Travel Hacks

How to Travel Without Going Totally Broke

Brooke Faulkner
January 16, 2024

Traveling the world is a lifelong ambition for many of us. Travel opens us up to new cultures and ways of life. It gives us knowledge of the world around us, inspires us, and provides the opportunity for adventure. It’s one of the best avenues to personal growth and lots of fun. The only real downside to travel is the expense. Savvy travelers keep their eyes on their budget and seek out clever ways to keep more of their money in pocket.  

Plan, Plan, Plan

Start with some of the smaller places. It might be your lifelong goal to stay at the vacation hut next to George Clooney’s on the North Island in Seychelles, but at $11,000 a night it might not be in the budget. Look for the bucket list destinations that are doable for a frugal and financially modest traveler. A big part of making your dream trip affordable is in the planning phase. You want to aim for a location with affordable lodging (more on that later) and with the option of doing things on your budget. Places that lock you into buying everything at their pricing (even food and drinks) might need to wait until you’re able to do a little more saving.

Some places just aren’t designed for cheap travel, but plenty of dream vacations are totally doable. Plan for things like traveling at off-peak times or taking red-eye flights. Planning in advance means you can frequently book things like airplane tickets and accommodations for less.  You can also do the research on some of the places you intend to visit. Are they tourist traps? Would you be better off going somewhere else? The planning process will help smooth out any potential bumps and help you have the experience you want.

Explore on Your Own Two Feet

Renting cars can be expensive — so can taxis, Ubers, and a lot of other methods of transportation. You know what’s free? Your feet. Travel to places where you can do most of your getting around by foot. Walking isn’t just a great source of exercise; it also gives you the chance to really see your surroundings and get the feel for a city. A lot of cities are perfect for pedestrians and make for wonderful walking vacations. Love all things French? Paris is heaven for exploring on foot. New York’s traffic situation is frustrating at best — and besides, you can’t explore Central Park by car. Alternatively, rent a bike or scooter, which is still more fun and interactive than being cooped up in the car.  

Credit Isn’t a Dirty Word

Oftentimes the most expensive part of your vacation is airfare. Looking for deals on airfare can take a massive bite out of your travel expenses. One of the tried-and-true methods for cheap flights is miles. It might sound like a tactic best suited to your parents but keeping a credit card for racking up miles can make the far corners of the earth a lot more accessible. A good travel credit card extends beyond airfare points: You can also get travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees, and other travel perks.  

Use Apps to Find a Place to Crash

The internet has brought us together in a million wonderful ways — a bunch of which can help out the wanderlust-stricken skint see the world. You used your miles to get airfare for next to cheap? Great! Now you need a place to stay. Free and cheap housing is available via apps like Couchsurfing and Airbnb. Hostels are often a great way to stay somewhere exotic for cheap. You can even use apps to sign up to house sit for someone in your travel destination. Most of these places come with usable kitchens, so you can shop locally and make your own authentic meals. You get the local experience while saving money.

After all, isn’t that the goal — to get out there, see the world, and have enough cash to pay rent once you make it back home?

Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer and mom in the Pacific Northwest. She loves exposing her children to new cultures and experiences and being able to make a living doing so! You can find her on twitter, @faulknercreek!


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