Over the years I’ve had the privilege of traveling all around the world. While that may sound posh or even luxurious, I can say that my experiences are far from it. In fact, some of my best times traveling were when I spent the least. I know to some that doesn’t sound realistic, but believe it or not, you can see the world on a shoestring budget. Here’s how:
1. Book your flight months ahead.
This is a classic piece of travel advice, but also one of the most important that you could follow. According to Skyscanner, some of the cheapest months to book vacations are in November and May (during offseasons). Additionally, the earlier you book, the cheaper the flight will be. While it might seem like a lot of commitment to book this far ahead, the benefits it will serve in the long run will be tenfold (plus, you’ll have something to look forward to).
2. Look out for package deals.
Package deals can be a great way to save money on a trip. Generally speaking, the reason why these deals exist is that they’re trying to sell a less popular item coupled with a very popular item. For this reason, I’ll say that you should do an extensive amount of homework before committing. But the value of finding a good one could be tremendous.
3. Go for transitional periods.
If you’re looking to travel to a specific spot, then transitional periods can be one of your best bets. Especially when it comes to places such as the beach or ski resorts, going in a period in-between seasons could save you big time. Not only will the weather still be enjoyable, but you could potentially avoid being around a huge group of other travelers. Additionally, as the overall rates are dropping for bookings, expect businesses and venues around the area to drop their prices too.
4. Learn to cook on the road.
Perhaps one of the biggest ways you’ll save (with or without traveling) is by cooking for yourself. It goes without saying that going out to eat is one of the quickest ways for a travel budget to evaporate, so cooking on the road is imperative. This will not only be a great skill to have for life (especially when it comes to buying groceries and preparing them efficiently), but it will make the times you do go out in your travels much more enjoyable.
5. Turn it into a work holiday.
Even if you’re not willing to shell out your paid time off quite yet, there’s still some alternatives for how you can use your work to travel. Consider convincing your boss to let you go to a conference (such as SXSW) or meeting abroad. While it will take a lot of legwork, the effort could give you that perfect break you needed.
6. Aim to work remotely.
If you don’t think your work will let you do it, then consider possibly finding a remote job. Depending on what else you have going on outside of work, this opportunity could be one of the best experiences of your life. Additionally, there’s a lot of great programs out there to help you do it, such as Remote Year.
7. The more, the merrier.
An excellent way to save money is by having other people come along for the ride. While this largely depends on who you feel comfortable traveling with (as well as for how long), consider bringing a group together to cut costs down.
8. Barter your way up.
Although it might sound silly, trading with other travelers can be a great way to save money. You never know who might be willing to host you in exchange for you doing the same. Additionally, certain things can go far on the road, so don’t discount what you and others find valuable.
9. Avoid tourist traps.
I’m not saying don’t visit popular attractions, but it’s important to note that when you’re traveling, there’s entire marketing schemes and ploys out there to get you to shell out that extra money. Plain and simple -- go to see what you wanted to see, and that’s it. Don’t get suckered into the excess “just because you’re on vacation.”
10. Focus on what’s free.
The world is filled with things you can do that are 100 percent free. If you work from there and establish your upfront costs as to what you find valuable, you can not only travel for a long time but see some of the most incredible sights you’d ever imagine. I know it’s cliche to say “the best things in life are free,” but in this case, it's true.