Have you ever wondered how all of your Instagram friends seem to be traveling around the world while you’re sitting on your couch wondering when you should get out of your pajamas?
It’s ok if that’s you, because it’s been me too! Towards the end of 2017, I decided that 2018 was going to be my year of adventure. My year of growth, knowledge and travel. And it was. In 2018, I traveled to 10 different countries and made so many memories that even Instagram pictures can’t capture. “But traveling is not cheap,” you say. Correct - but it doesn’t have to be overly expensive either!
I wanted to share some things I learned this past year about traveling on a budget, so maybe your trendy travel photos will be the next ones I see when I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed!
1. Plan in advance
You may be thinking: “Duh, Sydney, of course you have to plan in advance!” And you’d be right, but it’s a good reminder. Do you want 2019 to be your year to travel? Start planning now! It’s so easy to let the weeks and months slip away from us, getting caught up in work and other commitments, without making plans to take some time to travel. Do you want to travel by yourself? In a group? With new people? You can even work in a hostel overseas to make money and have somewhere to stay. The world is full of opportunities and experiences; you just have to take the next step.
2. Travel during off-peak season
Traveling during an off-peak season opens so many doors. Tickets are cheaper, accommodations are cheaper, tourists aren’t crowding the streets and you have more of an opportunity to see what you want to see!
3. Cook your own meals
Cooking and preparing your own meals saves so much money. And it doesn’t have to just be PB&Js! Depending on where you go while you’re traveling, there may be local markets and street vendors that sell food you can buy for cheap and take back to your hostel or Airbnb for lunch and dinner. Packing protein bars is a great idea for meal replacement or snacks too. You’re going to need lots of energy to make the most out of your trip!
Don’t pay hundreds of dollars a night to stay in a hotel. Hostels and Airbnbs are much more reasonably priced! Just keep in mind that if you stay in a hostel, you’ll be staying with people you don’t know. (But hey, staying in hostels can mean new friends and travel buddies!) If you stay in an Airbnb, you have the option of staying by yourself or with friends. Staying in an Airbnb can also offer the opportunity to see how people live where you’re traveling!
5. Travel light
This year was the first time I traveled with a backpack. Not gonna lie - I was terrified I wouldn’t have enough or that I would forget something. But I loved it! I traveled a lot on the weekends, so traveling with a backpack was perfect for me. If you’re scared of the idea of not being able to fit everything in a backpack, that’s so OK! Just pack a light suitcase so you don’t have to lug around your whole wardrobe. And remember: bring layers you can wear everyday over whatever shirts you pack! Who ever said comfy was a crime?
6. Do free stuff
Take advantage of free classes and events you may see on posters tacked on telephone poles around the city. In most places there are free museums or galleries, so take a look! You can spend weeks in some of the museums around the world! Having fun doesn’t have to mean spending money when it comes to traveling somewhere new.
7. Experience nature (for free)
News flash (if you didn’t already know): nature is free!!!! And it’s all around you! My favorite trips I’ve taken this year have to do with the landscape around me. We get so caught up in ‘doing’ things and ‘going, going, going’ that we forget the natural beauty of the region we’re in. Rent a car, split the cost with friends and get out of the city to experience the hills and valleys around you. You may discover a new appreciation for the simple and naturally beautiful.
8. Walk everywhere you can
Walking is the best way to see everything and take it all in - not to mention a great way to exercise while you’re vacationing! Walk in the touristy places for sure, but also in the places tourists skip over. You may just meet some interesting people who teach you more about the world around you!
9. Ditch the souvenirs
… Especially if you’re traveling light. I can’t tell you the amount of times I bought a souvenir from a place I visited and then just placed it in a box, never to use it again. Instead of spending your time (and money) picking out a souvenir, take pictures of who and what is around you! Trust me: your memories and pictures will be worth more than the crystalline rock you bought in the cave gift shop you visited. Like my mom always taught me, “If it starts with a j and ends with k, it’s junk!”
10. The best places to visit on a budget in 2019:
And finally, number 10! After researching several websites, here’s a list of the best places (internationally and nationally) to travel to on a budget in 2019!
● Merida, Mexico
● Xi’an, China
● Tbilisi, Georgia
● Atlanta, GA
● New Orleans, LA
● Chicago, Illinois
● Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I hope that after reading this you realize that traveling on a budget is, firstly, possible, and secondly, FUN! Don’t let money stop you from living your dreams and seeing places you’ve never seen before!
See below for a list of my favorite places I traveled to in 2018!