I have slowly mastered the art of cheap globetrotting. It required many mistakes and mishaps to transform me into the budget traveler I am today. Now, with the bank account of a poor, post-graduate, I am still managing to maintain my jet-setting profile.
Here are my top tips for cheap travel:
- BE OPEN-MINDED
This is my ULTIMATE tip for cheap traveling. Be open-minded to destinations and travel dates. When you have a specific place and time in mind, it is difficult to find deals. On the other hand, it is very simple to plan a cheap getaway when you are consistently researching flights for various destinations and dates. I am constantly on google flights (map version), investigating the cheapest flights that are available. I generally just have a continent in mind, such as Europe. Then, I find the cheapest country to fly to within Europe and plan my journey from there. Often times, once you are in a continent, it is reasonable to fly or take trains.
2. CHEAP BOARDING
When I’m traveling, I’m rarely in whatever accommodation I have booked. My time is spent exploring the destination. Generally, I just need a safe space to keep my possessions, a bed to sleep in and a shower.
Hostels have a bad reputation, due to absurd horror movies and irrational stigmas. As a solo female traveler, I have stayed in several hostels and never felt uncomfortable or unsafe. Generally, hostels have helped me to make friends quickly. The best hostel I’ve stayed in is the Flying Pig Uptown Hostel in Amsterdam. This youth hostel has lockers to keep valuables, free breakfast, wifi and walking tours. They have a happy hour at their bar each night which allows travelers to meet and hang out.
If you still feel nervous about staying in a hostel but can’t afford any other boarding, you can always stay in a gender-based room, or even book a private room. Staying in a private room in a hostel is most likely much cheaper than any hotel you will find.
3. WORKAWAY, WOOFING, COUCHSURFING
I have an account with all three of these sites. They are all great options to enjoy free boarding, as long as you’re careful and do your research prior to departure.
Workaway is a great way to travel cheap. This site allows travelers to search through thousands of job postings around the world. These job postings vary greatly, from farming to photography to nannying, all in exchange for housing. Many of the workaway hosts even offer free meals in addition to housing. I know several people who have had great experiences with workaway. However, I suggest thoroughly communicating with the host to make sure that an agreement regarding work expectations is reached.
WOOFING is also an excellent resource for budget travel. WOOFING is similar to workaway but it is strictly organic farming. The traveler works on the farm in exchange for free housing and sometimes meals. There are farms participating in WOOFING all over the world, from vineyards in Italy to avocado farms in Hawaii.
COUCHSURFING is another way to enjoy free housing in your desired location. Couchsurfing does not involve any sort of work exchange. It is simply a site to provide a free couch to those in need. I have found that many of the couch surfing hosts are also globetrotters who enjoy meeting people from all over the world and hope that others will allow them to couch surf when they need to. Just as any online site, there are certainly some sketchy people. Make sure to do your research and only stay with hosts who have lots of reviews!
4. PACK LIGHT
Baggage fees and restrictions are constantly changing, but not in favor of the traveler. One checked bag can be anywhere from 25 to 50 dollars. Eliminate this all together by only bringing a carry-on. It seems impossible, but I’ve done it numerous times. It has saved me from many excess fees on flights. In addition, it is nice to know that your luggage won’t be getting lost since it will be with you the entire time.
5. UTILIZE YOUR FRIENDS
In the past few years, I’ve made countless friends from all over the globe. In the past few months, I have visited friends and family in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Hawaii, the Netherlands and even Australia.
If I had to pay for a hotel in any of these regions, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. Staying with friends for free is a great way to travel. Not only do you benefit from a free place to stay but you also have someone to guide you around to the best local spots.
In return, my friends can visit me at any point, knowing they have a free place to stay and a great guide.