FAQ: How can you afford to travel so much?
Is the ability to travel a status symbol? To some, hopping on a plane headed to remote corners of the globe only happens in the movies. Globetrotting is often mistaken as a pastime reserved for wealthy businessmen sipping champagne on a first class flight headed to Dubai. Or anyone else who doesn’t seem to have the word “budget” in their vocabulary. That’s probably why some of you are under the assumption that I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth.
But the reality is quite the opposite.
In fact, I’ve got a million side hustles going to fund my insatiable thirst for travel. I simply choose not to spend all of my earnings all at one go.
I figured I would share my top budget-friendly travel tips since majority of you guys are 1. college kids, just like me and 2. pretty damn broke. As much as I enjoy knowing that some of you live vicariously through me, ultimately the purpose of this tiny corner of the internet (or rather, blog) is to inspire you to embark on your own adventures.
(More on my purpose in this blog post from Japan: Rise and Shrine)
Without further ado, below are my best tips for the broke college kid who just wants to see the world!
1. Register for flight alerts
Flights alerts are among the few email notifications you actually want to receive. I sift through flights on FlightHub or SkyScanner, and when the prompt asks for my email address, I happily enter mine in.
A really cool app I use is Skiplagged, which shows you a timeline of when airfares are expected to rise and dip. If you’re feeling spontaneous, it displays ongoing airline sales right on the home page of the app!
2. Use the “Hidden Layover” method
If you need to get from Point A to Point B, book a cheaper flight going from Point A to Point C with a layover in Point B instead! All you have to do is “miss” your connecting flight. Websites like CleverLayover can help you find flights with all sorts of possible layovers, and even help you find an extended layover so you can spend a week somewhere else!
Fair warning: If you have luggage checked in, this could pose a problem. Also, do this at your own risk!!!
3. Stay in hostels
Not only are they super affordable to stay in, but you meet a ton of fellow backpackers from all over the world, too! The receptionists are typically quite helpful when it comes to giving guidelines on what to do, see, eat, and how to get around in your current city.
4. Don’t overlook overland means of transport
Generally speaking, intercity buses and trains are a viable option when it comes to traveling on a budget. These days, they do have procedures set up like bag checks and body scans to ensure security while traveling, too. Don’t automatically assume that you need to compromise your safety to save a few bucks on transportation. (In fact, I don’t even think about my budget in situations I feel unsafe!)
On the flip side, don’t always assume that buses and trains are automatically cheaper than air travel. You’d be surprised.
To summarize this point, just make sure you’re aware of all your options before making a decision. A simple Google search could save you tons of ca$h.
5. Ask about student discounts
The thing about being in university is that many people – especially alumni – sympathize with you. And rightly so since they’ve lived through the horrors of 8 am lectures themselves. You’ve got three research papers, four exams, and a final project worth 90% of your grade due all in one week. On top of all of that, you might be wallowing in student debt. Which is why you should always ask for student discounts, everywhere you go (even when you’re not traveling!)
6. Go grocery shopping
Visit farmer’s markets when you’re traveling because 1. they provide healthier options that keep you feeling fresh on-the-go, and 2. supporting local businesses creates a win-win situation for everyone. Besides, having meals al fresco as you take in your new surroundings makes you that much more appreciative of the present moment, which is really what traveling is all about.
And remember …
You don’t always have to stick to your budget.
If you’re ever feeling unsafe, especially at night, forget about the budget and shell out more for a cab rather than public transport when heading back to your hostel.
If you have a particular item on your bucket list that you just need to cross off, ditch the budget and do the damn thing. Go skydiving! Or scuba diving! Or bungee jumping! Whatever. As cliche as it sounds, you only live once, and these types of experiences are few and far between. Not to mention priceless.
P.S. – This FAQ is featured in my newly updated About page. Make sure to check it out to see what other FAQ’s I’ve answered!