I get a lot of questions about how I can afford to travel out of the country every year. First of all, you need to want to do it. When I’m saving up for a trip, I cut back my shopping and eating out. Also, I’m really good at saving when work is busy. I’m not the kind of person that racks up a hundred dollar bar tab. If you are, it’s going to be harder to put the money away. Unless you’re a baller, then by all means, chug!
I never wanted to travel until my mom brought me to Italy when I was in college. Since then, I’ve been to several continents and a whole lot of countries. Some of which I didn’t even know where they were at the time the trips were booked! But anyway, here are some things that have helped me when booking trips:
1) Travel on the off season. The first trip that Jessica and I ever took together was to Vienna and Prague. We booked through Gate 1 Travel and since we were traveling during the off season, we got a ridiculous price. It was in the ballpark of $800 for the flights (to Vienna and Prague), train (back to Vienna), and five nights in hotels. We had to bundle up because it was cold, but it was well worth it. We’ve continued to travel in off seasons due to the amazing prices. It’s also nice to be able to enjoy the trip leisurely and not be in massive crowds. When we visited the Old Town walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia, we had the entire thing to ourselves. I mean literally we only saw one other person up there. It was breathtakingly beautiful and such an amazing experience to not have to fight the masses to get a good photo.
2) Couchsurfing: I mean this in two ways. One is the actual website, Couchsurfing.org. The other is staying with friends. Now if you do the website, it’s like anything else on the internet - just be careful! I was traveling with Jessica again and we only stayed with people that had a lot of feedback and who we spoke with back and forth through e-mail. The site features people who are offering up their spare bed or couch for travelers to stay for free. We did the entire trip that year through this website except for a couple nights in a spare guest house and hostel. We met some awesome college boys in Slovenia who took us to their favorite restaurants and clubs. It was as if we had our own tour guides. They knew a lot about their town and were very proud. Most of the homes we stayed in just gave us a key and said come and go as you please. Our host in Paris made us crepes one night which was a real treat. Now, I mentioned the literal staying with friends under this point too, because it’s a definite way to save. I had friends teaching English in Japan a couple years back who offered up their apartment if I wanted to come visit. My best friend, Drew, is currently in Spain and a group of six of us are going to visit in March. Flights can be around a grand, give or take, for most trips, so free or cheap accommodations are always a plus.
3) Hostels and Flight Alerts: I only stayed in a hostel once but it was a blast. They are cheaper than hotels and you get to meet other travelers. Make sure to keep any valuables on you or locked up though since you are sharing the room with strangers. Jessica and I met some awesome British guys in Croatia when we stayed in a hostel. We had a blast just walking around the city with them. As for flight alerts, you can put into Kayak how much you want to spend on a flight and it will alert you if and when the flights drop below your desired amount. Every little bit helps!
I probably should have broken this post up a bit. There is so much more I could talk about: tours vs. doing it on your own, how to plan your trip, etc. For now, I’ll leave it at that with the possibility of doing another one of these sometime soon. If you have any other questions, or want more information on anything in particular, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy travels!