Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Monday, December 15, 2014

6 Ways This American Travels Without Spending A Lot of Money

Throwback to Czech Republic in 2010
I've been asked how I am able to travel so frequently. I do not make a lot of money, but I take at least 1 trip per month. I have had some trips that were outrageously expensive, and some that were so cheap it seems unreal. This post is about the latter, and what I do to make it happen.

Obviously, the cheaper trips I have taken have been to countries with lower costs of living, so that helps, but also having a frugal mindset discourages frivolous spending, without diminishing the fun of the trip. The main key is to make a travel budget. I decide how much money I am willing to spend while on vacation, and I stick to it. This is easier said than done, so here are some tricks on how I do it. Here are 6 ways this American travels without spending a lot of money.

1. Track my spending

This is just a good habit in general. I track my spending while I travel, so I realize how much I am spending, and then can adjust my spending to fit within the travel budget I've created. The more I do this, the better I am able to budget future trips.

2. Go where the deals are

Any travel website will show what deals are out there. Even if I have never heard of a place, it might be worth visiting. Ljubljana, Slovenia had a deal on WizzAir for 33€ and I went there just because it was cheap to get there. Turns out that is was a fantastic country and I had a blast there.

3. Only leave the house with the amount of money I plan to spend

I can't spend money if I don't have it. I keep an emergency credit card, but as for the cash I have planned to spend, I take only that. To take it a step further, once I am on my trip, I only leave the hotel/hostel/couchsurfing location with the money I have planned for that day. That way, I won't spend my entire travel budget on one day of the trip.

4. Shopping at grocery stores instead of eating at restaurants

Food and drinks are one of the biggest expenses of any trip. Touristy restaurants overcharge better than they cook. Aside from trying the local delicacies, which are usually better at a small restaurant outside the tourist areas, grocery stores carry all the food that the locals eat and at a fraction the cost.

Buying snacks and water for day trips and excursions are also substantially cheaper in the stores than buying them in the souvenir shops.

5. Couchsurfing and hostels

When traveling, what better way to see a new place than with a local or a guide? Couchsurfing is free and hostels offer deals for pub crawls, nightlife, and excursions. Depending on where I am going, I can have some amazing experiences for a fraction of the cost of a hotel or package deal.

6. Get around efficiently

Instead of renting a car or taking a cab, I like walking, or buying a 48hr ticket for the city sightseeing bus and then using it as transportation; plus its a great way to meet other tourists and make new friends. If there's no tour bus, I'll take public transportation, but I know I'll be using it for a few days, so I'll buy a 4 day pass or some other discount pass. I avoid cabs like the plague, except in eastern Europe and when splitting with friends.

What do you think?

These methods work for me. What do you do to travel cheaply or inexpensively? 



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