How to fund your wanderlust
You can scratch your travel itch without breaking the bank. Here's how.
Got a travel itch? Want to see the world but worried you can't afford it? Actually, globetrotting might not be as costly as you think. There are a number of ways for you to manage your finances and live out your own travel dreams.
There are two big factors when it comes to efficient travel. One is economic: Making sure you make and manage your money so you're able to travel is crucial. The other is awareness: Knowing where to look for the best prices and how to get the most for your dollar when you travel will help tremendously.
Whatever your travel goal, whether it be backpacking through Asia or an extended stay on a tropical island, by implementing some changes to your lifestyle and thinking outside the box, you can make it happen. Here are a few tips to help you save money and satisfy your wanderlust without breaking the bank:
Step one: Get your budget in order
There are a lot of little changes you can make to your daily routine that will cushion your bank account so that, when you do want to buy plane tickets, you've got the cash. One of the easiest things to save money on is food. It's time to start eating on the cheap. Cutting back on dining out immediately puts money back into your pocket. Start packing a lunch to work every day. And if you're a social butterfly, don't worry, you don't have to ditch parties completely. Instead, try hosting and organizing home-based activities. Rather than meeting for drinks at a local restaurant, host an in-house BBQ or wine and cheese gathering. Your travel fund will thank you.
Another way to start cutting costs while mentally preparing for a travel lifestyle is to audit your living expenses. Going from renting a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom nets you hundreds of dollars, at least, so consider downsizing. Are you hoarding loads of clothes you never wear? Host a yard sale. Do you really need your car? If not, sell it. You probably won't need it while you're off seeing the world, so let it go.
To the degree that you want to travel, you can eliminate any and all expenses that aren't vital to existence: magazine or gym subscriptions, cable or online streaming services, anything that you can cancel and funnel directly into your travel fund. In addition, if you want some digital-age assistance with your savings, try some money-saving apps, like DIGIT. It taps into your checking account and pulls funds into a savings account based on your spending habits. It takes some getting used to but it's a novel method of keeping money to the side if you're too busy to think about it while daydreaming about your upcoming adventures.
Of course, you'll need to consider your employment situation. Unless you've got the kind of job that lets you work and travel at the same time, you'll need to build up a travel fund before you leave. Take on extra shifts and work overtime. But also, get familiar with the idea of remote work. Sites like RemoteOK and WeWorkRemotely post a wide array of location-independent jobs.
Step two: Scout the travel deals
Once your travel account is looking plush, it's time to book your trip. There are a lot of good deals out there — if you know where to look.
If you have the time and you're staying domestic, utilize the bus or train. Take in the scenery of the country on the way to your destination. Simple options like Greyhound, Bolt Bus, and Megabus connect many major cities, and they're often cheaper than flying. It'll take longer, but use that time to fully disconnect from the day-to-day hustle that had you craving this getaway in the first place.
If you do choose to fly, you should try to get the best deal possible on your tickets. There are a few sites that can help: Bookmark and follow The Flight Deal, Airfare Spot, and Airfare Watchdog. These sites deliver nothing but sales for flights across the globe. Making these sites a part of your daily digest will guarantee that you come across a well-priced ticket to one of the places on your bucket list. If you really want to get creative, you can link the feed from any of these sites and tie them into an IFTTT code specialized to send you text messages, so you don't miss that ideal discount.
Got a specific destination in mind? Make Sky Scanner another regular part of your travel tool kit. Sky Scanner is a travel search engine that analyzes your target location and time frame and shows you all the possible flight options. You can adjust the results by cost, length of trip, connections, and more. Or, if you're feeling particularly adventuresome, you can simply plug in dates with no set place and Sky Scanner will run down the cost of all locales within that time period.
After you've found an itinerary and flights that work for you, the only thing left is for you to schedule your lodging and daily activities. It may not be so simple to just do what's cheapest here. Traveling is an individual experience; while couch surfing and hostels are less costly lodging options, balance that against your own comfort level. One way to curb your spending is to research your travel spot for local activity options, as opposed to the more pricey tours. When it's possible and safe, ask the locals for their recommendations. Use public transportation or walk. Above all, make sure you enjoy yourself.