditional methods of getting around or that you have to book everything out way, way in advance. Sometimes last minute flights, hostels, tours, etc. are the cheapest!
Below you will find some little tips and tricks. Now, as a traveler, I'm pretty much willing to stay anywhere as long as it saves a buck so we can keeping eating, keep traveling, keep ordering drinks, etc.! So if you're looking for how to stay in a luxury hotel and get a first class flight on the cheap, this isn't necessarily the list you're looking for. Hah. If you're desperately wanting to travel, you have to get out of your comfort zone. Be willing to meet people, rely on others hospitality, sleep in a dorm style hostel or two, share a meal together. Because, ultimately, isn't that what travel is all about? Connecting with other people over good food, crazy experiences and wonderful views is one of life's greatest pleasures.
Here are your tips and tricks to open up the world of budget international travel!
1.) WWOOF-ing: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms or Willing Workers on Organic Farms. There is wwoof international and wwoof USA if you want to try it first domestically or go ahead and jump into the international scene! Basically you have to get yourself to the farm but everything else is pretty much covered. You help out on the organic farm and you get to stay there for free. The whole idea is that there is a cultural and educational, non-monetary exchange with an emphasis on building a global community. Sounds awesome to me! If you willing to get your hands dirty while helping others and learning about the organic farming culture, jump on over to:
2.) Farm Stay UK: If you're wanting the farm life but don't necessarily want to work, try out staying the night on a farm using:
It seems to be quite popular in the United Kingdom and can act a lot like a bed & breakfast. The concept of staying somewhere and being offered a breakfast for a couple of bucks/free is a bit of a different concept than Americans are used to. Typically, as an American, I'm used to purchasing a night somewhere and expecting some towels and sheets and that's about it. We stayed at Houghton North Farm and Slackhouse Organic Farm while in the UK and we loved it! It's typically off the beaten path so you get a real feel for the towns/non-touristy areas AND you get a pretty awesome meal. You typically have to tell them ahead of time whether or not you'll be eating dinner there and they can arrange something for you. At Slackhouse we had a huge cottage meat pie and at Houghton North Farms we had some really delightful toasties. It was very much so like a mom making their kid breakfast and we loved it.
The prices can range from a few dollars a night to a more expensive price ($100-$150) if it's something quite fancy and offers more stuff.
3.) Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing is a great way to connect with locals and get a free place to stay! The website does recommend that you "verify" yourself with a $60 fee but I haven't done that and I seem to get around on the website just fine. The hosts are, like Airbnb, more likely to accept your request if you have a review from another host and/or guest. You are, essentially, staying on someone's floor, couch, futon, whatever! But hey, it's free. Also, the host will typically ask you to tag along to dinners or bars with their friends. You can definitely get some authentic experiences while traveling. The thing I like is that there is this mutual trust and respect. It takes a lot for a stranger to open up their home to another stranger and, conversely, for the traveler to feel okay taking up space in a stranger's house. I think that's the awesome thing about traveling; you start to realize just how similar everyone is and how there is this unspoken traveler trust. One traveler can and should trust another. That's one reason why I don't lock my stuff up in hostels but we'll get to that in a minute.
4.) Blablacar: This is a ride-sharing app/website but it's not quite like Uber or Lyft. Typically it's someone who is already driving to another country/city and they're willing to pick you up along the way! It's a great idea in concept but, as I've read from others, can be a little frustrating when trying to find one another with no wifi or clearly laid out pick up arrangements. It is available in Mexico as well as many countries in Europe. Remember it's a carpooling concept so you might be sharing the ride with some other people. Sometimes you can find a pretty cheap ride but it also depends on which country you're traveling and some BlaBlaCar drivers will charge by the seat so pay attention to that. It is, one again, a good place to get to know some locals and get some good tips about what to see and where to eat (the most important thing, right?!). Check out Blablacar right HERE.
5.) Skyscanner: Okay, so here is where we pick up the Delta thing. Yes, Justin does work for Delta and we get some pretty cheap/free flights but that leads me to my next piece of advice: you could become the travel companion of a Delta family member and get the same benefits as they do! Or if you're a parent or dependent, you could be put down as someone who can travel under their standby status. It's a little different in that it's not as high up on the list of standby's but it's something. You could also invest in buddy passes but that can really be touch and go situation and you don't get refunded. So, that leads me to Skyscanner. The cool thing about this website is that no only do they have pretty good deals on flights but they also have a tool which not many sites have where you can search "everywhere". Don't quite know where you want to go but you have a budget in mind? Just search you airport of origin and then click Everywhere and you can see just how far your money will take you.
6.) Student/under 26 cheap stuff in Europe: Congrats! If you're under 26 years old and/or a student, you get loads of free goodies in Europe! From cheaper rail passes to free entry into museums, enjoy it while you can!
7.) Eurorail passes/RyanAir: Here are some pretty cheap ways to get around multiple countries! With the Eurorail pass, you can buy a "Global Pass" from around $300 USD which gets you to 28 countries (like, omg), the "Select Pass" which gets you to 2-4 bordering countries from about $160 or the "One Country Pass" from around $70. I mean, what a deal! Or you could brave the infamous RyanAir for cheap-o flights that could nickel and dime you out of choosing them again. Be mindful of your luggage as each additional thing will cost you. This truly is a budget airline that is solely meant for getting from one place to another without any frills. Don't expect any biscoffs!
8.) Eat With: A SUPER cool website that I have actually yet to try out but it's definitely on my list. So, essentially it's a food experience website where you look up the city you're traveling to, the dates and how many people will be eating and you get a list (very Airbnb like) of these folks who are willing to host you at their house for dinner! It's a very unique experience to travel to a place you've never been and eat at a stranger's house AND most likely have food you've never had before. We've done something a little similar in India and we loved it. Sometimes they'll also teach you how to make the food and/or teach you about the local food culture. Prices can range from pretty inexpensive ($20) to pretty pricey depending on where you are and what sort of experience you're looking for. Check out Eat With!
9.) House/pet sitting: There is now a community out there of websites where people who are looking to travel on the cheap and people who are looking to have their house/pet cared for can work together! First off, the most popular website is Trusted Housesitters where you can basically look up a place where you're thinking of going and the dates and you can find people who will let you stay in their house (for free!) while you watch after their pets and/or home. It's that traveler trust again. Don't you love it? :D Some websites like this will ask you to pay a membership fee (this particular website is $119 USD per year) but isn't it worth it to potentially stay somewhere for a month for free?! Obviously you need to take it seriously since you are taking care of someone else's place. There are websites that have a cheaper membership fee but this one happens to just be the most popular.
10.) Cook your own food! Go grocery shopping!: Ahhh...the age old money saver. If you're staying in a hostel or an Airbnb that has a kitchen, I suggest you cook at least once! It's a fun experience. Going to the local grocery store and looking at their produce, breads, veggies, etc. is a good look into their culture. A little off topic but one of the things that I LOVE is that a lot of groceries and 7/11 type places in Europe will ask the customer to pay for their plastic bags so that they're more likely to bring in their own canvas totes. I love that. I really wish America did that.
Anyways, if you cook your own meals you will save oodles of money and it's a fun thing to do. While we were in Iceland and Norway, the food in the restaurants was SO expensive that we did a lot of scavenging the cabinets of the hostel after people left (for good, not just left the hostel haha), gas station eating (the Nordic gas station hotdogs are TO DIE FOR) and grocery shopping.
So you see, future travelers, it can be done! You can get out there and travel on a budget. You just have to be crafty and think outside of the box. Many travelers even find themselves traveling long term with these particular tips. Get out there and experience what the world has to offer! Stop waiting. :}