Travel Hacks

8 Ways To Make Travel Affordable

Jenna Schwerzmann
January 16, 2024

Traveling is expensive, we know. If it weren’t, everyone would be doing it! 

But, there ARE ways to make it a little more achievable. 

It breaks my heart every time I hear another millennial say, 

“I would love to travel more if I could afford it.”  

Many of us give up on the idea before we’ve even really looked into it. As someone who has tried to travel as much as possible in college and in my twenties, I’m here to share some of the ways I have afforded several trips abroad! *Results may vary*

1. Save your cash

Okay, we all know how hard it can be to save, but there are some fun ways of doing it. 

After college, I worked as a barista and server, so I was mostly paid in tips. I decided that I would start setting aside all my $5 bills. This quickly led to a few hundred dollars in savings, enough for a round trip flight!  

The lesson here is to get creative. 

2. Use a savings app

If the thought of hoarding five dollar bills doesn’t jive with your spending habits, a savings app might be for you.  

For a while, I used a free one that saved a chunk of money every time I made a deposit to my bank account. It varied depending on the amount that was deposited.  

This was successful for me because I didn’t have to think about it. Even while I was in school full-time and only working part-time, this app saved about $500 for me in six months, and was virtually zero effort on my part! 

This app isn’t free anymore, so I not going to say names...but look into some on the App store. Also, many banks offer the same service for free! 

3. Earn miles

I didn’t have a credit card until I was almost 24. Until then, I used my debit card and cash for everything.  

Then I realized it might be a good time to start establishing some credit. I got the Discover It Miles card, which I LOVE! 

I started putting all my expenses on it and paying it off each month to avoid interest. The card has great perks, and your miles can be used for all kinds of travel expenses. That means any airline, trains, subways, ferries, hotels, even your Uber and Lyft rides can be free with miles.  

I always recommend this card to people. I’ve had the card about two years now and have redeemed three round-trip flights so far, but of course that varies with how much you spend and how much your flights cost. Luckily for me, I was able to put some of my school payments on this card, which really upped my mileage-earning.

‍The flight that led to this photo was paid for completely with miles!

4. Travel for school

Speaking of school...can you earn credits while abroad? Will those credits be covered by financial aid? Then, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! 

Study abroad programs, even short-term ones on winter or summer breaks, can be much more expensive than your average traveling because of the added cost for college credit. However, if you have some sort of financial aid plan that wouldn’t buckle with the added cost, why not go for it?!  

What a lot of people don’t realize, is that the cost might be very similar to what you’d pay for going to class on your home campus, or maybe slightly above. Don’t write off this possibility until you’ve crunched the numbers!

‍Believe it or not, this underwater selfie was during my coral reef ecology class over winter break

5. Volunteer abroad

There are tons of programs out there that have reduced costs because you are giving your time for a cause. 

I have friends that afforded travel by teaching English abroad, volunteering on a farm or working as a research assistant in exchange for free food and housing. There are lots of ways to do it.  

Also - consider fundraising if it’s appropriate for the trip!

6. Visit far-away friends and family 

Do you know someone who is studying abroad already, or have a distant aunt that you’d like to reconnect with? See if you can crash with them! 

When I went to visit family in Denmark for a week, I didn’t pay for a thing (after airfare) since they were always feeding me and taking me places. Even if you don’t have family abroad, maybe one of your close friends does - you might not even realize it, yet!  And even if you don’t, you could always look into Couchsurfing.  

7. Go for a cheaper country 

Some are simply more affordable than others.  

I remember my sister telling me once that she was staying in really nice place in Thailand for next to nothing. Go off the beaten path and see that you may be able to afford a week in one country much more so than one of the more touristy locations!

8. Travel on a shoe-string budget

Finally, with a bit of discipline, you can budget for your trip while you’re there.  

Stay in hostels, walk or use public transportation over taxis, cook instead of eating out, and look for free attractions and special rates (i.e., many museums will have discounts on certain days and at certain times).  

I recently went to Spain with seven of my friends - we rented a loft on Airbnb, which split eight ways was only $15 a night for each of us. Seriously! That’s even cheaper than many hostels I’ve stayed in.  

Pro tip: look for a place that has a kitchen. Going to grocery stores in other countries is an adventure in itself! Do your research and you may find that travel is more affordable than you once thought.

Renting a bike to a get to a Dutch grocery store - so much fun!

Different people have different traveling styles and preferences, so hopefully one of these techniques will work for you.

When all is said and done and you’ve spent all your savings, at least you leave feeling like it was worth every penny!

Jenna Schwerzmann
Jenna recently finished her master’s degree in marine conservation and is searching for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she likes to do yoga, drink coffee, play with pups, spend time outside, and hang out with family and friends.


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