I find it incredibly unfortunate that many people scoff the second someone mentions the idea of traveling. I find their gut reaction is to say it’s impractical because it’s too expensive. I like to think these people envision traveling as exclusively flying in first class, being picked up by a limousine to drive them to their five start resort where they are escorted to their penthouse rooms. Of course I am being facetious but I’m sure this does not provide solace to the penny-pinchers that think they are going to need to take out a second mortgage to travel. Over the last two years I have traveled all over the world and I can say for a fact that not only is it totally within one’s budget but utilizing these travel hack techniques I use when I travel will make your experiences entirely more memorable and authentic.
I have found there are two types of travelers. There are what I call the “old school travelers” and the “experience travelers.” Being a millennial myself (yes, I love avocado toast ), I view travel through the latter lens. What do I mean by “old school” and “experience travelers?”
I find that “old school travelers” are:
Mostly concerned with focusing on the comfort that they will experience during the vacation
Utilize vacation as a way of escaping their “real lives”
Often resort to tour guides to do most of the planning and entertainment for their trips
Are willing to spend extra to stay in a fancy resort
Depend primarily on the concierges for suggested places to go
Primarily highlight their trips on the “must go tourist places"
The Pros I find of this travel lens are:
Highly structured vacations that require minimal planning
A “comfortable” vacation with minimum stress
A guaranteed way to hit the highlights
The Cons of this travel lens are:
The feeling of being carted around and not being able to take your time
Spending hefty sums on guides and places to stay
Not having an “authentic” experience
On the other side, I find that “experience travelers” are:
Focused primarily on the experience they have from going
Are able to “rough it” more
Have much more flexible schedules (although this is not always guaranteed depending on your personality)
Are more prone to look into budget traveling
Utilize vacation not as an escape but as a way of enriching their lives by learning about others cultures and histories
The Pros of this travel lens are:
Keeping costs relatively low
Having authentic experiences and opportunity to learn about your own home cultures idiosyncrasies
Focusing more on the “hidden gems”
The Cons of this travel lens are:
Sacrificing comfort and convenience
Potentially having a chaotic and often nonconcrete schedule
Not always experiencing the “best of the best” of the place you are visiting
Part of the reason why so many people think that traveling is too out of the question is because they do not even think to view their travel with the “experience travelers” lens. They only see the daunting costs one might have if viewing travel with the “old school travelers” lens. Before you consider traveling, ask yourself which lens I look through about traveling before you make the effort to plan a trip. It might be very enlightening.
So here is the good news for the naysayers that say that traveling is out of the question. There are MANY ways you can travel on a budget and have an amazing experience. It first takes a lens shift (as well as other badass travel hacks!)
These are the top travel hacks that I have found that will help you on your next trip and will inspire you to take the trip of your dreams!
1) Budget Airlines
This is primarily the way that I have been able to afford most of my traveling all throughout the world. There are countless budget airlines that are reliable enough and very cheap.
Some budget airlines I have used are Peach, Wow!, Scoot, Southwest, Air Asia, Air China, Hainan Air, Tiger Air, Aeroflot, Jetblue, Easyjet and Ryanair.
Another way to try and shave off money from your trips is to use the right travel search engines. Instead of using Expedia, Travelocity or Kayak. Try the search engines, skyscanner.com, momondo.com, skiplagged.com, cheapoair.com and airtreks.com.
Always try to find the cheapest seats available which are usually in coach.
To make the ride more enjoyable, I always try to choose aisles seats. What is cool is that many airlines websites offer software that allows you to choose which seats you want to sit in before boarding. So make sure you take up those aisles seats!
If you don’t want to spend forever searching for flights, I would use Google Alerts. What this software allows you to do is to have Google consistently be scanning the internet for different flights to certain places at certain prices. Therefore you don’t have to do the grunt work of looking through site after site.
I would also follow budget travel blogs via Facebook. These blogs are always posting error fares and discount deals you might have missed. Often times they post flights to unique counties that you might never have considered visiting!
For an even cheaper flight, try to limit your bag to a single backpack with no checked bags. This could easily shave off anywhere from 75-150 bucks from your trip depending on the airline and destination. Most all the amenities you need are available in the country you will be visiting!
2) Travel on off days
Instead of traveling on the weekends try to book your flights on Tuesday and Wednesday as they are often the cheapest days to fly.
Another good tip I have found is to research into the country you are going to and see if there are any national holidays going on. I have found that during national holidays, the ticket prices are much higher than usual. I always try to travel a few days after national holidays of the countries I am visiting as I find their prices are much lower.
3) Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Hostels.com
Although Airbnb is still a great option, I have found that it is not quite the same as it used to be. It is more seen as a business now than as an open home but it is still a great option for budget travel.
By far the best way to travel on a budget is by utilizing Couchsurfing.com. It is essentially an online community of people that open their homes to travelers for a few days. I have had the most incredible experiencing traveling using Couchsurfing and it has saved me unbelievable amounts of money. I would suggest that you become a member. This is a one-time fee of $20 to make sure you are a more trustworthy traveler. It also boosts your profile for perspective people looking to host you/have you host.
Another cool aspect of the Couchsurfing community is that is has a sub-community within the website with people interested in meeting up with locals or fellow travelers. I personally have met some really awesome people utilizing this feature.
Due to the nature of the people that utilize Couchsurfing, it is a community based on trust and respect. So don’t be a jackass that decides to treat someone’s home like your own and trash it. You are a guest and they are not there to serve you.
Hostels.com is also another great place to find cheap backpacker places to sleep. Most are not entirely too glamorous but then again you are not traveling just to stay in the hotel the entire time. You are there to experience a different country.
4) Traveling with Others
Not only is this a great way to share experiences, but it is also a great way to save expenses.
I have found that a total amount of four people per trip is the maximum amount of people one should travel with for a comfortable trip. Any number over that becomes too much of a hassle.
The ideal amount of people I travel with is one other person. This is very manageable and helps balance costs
5) Traveling to cheap countries
Many people want to travel to the most popular countries in the world. I have found the problem with this being that you are in for a highly touristy experience in overcrowded places.
I would instead focus on traveling to places that have a much cheaper cost of living. Some areas of the world that come to mind are Latin America, South East Asia, Eastern European Countries, African Countries and Balkan Countries.
If you really want an adventure and keep your costs incredibly low. I would look into the hitchwiki.org community. This is a website frequently updated with tips and tricks on how to hitch hike in different countries. It also gives a good overview of people’s attitudes towards hitchhikers in different countries. Some places are much better than others. You will find that hitch hiking is very easy to do in European countries as well as many Asian countries.
I can honestly say that utilizing most of these travel hacks has not only made my travel experiences incredibly memorable and special but it has also made my costs incredibly low. I would say that by utilizing these travel hacks, I have been able to make my trips comfortable and fun for a very low price. Of all the traveling I do around the world, I have been able to make each trip average anywhere from $500-700 total for a 5-7 day trip. These prices include the costs of flights, inner country travel, lodging, attractions and food. Let this be an inspiration to our would-be travelers! There are adventures calling your name. All it takes is lens perspective change and a few travel hacks!