While many of us dream of traveling the world (or at least to a destination somewhere around the world), it’s not always cheap. For those with the best of intentions, a lot of things can get in the way. Even though I travel long-term and have taken round-the-world trips, I know many people who wish to enjoy this type of travel. If I don’t find you backpacking through Nepal for three months or walking through the Amazon rainforest, there are many ways for you to get on the road and see the world on a budget, so here are my 5 cheap ideas if you are cash-strapped.
Travel Idea 1: Travel Domestically
Travel brings to mind faraway and exotic destinations, but it doesn’t always involve images of all the places we’ve seen in TV shows and movies. Because of that, few people look in their own backyard for adventure, yet it offers just as many places for you to sightsee.
I say the same thing to my friends. Since I grew up near Belfast, I could visit the city of Manchester, the woods in Edinburgh, the bed-and-breakfasts of Yorkshire, or the countryside near Glasgow. London is a car ride from there too. How often would we travel like that? Not often enough!
Exploring your own region is an underrated and often overlooked aspect of travel. It gets the occasional mention in magazines, but driving across the country made me realize how much our own country have to offer us and how often we overlook that for some foreign places.
You don’t have to fly across an ocean to explore the world. Head to the bookstore, buy a regional guidebook, and see what there is to see in your area. Your backyard holds as many possible travel destinations as any country in the world.
Travel Idea 2: Go Camping
The great outdoors present a great chance to go somewhere on the cheap. Camping, after all, costs very little money. Camping fees, if any, are cheaper than a stay at a hotel per night. In many places in Europe, you can camp on public land for free. You can go camping and pack all your own supplies, so you don’t have to worry about spending extra money. Your food bill can be whatever you spend on groceries and nothing else.
You don’t need to love camping either. Personally, I’m not an outdoor person. I usually need my privacy, including a toilet, bed, and hot water. If you’re like me, some public parks provide cabins. While hiking in the Grand Canyon, I stayed at a national park lodge at the bottom. I had a room for a few nights, yet it was cheap and accommodating. There’s almost always a park nearby with these rooms available. Along this, a website called Campspace lets people camp in someone’s backyard or garden. If you have a car, van, or RV that needs parking, you can find cheap parking and overnight solutions. Spending a few days with nature is not only good for your wallet but also good for your heart!
Travel Idea 3: Become a Local
Accommodation can eat into your costs of your dream trip. Even if you can find it cheaply, accommodation might up the cost of your trip into being unaffordable. A way around this is to stay somewhere for free. For shorter stays, Couchsurfing would be ideal. To go on holiday for two weeks without annoying your host, a unique way to overcome this is to house-sit for someone while they are on vacation. You get free accommodation, a kitchen to cook in, and the chance to explore a destination as a local. It’s a pretty unique way to travel and one that many world travelers take advantage of doing. You can even do this in your own region too, to cut down on transportation costs.
Travel Idea 4: Book at Last-Minute or Book Far in Advance
Cruises, flights, and tours that are normally very expensive can be less if you’re one of the last passengers. Some cruise lines and flights always offer incredible last-minute deals. The agencies never want to leave empty-handed. If you wait, you can find some really amazing deals as they scramble to find passengers and might always throw in some on-board amenities, free upgrades, and cash vouchers to sweeten the deal.
Conversely, if you book over a year in advance, they might also offer amazing low fares for early birds. If you’re part of a big group, I recommend visiting a travel agent, because they usually have wonderful working relationships with the operators and can score better packages than booking online. After you book, keep an eye out on prices, because if they drop, you can often call your travel agent or the company itself to get a partial refund and vouchers to use for dining or discounts on other excursions.
Nowadays, you don’t even have to guess where to catch the cheapest flight. You can look up a whole list of flights using a site like Momondo or Google Flights. With those sites you can type in the closest airport to you for your departure city and your destination. Then a list of the cheapest flights appears in front of your eyes, so you can choose where to go within your budget. This is how I decide where to go when I need to plan a holiday. It’s a great way to travel on a budget!
Travel Idea 5: Walk Off The Beaten Track
Skip Paris and forget Italy — Go to Argentina and see Montreal! Travel against the prevailing trend and see the world on a budget. If people are going in the summer, go during the spring or autumn. Skip the popular destinations and head off to the beaten track. Flights to America in the summer can be expensive, but about half that in the winter. It might not be the most ideal time to go or your favorite destination, but thinking of unusual places to go and visiting in the off-season will save you a lot of money.
With these ideas, everyone can jump overseas at the drop of a hat for a small holiday or spend months backpacking around Europe. A fancy vacation may be out of your reach, but while you might not have a lot of time or money, there’s more than one way to see the world. These budget ideas may be exactly what you need!
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