Before I die, my goal is to travel the world not just as a tourist, but as a local. I long to taste the spices of India, salsa the under the moonlight in Cuba, go deep sea diving in Australia, and walk the great wall of China. What makes the United States so special is not the fact that we have the strongest military in world, but simply because we are the only country with no real national or cultural identity. A US citizen color palette, culture, religion, and identity varies tremendously. I was raised in New York City and grew up around people who’s families come from all sorts of different backgrounds. My dream to travel the world is an attempt to attain a different set of experiences, but my budget only permits me to go so far. So, I had to figure out a way to make my trip as affordable as possible. Here are a few examples of how I managed to stay within budget.
Plane Tickets: A plane ticket can be the most costly expense while traveling, which is why I needed to figure out a way to bi-pass depleting my entire budget. Here are a few ways you can try to keep your costs down.
- Google Flights/Orbit/Priceline: I love these websites, because they price compare all of the airlines flying out of your area to your desired destination! Comparing airline prices is always a great first step!
- Flyer Miles: It takes some people years to save up enough flyer miles for free roundtrip tickets, but when you sign up for credit cards like “American Airlines” or “United”, you can earn up to 50,000 miles. Those deals are often seasonal, so you have to make sure to keep an eye out! This is the method I used to get my free flights to and from Spain!
- Phone a friend: Often times we have friends that work for airlines and don’t even think to ask them for complimentary tickets. International flights are more likely to have empty seats than domestic flights, so phoning in a favor from your roommate in college who is now a flight attendant is a great way to get free plane tickets! Any employee who works for an airline is able to share their benefits with family and friends!
- Emergency Employees: Look at possibly taking advantage of the on-call employment at international airlines (employees only called into work for emergencies)! There are a maximum number of days you can get called in a month (5-7), and you get all the perks of being a regular employee, AKA FREE FLIGHTS!
Staying with friends: The reason why I chose Spain as my first stop, was because I had a close family friend residing in Madrid. I was able to stay with them for the entire duration of my trip! Before making the decision to go on a trip abroad, think about where you might have friends and see if they can put you up! Most people are afraid to ask a favor like this but often times the fear of feeling burdensome is ALL in our heads; what’s the worst that can happen?
Hostels: So your friend says no, or you just don’t know anyone who lives abroad! That is okay, because not only are Hostels cheap, but they are a great place to make new friends who are also traveling alone. The Hostel I stayed at in Barcelona was great because they set up fun activities like Bar Crawls that forced you to socialize with other travelers! No one is weird or creepy, just young and broke; plus you hear some pretty awesome stories!
Food: When I was in Spain, I actually found myself eating less than I would if I were in the US. The best advice I can provide for food is to go to the grocery store, get cereal because breakfast is not some big adventure, also get snacks and lots of water. Water is filtered differently in certain countries and I would highly advise to check online to see if the water is safe to drink! The first couple days I was in Spain I found myself living in the bathroom (you can fill in the blank). Dinner is normally the biggest meal and comes with ALOT of courses, so two meals per day will hold you! Use YELP or TRIP ADVISOR to figure out what you can afford and what is good! Customer review sites are so helpful when traveling!
Public Transportation: You CANNOT be afraid to take the bus or train when you are traveling on a budget! Believe or not public transportation is also a lot cleaner in European countries than the US. The train is also where I met some of my closest friends, who spoke english and decided to help what looked like a deer in headlights. It wasn’t until the last day that I figured out google maps did a great job navigating public transportation in every country I was able to visit. Being in Spain not speaking Spanish only made it twice as hard to get around, but it was all an adventure and I made the most of it.
Currency Exchange: Right now the gap between EU and the dollar is tightening so it is the perfect time to go! One USD equals .89 EU, which means there is only an 11 cents difference with every dollar you spend! The best advice I can give you is to exchange your money at the airport and save ALL of your receipts! Why should you save your receipts, you ask? Well, at the airport the country you visit reimburses you for anything you were taxed on since you are not a citizen, because you are not obliged to pay their taxes.
Lastly, make sure you take LOTS of pictures to share those precious moments with friends and family! Please let me know how you like my tips and I will try to make more. COMMENT. LIKE. SHARE