After years of late-night term papers, cramming for exams in coffee shops, and living in the library, you finally have your hard-earned diploma in hand. You have officially entered the “real world” after hours of reading about it in books. As a recent graduate, you are likely curious about the world around you and eager to see as much of it as possible. While a pile of student loans and a modest income make travel seem impossible, there are plenty of easy ways to turn your wanderlust dreams into a reality. If you are ready to expand your learning out into the world, here are eight great ways to successfully travel on a budget.
One of the most common mistakes of new travelers is that they try to see too much too fast. While taking a whirlwind Europe trip to see 10 countries in a month may help you cross more items off your bucket list, doing so is a disservice to both you and your wallet. The more items on your itinerary, the more money you spend on transportation, which quickly gets expensive. Additionally, fast travel offers less of an opportunity to enjoy and uncover the unique offerings of each destination. While it can be difficult to limit your schedule, doing so will ultimately make your travels more relaxing, rewarding, and affordable.
Travelers who have a strict itinerary often pay more during their trip because they don’t have the opportunity to work their schedule around budget-friendly deals. If flexibility is an option, it’s easy to save money by taking advantage of free admission days for museums and points of interest. Additionally, flexibility also means that you can save on airfare by choosing to travel on days with cheaper flights.
Explore Your Own Backyard
Don’t assume that traveling means you’re required to visit a far-off location that’s thousands of miles away from home. If money is tight, taking a quick road trip to a place of interest can be just as fulfilling as a trip abroad. After all, the best part of travel is the journey, not the destination. Spending time on the road is a precious way to reconnect with yourself, see memorable sights, and meet interesting new people without the stress of a language barrier.
Use the Buddy System
While there are clear benefits of solo travel, taking your journey with a companion can save you some serious money. When you’re traveling with someone else, you can share expenses on food, accommodation, and transport. This often cuts travel costs in half. If you’re not set on flying solo, grab a group of college friends to rent a house for a quick getaway, or embark on a longer journey with your roomie for a BFF trip you’ll remember forever.
Try Work Exchange and Volunteer Opportunities
Accommodation and food are two of the biggest expenses travelers incur during a trip. If your funds are limited, work exchange and volunteer programs are excellent alternatives to traditional housing options. Not only will you save huge amounts of money, but both are ways to get off the beaten path, spend time with locals, and immerse yourself in a new culture. Try visiting sites like WWOOF and Workaway for opportunities all over the globe.
Visit Budget Destinations
How do so many of your twenty-something friends from school afford to stay on the road for so long? They’re strategic about location. While Amsterdam and Paris might be at the top of your list, they’re incredibly expensive and you won’t get much bang for your buck. If your bucket list is bigger than your bank account, start with cheaper destinations like Southeast Asia and save up for the more expensive ones. In some parts of the world, you can get by for less than $30 a day without sacrificing a rich and meaningful cultural experience.
While being prepared for anything may bring you a sense of security, packing half of your closet is unnecessary, cumbersome, and expensive. Paying extra to check your bag on flights adds up over time, and too much luggage is limiting when you want to utilize cheap travel options like ride sharing, motorbikes, bicycles, or even walking. Living with less will help you feel lighter and dissuade you from buying needless items that will weigh down your luggage, saving you even more money in the long run.
Decide What’s Important to You
Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on amazing experiences. It simply means that it’s more critical to prioritize what is most meaningful to you so that you don’t spend your limited funds on experiences you’d be okay with skipping. If you’re a foodie who loves to try new restaurants, make room in your budget to spend money on a few nice dinners. Travelers who seek thrills should skip souvenirs and splurge on once-in-a-lifetime experiences like scuba diving or excursions. Spending money on only the items at the top of your bucket list will not only help you stick to your budget, but ensure that every moment of your trip is meaningful, enjoyable, and suits your unique travel style.
What are your tips for traveling on a budget?
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