Cheap Travel Tips to Help You Conquer Your Globetrotting Dreams — Without the Debt
Any kind of international travel is going to require you part ways with your three-years-long accumulation of barista tips — but if you're clever and keep an eye out for small opportunities to save, it's possible to indulge your internal wanderlust without breaking the bank.
1. Never check a bag.
If you're flying or taking trains, carry-on luggage is the way to go. Many airlines charge fees for checking luggage, and having a big bag can slow you down. Having a carry-on duffel bag or something similar can save lots of money in the long term, and a backpack is even better because it leaves your hands free for other money-saving activities!
2. Skip the hotels.
Hotels, even cheap ones, cost a lot of money because you're also paying for the additional amenities that come along with them — like having someone clean your room, or getting a nice lobby to sit in or a restaurant attached. Instead of hotels, scout out local hostels in your planned destinations, which will at least offer you a bed — at most, some companionship in fellow travelers. Or check out sites that let people rent out space in their homes to guests, like Airbnb or Couchsurfing — just make sure to always let friends or family know where you're staying as a safety precaution.
3. Walk and take public transit.
Taxis and shuttle services geared at visitors are usually an unnecessary expense when you're traveling somewhere with public transit. If you're in a city that has a metro, become acquainted with it. In many cities, underground transit isnt' just cheaper — it will get you where you want to go faster. So take the time to do the math and figure out which kind of pass will be the cheapest overall — oftentimes spending more money up front to get a multi-day pass works out to be cheaper in the long run than buying day passes. If you're in Europe and planning to travel to other countries, look into getting a rail pass.
4. Buy groceries, not meals.
It can be tempting when traveling to eat out for every meal, but restaurants, even cheap ones, add up. Cut costs by going to a market or grocery store and stocking up on basics, like bread, local fruit and dairy. A picnic in the park is just as nice as a meal at a cafe, but it's usually way cheaper.
5. Turn your data off.
Instead of paying to use your cellphone data abroad, put your phone on airplane mode for your whole trip and use wifi when it's available. Sure, you won't be able to access internet all the time, but that can only make you more resourceful and "in the moment," right?
6. Seek out free activities.
Lots of cool vacation activities also cost tons of money — but many are absolutely free. Plenty of parks, libraries, hikes, many religious institutions and some museums have no entrance fee. A good tip for finding the best free activities is to ask locals for their favorites. And some activities may cost money but offer discounts to students, so if you have a student ID card, make sure to bring it when you travel.
7. Stay with friends.
The ultimate cheapest way to travel is to mooch off your friends. Map out where your most disparate pals live and then try to stay with them. But be a polite guest and offer to earn your keep by doing dishes and helping out, obviously.