If you are ballin’ on a budget this article is meant for you!
We all know traveling can break the bank, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to! Follow these simple steps and enjoy all that extra cash you have left.
Take public transportation
Not only is public transportation usually super cheap, it is always an adventure to become a part of a culture wherever you are traveling, and taking public transportation will definitely immerse you wherever you decide to travel to. For instance, the subway systems in NYC and D.C. are actually extremely easy, and an added bonus for world travelers, they are in English! Take advantage of metro apps while traveling in your homeland (see: HopStop). The metro and bus systems in Copenhagen are also extremely easy to navigate, especially if you have the Rejseplanen app that shows you exact times of arrival and departure for all public transportation. In Greece the public bus will only set you back less than 2 euros, and its a hell of a lot of fun to ride through that cliffside clutching the seat in front of you wondering if you’ll make it alive (its all part of the experience). Make sure that if you are taking public transportation that you know where you are going before you step foot outside your hostel. Public stations are a huge place for cons and pickpocketers, so look and act like you know what you are doing. This goes for every country you visit, you must be prepared. Look up your desired route while you still have WiFi in your hostel and then take screenshots of maps and routes to have with you in case you don’t have internet. If you are a solo female traveler, try to avoid public transportation at night, I know it is inconvenient, but it is for your safety, you can never be too careful.
Plan your meals & eat like a local
Know where your next meal is coming from. This means doing some research beforehand, knowing when you will be spending the big bucks for fancy dinners and experiences that you don’t want to miss (i.e. dinner at the Eiffel Tower). My favorite websites for finding the best eats are Thrillist and Eater. These websites not only show you reviews, but also use a ranking system to show you how expensive the restaurant is. Planning doesn’t necessarily mean know where you are eating every meal every day, it just means knowing what funds you are allocating to food every day. For example, in Athens, I planned to have street gyros every day for lunch. They were absolutely delicious, and cheap, and this meant that I got to go nicer places for dinner. Instead of going to that Michelin starred restaurant, try eating at the local market. Not only will you get a true sense of flavors of the city, but you will get immersed in the cooking culture as well.
Invest in all inclusive tours
If planning your own trip seems like the hardest thing in the world, invest in pre-made all inclusive tours from companies such as Contiki and G Adventures. These tours include accomodations, some meals, and excursions, but don’t include airfare. These tours are for the person who doesn’t want to have to worry about money while on vacation, everything is planned out and you know exactly how much money you will be spending in the end.
Ask for specials
Most cities have special offers for tourists. This could include special travel cards (i.e. the Copenhagen Card) that gives you access to the most popular attractions and museums in a certain city for a baseline price. A lot of times historical cities with museums usually have specials for students where you can get in for free with a passport or student ID (Ex. All over Paris and Athens you can get into museums for FREE!).
Book flights early
The key to saving money on flights is buying at the right time. For international travel this is usually 3-6 months before your trip. Flight deals can also happen at the most unexpected time, and to know about them you should be a part of free flight awareness programs such as Scott’s Cheap Flights. With this service, they do all the heavy lifting for you, and they find the best airfare deals and deliver them into your email mailbox every day. If you prefer to search for yourself, don’t forget to check comprehensive flight sites such as Momondo, Google flights, and Kayak. This way you get all of the airlines in one place and you can even filter by budget.
Know your rights
Something a lot of people don’t know is that you have certain rights as a traveler within the EU. One such right is that if your flight is delayed more than 3 hours, you are eligible for a full refund of your flight according to EU policy. Trips don’t always go as expected and sometimes shit happens, but if you know your rights, you might just get some of the money you thought was lost back.
Stay in Hostels
I cannot stress this enough. If you are a twenty-something backpacker there is no reason you shouldn’t be staying in hostels. In fact, if you are a fun loving thirty-something you should be staying in them too! Hostels today are not what they used to be. They are clean, a great place to meet people, in perfect locations, and all around a pleasant experience. Not every hostel is like the Ritz, but what the hell you are young, you can “rough it”* for a few nights. Hostels are the perfect place for solo travelers to meet other people with the same interest in traveling and the world. I have met some of the coolest places from around the world in hostels. In fact, some hostels even have their own pools or bars which are perfect places to kick back and relax and meet other fellow travelers in a laid back environment. There is also a widely spread rumor that hostels are party centrals. Now there are party hostels, that take you on bar crawls and blast music at night, which some of you may think “that sounds like the best thing ever” and if you do then go for it! But you should know, not all hostels are party hostels, in fact most of the ones I have been to have been extremely tame, so no need to worry. Hostels are extremely cheap options for a great place to spend the night, most are equipped with WiFi, great bathrooms, bunkbed style dorms, and some even have washing machines and movie and game rooms!
*Truly you are not really roughing it if you have a clean place to sleep and a nice bathroom to poop in.