I started traveling as a broke college student. When you have the travel bug, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Be flexible with your travel plans. I cannot stress this one enough. Most people do not understand how I have so much vacation time or funds. You have to watch the travel deal sites constantly without having one destination in mind. Also, keep in mind that most deals are for the major airports, so sometimes it is best to buy two separate flights. Being able to pick your trip/vacation based on a deal helps save money. Also, it helps if you are willing to “volunteer” your seat on overbooked flights. I am usually the first one running to volunteer if they are paying me for a future trip.
2. Just do it. You will never have enough money or time if you make excuses. It is good to be aware of a budget but do not let that limit your decisions.You can always pay back what you spend in little chunks. I would rather see the world when I am younger with less commitments before I do have the money with less flexibility.
At the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park
3. Go to the tourism office/talk to locals. You can get great ideas on how to save money or what the locals do if you take time and ask. Doing this can result in great stories.
4. Have no regrets. If you are going to regret not doing something you had an opportunity to do, then you have to accept the decision. However, if you absolutely know you will regret it later, then it may be worth splurging.
5. Be aware but not scared. Be aware of your surrounds when traveling. It is ok to get out of your comfort level but be confident when you don’t feel it. Safety is always important when traveling.
6. Pack light. It is important to pack light if you are jumping from multiple locations. No one remembers you are wearing clothes over and over again. Also, it can be easy to find laundry services if you are in dire need of washing your clothes. For my adventure trips, I have created an Adventure Packing Spreadsheet. I look over my list and decide what is necessary for the trip. I then pull out all my items I checked and make sure it is not too much before actually organizing everything into my pack. Think: how many times during the trip will I be wearing this? If it is only once or twice, you can probably go without it. Also, it is important to try and stick with one color scheme. Layers will be your best friend. Simple is better. I usually take one black or gray t-shirt to wear with a pair of jeans.
Backpacking Torres del Paine
Money Saving Tips:
1. Find travel deals. One site I use a lot and is Travelzoo. However, the deals have not been as great as they were a few years ago. I also use Kayak to find the best rates for flights, hotels, and rental cars.
2. Do your research on hotels and compare prices to locations. Sometimes taking a quick metro ride is cheaper than paying to be in a central location. If the trip allows it, camp when you can. Camping is usually much cheaper than staying in hostels or hotels, but keep in mind that you have to carry more gear.
3.Travel off-peak season. I know it is easy to justify vacations when you have an extra day off from work, but you also risk a more costly trip. Again, be flexible.
4. Sign up for frequent rewards programs. I am a member of too many. Keep in mind that some companies have alliance or partnerships with other airlines where you can reap the benefits. One of my first credit cards was an airline card. If you go down this path, I suggest researching all the terms and looking into options that allow you to use your points across multiple companies.
5. Take public transportation. Most countries have decent transportation infrastructure. Research this option before renting a car.
6. Avoid “wasting” your travel funds on things you would do at home. For instance, going bar hopping and ordering things that you would normally. You are not trying anything new, so why spend extra money.
7. Go grocery shopping. Most of our trips include hikes or camping, so we usually do this. However, it helps save when you need to snack between meals.
8. Research if it is worth getting a discount tour pass. Most large cities have these and will save you money on museums and other attraction entrance fees.