So… You want to travel?

Over the past few months I’ve received numerous messages asking me how I am able to travel for most of the year, but the main question is: How can you afford to travel for most of the year?

There are many different ways that travelers accomplish staying on the road. Every story is different. How do I do it?  I work a lot and save a lot during the summer months. I also have a few other tricks when it comes to lodging and transportation to cut back on unnecessary expenses. Anyone can learn to be a savvy traveler, but you have to love it to make it worth it! Here is how I am able to finance long-term travel: 

WORK: I’m able to finance my travels by working (waitressing) seasonally at a restaurant on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. I also live with my parents during the summer, which cuts back on rent costs (thanks Mom and Dad!).  Since I’m working all the time, I don’t have a lot of opportunities to spend, which also helps when it comes to saving for travel! 

ACCOMMODATION: Lodging is often times the most expensive aspect involved in traveling. There are a number of ways to cut back on these costs, depending on the type of travel (or trip) you are interested in.

  • Workaway: is a website set up to help travelers and language learners find hosts around the world. In exchange for working alongside your hosts for a few hours a day, you receive room and board.  Not only is it a great opportunity for language immersion, it’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in a new culture! This was by far the most cost effective trick I used while traveling. I spent over six months abroad without spending a dime on rent!
  • Couchsurfing: is a network that allows travelers to stay on strangers couch free of charge. As a female I’m cautious when it comes to the hosts that I will stay with, but it is a fantastic way to see different cities
  • Budget Accommodation: I usually stay in budget hotels, hostels, or apartments… and I treat myself to a night somewhere a bit nicer every now and then. As a solo traveler, hostels are by far the most inexpensive option, but if you’re traveling with one or two other people hotels and apartments end up being about the same price.  I find most of my accommodation on Booking, HostelWorld, and AirBnB

TRANSPORTATION: If you can be flexible about when you come and go, finding inexpensive transportation is extremely doable! 

  • Booking Flights:  My favorite websites for booking flights are Skyscanner and Kayak. Always make sure to turn on “private browsing” when looking for flights, since it can help prevent prices from rising if you look often.  Check flights departing from airports near you (ex: instead of flying out of Minneapolis, I sometimes look at flights leaving from Chicago instead – I can take a puddle jumper to Chicago or a bus). If you are traveling in Europe, consider using budget airlines like RyanAir or EasyJet. Norwegian Airlines and WOW Air offer inexpensive flights between the USA and Europe. Flying to Central/South America is often less expensive via New York or Miami.
  • Trains:  In Europe tickets for travelers under 26 years old are discounted during certain hours. Make sure to look for those fares. Most countries offer discount cards if you are a frequent traveler. 
  • Buses:  Buses are one of the most cost friendly ways to get around. I took buses all over South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe… it might not be the most comfortable way of transport, but it’s gotten me from point A to point B for a quarter of the price on average.
  • Ride-sharing: Services that connect drivers with empty seats with passengers that need to get somewhere! It allows drivers/riders to split the cost of gas and tolls while on the road… it’s costs a fraction of what a lot of train rides can add up to. BlaBlaCar is one of the most reputable services.

FOOD:  Tasting different dishes is one of the most rewarding parts about traveling. I can’t say I’ve loved every dish I’ve tried, but it is an important part of the journey. Depending on where you are traveling, eating out can cost next to nothing or it can cost more than you have in your budget for a week worth of food. How do I avoid spending all my money out? Here are a few ways:       Staying with local hosts often times provides opportunity to try local dishes without eating out.

  • Staying with local hosts often times provides opportunities to try local dishes without eating out. Do this as much as you can. Not only is a home cooked meal nice when you're on the road, but you'll get the real deal with the locals! 
  • Keeping breakfast items, like granola bars or bread and peanut butter, with you is a major way to cut back on costs. A lot of hostels offer free breakfasts – take advantage of them! 
  • Take outings to local farmers markets and pick up a few fruits and vegetables for the week! Markets are fun, foods are fresh and they cost a fraction of what supermarkets might charge! 

Traveling and living abroad are very different from one another. While traveling you are constantly exposed to new people and places. When you live abroad you tend to make connections with a group of people and develop a “normal” life. If you are looking for options to move abroad for a year or so here are some choices to consider: 

  • Workaway
  • Woofing
  • AuPair Care
  • Teach English Abroad (You can become TEFL certified online. The certification typically costs a few hundred dollars, but you can also find it on Groupon if you check regularly… I bought mine for $29!) 

If you have any questions about deciding to take the plunge and booking a ticket, feel free to send me a message! 

And remember...

Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.
— Anthony Bourdain