How to Travel the World on a Budget
No, seriously, get out: out of your house, out of your mentality, out of your comfort zone.
Go from “existing” to actually “living.”
There’s an entire world outside your window. Being exposed to different environments, languages, cultures, customs, and ethnicities is an unexplainable yet remarkable feeling.
Many people never visualize themselves traveling because they’re convinced traveling is too expensive. I completely understand. Trust me, I’m the most frugal, penny-pinching person you’ll meet. I swore off traveling the world until I “had a six-figure salary.” That hasn’t happened (yet). And quite frankly, I was tired of letting finances be the reason for me not to enjoy life. I discovered that you don’t have to be “rich” to experience the riches of the world. You just have to be wise in budgeting your expenses and strategic with your timing.
Last year, I took a leap of faith and moved from my small town in Virginia to a beautiful Caribbean Island called Puerto Rico. Since then, I’ve encountered dozens of travelers from all over the world who, ironically, work average jobs and make average incomes. They convinced me to become (even more) conscious about my savings and spending and to invest in exploring. So, I planned, saved, and went on my first trip (alone!) to another country: the Dominican Republic. It’s part of another island here in the Caribbean so it wasn’t too far for me, but definitely a wonderful experience.
And here’s the cool part, I was able to pay for everything out of pocket: flight, lodge, food, shopping, etc. And I didn’t break bank. How? Well, you already know I live the frugal life and budget. But I also did the research to find even more ways to save while traveling and still have unforgettable experiences! So let’s break this thing down:
- Credit card travel rewards (these offer mileage or cash-back rewards whenever you spend)
- Vouchers (volunteer to cancel your current flight trip for another date and you’ll receive a complimentary voucher equivalent to a roundtrip flight, depending on the airline)
- Hostels (basically low-cost, non-traditional hotels and Bed & Breakfast spots)
When planning my trip to the Dominican Republic, I found this wonderful hostel listed on the HostelWorld website. The Island Backpacker’s Life hostel had great ratings and a co-worker of mine actually stayed there a year prior while traveling. The owner, Chris, was so down-to-earth. He moved to the DR from England and renovated an old building into this beautiful gem. When I arrived, it looked exactly as the photos on the website. Amenities included WiFi, breakfast, game room, movie room, air conditioned bedrooms with comfy beds, the pool (obviously), and the coolest staff. Not too shabby for $18 per night!
- Air B’n’B (People from all over the world rent out their homes, bedrooms, studios, etc. and list them on here for pretty affordable prices, depending on the location. You can search and book them on this website)
- Nomador.com (international house-sitting)
- Couchsurfing (similar to Air B’n’B, except it’s completely free! The “payment” is spending time with your host and building a friendship. Many people are courteous and still pay or offer to buy groceries, run errands, etc. for the host)
Budgeting & Planning
- Find cheap Plane Tickets by checking dates that are off-season, non-weekend, and not during holidays. Also, don’t search on the airline’s website. Instead, use sites that compare prices, like CheapOair, Expedia, Travelocity, and even Google Flights
- You have to learn how to manage your finances to help you save a little each month to put towards a trip. I explain budgeting and more here.
Whew! A lot to take in but definitely worth it. I’m currently saving up for another trip in a couple of months, this time, somewhere in South America. I’ll probably try couch-surfing the next time around!