A Broke Girl's Guide To Traveling
By Danica Tamura
One of my goals in life is to see as much of the world as I can. Luckily, I started early and have seen several beautiful places around the world. However, I have reached a problem: my wallet no longer wants to support this goal.
With lots (and I mean LOTS) of troubleshooting, I have gathered an arsenal of tips and tricks to get around traveling on a tight budget. If you’re looking to head on a trip but don’t want to blow your savings while at it, read ahead!
I can’t stress this first tip enough. It may seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised at how many of my friends have tried booking trips last minute only to be disappointed because the prices of flights and hotels were too high (shocker). Traveling without planning is also way more stressful than a planned out trip. Look up flight and accommodation prices months in advance prior to your desired vacation dates to gage when prices will be at their lowest. There are lots of traveling services that help out with tracking the prices of flights to ensure you are booking the best deal!
Travel During the Non-tourist Season
I know the prime time to get a picture of a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower is during the summer, but that picture comes at a hefty price. To avoid inflated costs due to peak tourist seasons, try looking at traveling either right before or after the months places are at its busiest. This has worked out for my friends and I as we still get to enjoy the nice weather that comes with peak traveling season but without the high cost. Plus traveling at off peak times usually means less crowds, which is always nice.
Boutique Hotels and Airbnb Are Your New Best Friend
When I first started traveling with my friends, a main concern was always where to stay. I have never been too keen on staying in hostels (more power to you if you don’t mind!) as I have heard a multitude of horror stories from friends about their hostel experiences. I have found that boutique hotels and Airbnb’s have been the best options for looking for nice places to stay that are reasonably priced. My biggest piece of advice is to LOOK AT REVIEWS. Nothing is worse than booking a place to stay and show up to a place that was oversold. I tend to only book Airbnb’s that have at least 10 reputable reviews of the place I’m looking at. Also with Airbnb, if you refer friends on the website and they book a trip, you both get money off for your next trips! This comes in handy when you are traveling to multiple places.
The More the Merrier
I’m all for supporting people traveling on their own for self discovery and the thrill of being independent. But for my people looking to travel on a budget, that may not be the best option. Traveling with family or friends is great because you can split the costs of many things: food, accommodations, transportation, etc. But remember to not have too many cooks in the kitchen, as that can cause issues with how you spend your vacation time if everyone is not on the same page. I recommend traveling in a group of 2-4 so you can split costs of almost everything as well as travel in one group and for hotels, stay in one room.
Alternative Ways to Get Around
This is one of my favorite tips. Flights are not the only way to get around! Trains, buses and cars are a great (and most often cheaper) alternative to flying. In a place like Europe where countries are so close to each other, try getting from place to place by train or bus! I prefer these alternatives when available because you get to see more of your surroundings on your journey from one place to another. Some bus and train tickets can be as low as under $50 (I took a bus from Amsterdam to Belgium for $15 once!). Companies like FlixBus run in several countries and are a great cheaper alternative to flying. For the more brave bunch reading this, renting a car and driving yourself everywhere could be a fun experience getting from point A to point B. Just remember to be cognizant of driving rules in different areas since they may be different from the ones you already know.
Become a Local
I have found that my most fond (and budget-friendly) experiences have been a result from straying away from tourist traps. Yes, you have to go see the touristy sites because they’re popular for a reason, but sometimes you can just walk by sites and that can be enough. Really indulging in the culture of where you are is the best way to get the most out of your travels. Ditch the sites and eat at a local restaurant, go to a bar to interact with locals or attend a local sports match or concert. Opening your eyes to opportunities beyond tourist recommendations may give you the most irreplaceable memories. And if you have time, do day trips to local small surrounding cities! You get an authentic experience without the tourist crowds.
For my people reading this that are still students, take advantage of that discount! Places abroad are usually pretty good at giving students a discount nearly everywhere: restaurants, museums, clothing shops, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask about student discounts wherever you go, the worst answer you get will be no. Just remember to always have your student ID on hand at all times. Every cent saved counts!
These are a few among the many travel tips I have acquired over the time I have spent traveling on my own budget. I hope some of this information has served as useful for my fellow people looking to see the world without spending lots of cash. If you’re taking a trip soon, safe travels!