Arguably, he most daunting part of traveling is the cost. For many of us, it feels like an impossible obstacle to overcome in an effort to fulfill our wanderlust. I know for me, travel always felt like a dream I would never be able to achieve. For example, visiting Scotland has been a lifelong goal of mine, one I always assumed was unrealistic. However, thanks to advice I received from experienced travelers last summer, I was able to recently book a trip to Edinburgh for a total of 740 USD. Yes, $740 total, including transportation, hostels, and tours. All I have left to pay for is food and any spontaneous adventures I may embark on.
In what I have found to be my lifelong effort to help people experience the world, I am eager to pass this ability along to you. Below, you will find a combination of travel resources that allow you to find amazing deals and advice that will help you understand the possibilities that lie ahead of you. I hope you are able to use them to your advantage.
1. Skyscanner.com is your best friend.
Skyscanner is a great tool that searches hundreds of travel sites. I haven’t found a site that finds prices cheaper than Skyscanner. What I like most about this site is their search everywhere tool. Using this tool has opened up to visiting places I hadn’t initially considered. I visited Romania last summer and fell in love with the country!
2. Be flexible.
You can also search entire months on Skyscanner. The site will show you prices for each day. To utilize these great features, flexibility is essential. Being open with date and location can take you on an unexpected adventure and save you hundreds of dollars.
For me, flexibility of location has been the biggest difference. I am a person who wants to see the world. My feet want to walk the lands of every nation. So when it comes time to find a new place to go, I do not restrict myself. Instead, I let my wallet decide. I use the everywhere tool mentioned above and go wherever sounds the most interesting and is the most affordable. If this isn’t so much your style, then being flexible with time of year may be more helpful.
3. Travel in the off-season.
I took my last trip as summer tourist season was picking up. I booked my current trip during January, which is not a heavy tourist season in the United Kingdom. With the holidays over and the cold weather peaking, cheap tickets were easy to find. I’m excited to experience winter in Scotland — and so is my pocket!
4. Stay in hostels.
Staying in hostels rather than hotels can save you hundreds. For an entire week in Scotland, I paid $75, total. You might be able to spend one night in a sketchy hotel for that price. For a lot of people, the thought of staying in a room with strangers can seem nerve-wracking; but it’s a lot safer than you might think. Most hostels have lockers in which you can keep your valuables and 24-hour security. I also recommend staying in larger dorms. They are cheaper, safer, and provide more opportunity for meeting fellow travelers. If safety is still a concern, many hostels have female only dorms and extensive online reviews and safety ratings. I recommend checking out hostelworld.com for your next trip.
5. Pack light.
It is easy to find no-frills flights for highly discounted prices. I was able to fly from Warsaw to Prague for $10 and from London to Edinburgh for $13. However, with these no-frills flights, your allowable baggage is limited. You can check out my advice for traveling with a single bag here.
6. Spend a lot of time shopping around.
When I say a lot, I mean a lot. I probably spend two to three hours a week playing around on these websites. Most days, I don’t find practical trips; but every so often, I find my dream adventure for cheap. Planning trips I will never go on has become my favorite past time; and because I am looking so frequently, I have been able to develop a working understanding of price trends. This, partnered with location specific research, has allowed me to find incredible adventures at costs that easily fit into my budget.
7. Remember that adventure doesn’t have to be perfect.
We often carry the misconception that our trips have to be extravagant to be glorious. However, we often forget that an imperfect trip is better than no trip at all. I would much rather slum it in a hostel, make my feet sore with walking, and eat street food in a new place than sit around my house for years dreaming of five star hotels and private tours. Because of this mindset, I’ve seen so much more of the world than I had ever expected.
It is important to remember that there is no one right way to travel. The tips I’ve listed above are what works for me. I have found enough thorough exploration, flexibility, and the right tools, it’s been easy for me to book adventures. However, I am in my 20s and have far too much free time. Being able to travel is really all about finding what works for you. I have many friends and family members who need much more structure than I, and have enjoyed taking pre-planned trips or studying abroad. I have others who are particular about where and when they like to go. This is all perfectly okay. Just remember: that if you want to travel, you can. If you are determined enough, cost does not have to be an obstacle.