So you really want to travel! You love it, you dream of traversing the planet with a friend or spouse. This has been your desire since you were a kid watching movies about Europe, the Orient, Africa or South America. Okay, what’s stopping you? Oh, it’s money again. Lack of cash often prevents us from doing things we long to do. Well, you can store up money to travel and then there are multitudes of ways to save money while you travel.
1) If you give up that gym membership for a year, you can save around $500-700. Give up that specialty coffee drink you buy each morning and save $400 per year. Brown bag it to lunch and save $800-900. Cut coupons and make a meal plan and save $600-700. Sign up for a movie rental service, plan inexpensive get-togethers in homes with friends instead of expensive evenings out. Stick to a budget and get rid of money owed and interest charges on your credit cards. Do odd jobs or make money on the side using a talent. Rent out a room in your home, and earn $4000-6000. There’s your nest egg for travel.
2) If, even after saving, your budget is still a bit paltry, why not explore interesting destinations within 100-200 miles of your home. Why not try camping? That’s the ultimate money-saver. State and National Parks and Forests are occasionally free or perhaps $10 for admission, or $50 for a year. You can put up a tent or two, use a BBQ pit or Butane stove for cooking, and you’ll spend very little. For activities there’s hiking/biking trails, fishing holes, beach retreats, and rafting runs, and that’s just the beginning of the list.
3) Price differences for travel can be very significant. Try to travel in the off season if at all possible. See if booking a day or two later or earlier results in a better air fare. Try to fly in and out of the same airport. It’s almost always cheaper. For a weekend flight, sometimes leaving on Saturday and coming back Monday can save a bit. If you book an air and hotel package or a cruise package, you can often get it at a discount. Even if you aren’t a frequent traveler, sign up for the reward points. It’s all free anyway, and eventually you may just get a freebie.
4) There are discounts for all sorts of trips and attractions for seniors, children, or students. Always bring your Triple A card too, just in case that qualifies you for discounts. There can also be group discounts if you want to set up a trip as a group.
5) In regard to currency exchange, be careful. Apparently, for Taiwan and France, the best exchange rate is using airport ATMs. But that’s not the case everywhere. For some countries, exchange the currency in advance. Find a bank credit card that offer no-fee foreign currency exchange (at this time, several banks offer this).
6) See if you can book a hotel or bed and breakfast in a small town near your destination. There’s a good chance it will be less expensive than booking it in the big city. If your hotel doesn’t offer a free full or continental breakfast, then skip it. You can most likely find breakfast at a nearby café less expensively than at the hotel restaurant. Try to eat your big meal out at lunch because it is usually quite a bit less expensive than dinner. Something many travelers never think of is grocery shopping in a foreign supermarket. You never what wonderful foods you may find for an outrageously low price. You may also be able to buy cheap drinks there instead of paying top dollar at drink machines.
7) If hotels just cost too much and you’re the adventurous type, check into swapping your home with someone in your dream location. There are websites like Mi Casa Es Su Casa where you can find responsible folks who want to swap homes with you for a week or two. Another option people don’t think of is hostels. Many of them are no longer those harsh, flea-bitten structures where hippies used to crash. There are now nice hostels that charge $15-35 per night. For that you may get a private room for a couple or family, a communal kitchen and laundromat—even high speed internet, game or TV rooms, hot tubs, and activities for the kids.
8) Drive rental cars between 50 and 60 mph to save on fuel, even if the speed limit in a location is much higher. Also, check tire pressure to save on fuel. Try to drop off your rental car at the same center. If you don’t you’ll pay extra. Attempt to rent a small car for fuel economy. Fuel is usually a lot more expensive in other countries than in ours. If you don’t bring the vehicle back with a gas tank full of regular gas, they’ll charge you a lot more to fill it up with high test.
9) Some countries and some airports offer duty-free or tax-free goods. It might be worth the paperwork to get this break if it is available. Some nations are also known for a few products that are dirt cheap compared to the U.S. It pays to learn about this and bring the money to buy such discounted goods.
10) I know maybe I sound like a spoil sport, but there are few worse ways to blow money than wagering and drinking. Everyone wants to have a good time, but, if you’re on a tight budget, make sure you control yourself. It’s an awful feeling to wake up in the morning and realize through an alcoholic haze that you blew the money that was supposed to get you home again safe and sound.
OK, you wanted to know how a penniless wretch like you could ever travel the world and I have spelled out a master plan. You can travel if you save and then spend wisely on the most reasonable methods of travel. Have fun!