Traveling the World on a Budget
Two traits that guide my decisions more often than I care to admit are my love for traveling and my love for saving money. Now these two traits are pretty contradictory and I struggle finding the balance between treating myself while on vacation and hoarding my remaining cash, BUT I've found that there is a way to make your money go far on vacation. I'm not saying vacations are not expensive, they can be, but they do not have to be as expensive as society makes them out to be. Take Europe. Our society has trained us to associate European vacations with spending thousands upon thousands of dollars for boutique hotels and overpriced French food, but a European vacation does not equate to bankruptcy. I recently purchased round trip tickets to Europe for $400. That is less than many weekend festivals we now commonly see. So how can you capitalize on traveling internationally while on a budget?
I've found that the easiest way to cut costs on your trip is to fly out of big airports. Living in Arizona, I am lucky enough to have a six hour drive to LAX. Recently I went to Spain with a group of friends and we flew out of LAX. That six hours cuts down our airfare by about 500$. Obviously, the cost for gas and parking needs to be taken into account but for me, I was traveling with a group of friends who were splitting the costs. For hotel and three weeks of parking at that hotel, we each paid 65$.
Airbnbs and hostels are also incredible alternatives to the traditional hotel. I am a huge proponent of Airbnbs because it allows you to have not only more space but to experience more bang for your buck and individualism. Throughout all of my stays at Airbnbs, I have only stayed with wonderful hosts who were professional and helped with suggestions for restaurants and activities. And even if the host is not the most engaged (which they always are) technology has revolutionized the concierge services. You can easily find restaurants near you without worrying about getting biased information like you sometimes have to worry when speaking with a concierge. And of course if you want to save even more and your search result does not find cheap restaurants, Airbnbs have kitchens! Woohoo!
When traveling in small groups or alone and you are looking to save money, hostels are the way to go! I've found that when traveling with a big group however, your Airbnbs can be cheaper than what a hostel will cost too! Both are certainly options that need to be looked at, but Europe offers both cheap hostels and cheap Airbnbs that are in awesome locations for significantly less than most hotels you will come across.
If you are trying to save money on vacation, the best way to do it is also by being flexible. If you know exactly what you want to do, then do it. But having a set mindset on what your vacation should equate to will often pigeonhole you into expensive plans. I have found that some of my most fun vacations have been finding a cheap sandwich shop and bringing food to a beach or park and enjoying my surroundings with the people around me. Spending more money does not always dictate how much fun you will have. The picnic you have on the lawn under the Eiffel Tower can be as much fun as the expensive restaurant that costs you a day's budget on the other side of the street! Be willing to change up your plans! Whether that be transportation (flight vs bus vs train), food, accommodations (Airbnb vs hostel vs hotel), there are cheap and safe places to be found! Know when to save and when to spend, keep an open mind, and any vacation will be fantastic!