Traveling on a shoestring budget can be a little daunting, but done the right way you can see the world for very little money in exchange for a whole lot of experiences. And why not? Even if you only have a few long weekends coming up, exploring the world has never been easier. We put together a few resources to help along the planning process so you can simply say yes, pack, and board.
How to get there ?
Often the first problem confronted in planning any trip is the transportation. Thankfully, there are companies like Ryanair and EasyJet that make flying (domestically in Europe) almost a non-issue with their super-discounted airfare. There are often flights as low as €10. The tradeoff is often a cheap ticket for a total lack of customer consideration, but hey we get what we pay for. If you are living overseas from your dream destination, Skyskanner is a great resource for finding the cheapest flight option. I once found a $250 round-trip ticket from NYC to Paris, but it was from a Monday night to Saturday morning – to take advantage of that price you have to be ready to just go ! Point is, if you look hard enough, you’ll find an affordable solution. When traveling domestically, the bus system in the US and most parts of central and south america is key when looking for cheaper options, but you have to have time to burn, because you’ll be riding for anywhere from an hour to a couple days depending on your destination. In Europe, European rail companies are so well integrated, that finding a way to get somewhere is easy enough – although the prices do fluctuate with the seasons and are often more expensive than some plane tickets, so keep an eye out.
Where will I stay?
The next biggest issue when planning out a trip is your sleeping accommodations. Here, there are many options including camping, hostels, airbnb and couch-surfing. Each of these comes with its own culture and range of necessary preparation/experience. First and foremost, hostels are often the safest, and simultaneously most affordable option, and are super prevalent in most parts of the world. www.hihostels.com has information on booking and searching for youth hostels all over the world.
Camping is a viable option as well, which costs very little if anything at all, but where you will be allowed to camp in each city may dictate the destinations you can or will visit. FindACamp can help you find the best spot for your tent if you are traveling through Australia. Other sites are available with information about campsites in any city. Couch surfing has become a worldwide community, and provides travelers with a way of meeting new people and experiencing the local flavor from a locals living room. Can’t get any better than that. Lastly, there is AirBNB – the higher end of the bargain overnight stay, but there are some real gems to be found here, and you’ll be staying in a home, not just a utilitarian room with beds.
If all these options seem to either not be an option or are unavailable, the airport could be your home for the evening. Be advised that you should be ready to show your next morning boarding pass to security personnel with a good story, but this is a real option when necessary. Go to SleepinginAirports.com for more useful information.
Food ? Spending money ?
When it comes to spending on meals and general activities, it’s all a matter of what you want to do with your trip. Many travelers (young travelers primarily) engage in what is called a work exchange program where you work in exchange for room and board, and some meals. WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a worldwide organization that allows volunteers to work in exchange for room and board. This can be a great way to travel, practice a language, learn new skills, meet new friends, and have experiences that will last a lifetime, only for the cost of your time and effort.
For most food options, local markets serving fresh produce and freshly prepared take-away food are generally more affordable than eating at restaurants in major cities. Still, this requires a bit of research, and totally depends where in the world you are traveling, You could find your best meal at a bakery in Paris selling a fresh sandwich for €3, or a 4 course meal in Barcelona for just €11 (which was the surprise case for my most recent trip to Spain) – try looking around websites like Tripadvisor for accommodation recommendations. Creating a budget for daily spending including food and monuments (depending on your desired travels) will take the most time, but it is possible to tune this part of the trip to something quite affordable on any budget.
So there you have it Travelers ! A brief resource and word of motivation for getting out there. Live the « Pack and board lifestyle » because you can. With a little bit of planning, really anything is quite possible. Happy Friday and Bon Voyage à Tous !