I had never traveled before, and I certainly had never traveled outside of the U. S. before. Yet there I was sitting in the study abroad office, on a whim, determined to live in another country for a semester. Even more baffling was that I preferred to live in a non-English speaking country because that would be too comfortable. I’m not sure what triggered this moment in my life, but I had been bitten by the travel bug and there is no cure. Fresh out of college and paycheck of my own, I was ready for more adventures! That paycheck was small and traveling on a budget in your twenties looks a little different. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. Here is some budget travel inspiration to satisfy the travel itch without draining your bank account.
A place to stay can easily eat away at most of your budget, staying in a hostel is the easiest way to travel cheap. Hostels are dorm-style rooms where you share a space with a few other people. Hostels have gender-specific or co-ed rooms and contain lockers for securing your stuff. The price of a room depends on the location and number of people per room; I have seen prices range from $12 -$50 a night. The more people to a room the cheaper it is. The pricier the town, the costlier the hostel. You might see a $50 hostel in Times Square, where hotel prices exceed several hundred dollars a night. Select a hostel with a kitchen for cooking your own meals so you can be even more frugal. Check out HostelWorld for your next travel destination.
Off-season cruises can be as low as $400 or $500 for one week. Once on the ship, you don’t have to spend any money; all meals and entertainment are included. Entertainment options range from stand-up comedy, poolside games, trivia, and more! If your budget allows, shore excursions range from affordable to not so affordable. If you research ahead of time, some you cand find excursions for cheaper directly from the vendor rather than through the cruise line.
Carnival Cruise Lines offers the Early Saver Price Protection, which guarantees the lowest price (as advertised on Carnival) if booked 91+ days in advance. Its simple, if the price of the cruise drops below what you paid, you’ll fill out a form and they will either reduce your fare or give you onboard credit. To have your fare reduced instead of getting onboard credit, I recommend paying the deposit and waiting to pay the remaining balance until the last minute.
The cheapest way to eat is to limit the number of times you eat out to once a day instead of every meal; that way you can still experience local cuisine without blowing your budget. Pick up a few staples for making on-the-go meals at a local grocery store. You can also bring non-perishables from home to avoid higher cost of living prices. My friends have laughed at me while I cram oatmeal, peanut butter, and protein bars in my suitcase.
Everything about camping is budget-friendly. Camping comes with a low cost “room with a view”, cooking, a BYOB policy, free activities, and no pet fees. Not to mention time in nature and time away from electronics is great for your health.
Reduce the cost of travel expenses by sharing the burden with your friends. Hotels and rental cars become much more affordable when you can split the cost.
It’s about the journey, not the destination. Flying to a destination can be costly, especially if you are flying somewhere remote that requires a rental car. Make driving a part of the vacation by finding interesting stops along the way. In 2016 I road-tripped from Austin to Arizona and New Mexico, stopping at several national and state parks along the way. An 8-day vacation cost less than $300 because we split the cost of the car, gas, campgrounds, entrance fees, and food. See how I combined tips 3, 4, 5, & 6 to make one affordable vacation?