If you are an educated citizen (or at least a smart, open-minded person), above the poverty threshold, and living in a first world country, chances are you can travel internationally.
International travel is reserved for people with lots of disposable income, you say? Think again. What is stopping you from traveling isn’t a lack of monetary resources, but a lack of key knowledge, the necessary amount of fearlessness, and the belief that if there’s a will, there’s a way.
This list will hopefully chip away at the first and third problem. Fear, however, is a problem only you can solve.
Rent out your house/apartment/room on AirBNB for as much of your trip as you can.
If you have roommates then you will have to get their permission, but you can offer them a percentage of the income, at the very least to compensate them for meeting people to give them a key and for cleaning. If you live alone and have multiple bookings, ask a friend to do these things as a favor, or you can hire and train someone. It’s worth it, because if you live in a city, then it’s likely that the money you make will pay for your rent/bills and then some. This way you won’t have to save as much, and you can take unpaid time off if you don’t have enough vacation time saved up and your boss doesn’t mind.
Doing this will make it so that the only costs you need to worry about is what you spend abroad, and sometimes your trip can even pay for itself.
If you’re anxious about people canceling and losing the income you are depending on, don’t be, because you can make use of AirBNB’s Super Strict cancellation policy: “For a 50% refund, cancellation must be made 30 full days prior to listing’s local check in time (or 3:00 PM if not specified) on the day of check in. If the guest cancels less than 30 days in advance, the nights not spent are not refunded.”
If you don’t like the idea of renting out your space, then you don’t want to travel badly enough.
Buy your plane ticket some months in advance.
Doing this will allow you to effectively pay for your trip in installments. Now you’ll have some months to save for your food, accommodation, transportation, extra fees, and entertainment. And these things can be incredibly cheap, if not free (see 4 & 5).
Cut down on expenses in order to save prior to your trip.
Let’s look at a typical week for many Americans:
Monday: $4 coffee at a cafe
Tuesday: $10 eating out
Wednesday: go to the store, buy $10 deodorant instead of $3 one because you think it’s fancier
Thursday: $10 movie theater ticket price
Friday: $30 spent on a night out drinking
Let me ask you one question: how much do you want to travel? Really badly? I figured; life is short. You need to start reflecting that desire in your daily choices though. On Monday, you make your own coffee. On Tuesday, you cook your own meal. Wednesday, buy that $3 deodorant. Thursday, wait until the movie goes out on dvd and then stream in online for free (I never told you this though). Friday, throw a BOB party in your apartment or at a friend’s house. Total money saved: $61. In 5 days, you saved enough for 3-4 days in Thailand (see below).
Travel to Southeast Asia.
You can eat meals for as cheap as $1, ride in a tuk-tuk across town for ~$3, and accommodation is also quite cheap, with some hostels offering beds for as little as $10/night. You can still enjoy yourself, with plenty of natural, beautiful scenery that is free to experience, such as the beaches and unique geology found in southern Thailand. You can even go out without much worry, with cocktails sold for as little as $3-4.
Siem Reap in Cambodia is a must see, with it’s famed ancient ruins and the iconic, massive trees overtaking them. A taxi from the airport to the city center, for example, is only $7, and though there is a $20 entry fee into Ankor Wat, you can rent a bike for $1 for 24 hours so you don’t have to pay the $15/day tuk-tuk fee. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Oh, and it’s really fun to ride the mopeds in Southeast Asia, for only $5-6/24 hours.
To explore prices of world travel, you can visit this website, which lists up to date prices for various travel costs.
For the more adventurous, try couch surfing.
Since it’s launch in 2003, couchsurfing.com has grown to over 7 million active users in countries all over the world. You can browse profiles and choose people to contact for your requested dates, and the accommodation they offer you is completely free. Sometimes you’re stuck with a couch, but other times you can luck out with your own private room.
- It’s free
- You meet and befriend locals
- They introduce you to the city from an insider’s perspective
- Safety concerns
- You are obligated to spend time with your host
- Sometimes you have to sleep on a couch
For the safety concerns, there are ways to make couch surfing very safe: choose profiles with many positive reviews and if you’re a girl, your best bet is to stay with female hosts. And the second downside isn’t a downside if you are in the mood for that social interaction. So all told, couch surfing is a great resource to at least taper your trip with, to save money and to see the place you’re visiting from an insider’s perspective.
Two words: Wow Air.
Wow Air is a new Icelandic airline, subsidized by their government as an incentive to attract more tourists. There’s a ticket from Los Angeles to Paris for as cheap as $200. The dates for these prices are limited and you have to be careful with their extra fees, but if you plan it right, this is an incredible opportunity to save money on the largest travel expense: plane tickets. You have to stop over in Iceland, but who cares? Iceland is beautiful, and you’re going to Paris!
Take up a part-time online job.
These days there are many ways to make money online, so you can continue your income stream as you travel. If you have already grown your online money making career as a blogger or with an online business, then great. If not, then one easy possibility, if you went to college, is to become an online tutor. Instaedu pays $20/hour and they hire pretty much everyone. Another possibility is to create a passive income stream by self-publishing an ebook . Pretty much everyone who is a least a decent writer has a shot of making a good amount of monthly income this way, if they choose a good niche and do some research on how to go about it effectively.
“But I want to go to Europe.”
Cook most of your meals in hostels, opt for buses, couch surf half of the time. It’s possible. Europe is the most expensive continent to travel, but there are ways to get around this. Trains are fast and pleasant, but train tickets can add up. Often times if you plan in advance, you can find plane tickets with budget airlines across the continent for as little as $30. If you’re on a serious budget, you won’t be able to eat every meal at a restaurant and you might struggle to see all of the museums, but it’s still possible to survive on $10-20/day.
I have a friend who paid only $1 to transport a car from Italy to England. On the way to England, he went to Austria and Germany. This is a great option if you want to see more than just a few cities on a budget.
It’s also worth noting that eastern Europe is vastly cheaper than western Europe. A beer in Prague, for example, can be as cheap as $1. Europe is economically diverse, and as a traveler on a budget, it’s a good idea to make the most of this and avoid cities like London, Zurich, and Copenhagen.
“I am barely getting by, steeped in student loan or other debt.”
If you are surviving where you are, you can survive at a different location.
Once again, save up your paid vacation time and rent out your space on AirBNB while you are gone. That way, the extra money you need to travel comes from the money you make from renting out your space while you’re gone.
If you’re jobless, stay in a monastery, sign up for WOOF, become an aupair, or work for a hostel. All of these things provide you free room and board.
Realize that traveling isn’t generally as expensive and scary as you think.
You can often end up spending less while traveling than you would at home, if you travel between leases and are able to cancel your phone contract. So you’re not spending money on rent, bills, and your otherwise relatively high standard of living. If you want to travel, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. You have to want to experience other countries and cultures badly enough to be willing to forgo the many comforts of our first world lifestyles.
In terms of the fear you have, in order to travel you need to realize two things: (1) you don’t always need to feel in control of everything in your life and environment, and (2) other places have logic and order just as in your home country, it’s a lot easier than you would expect.
If you feel hesitant about whether traveling is a possibility for you, don’t blame your financial situation. Blame your attitude, your standards of living, and your fear. If you want to travel, you have to be open to adapting your attitudes and temporarily reducing your standards of living.
If you consider yourself to be open-minded and adaptable, then consider the possibility that the excuses you create for yourself are masking the real thing keeping you from traveling: fear. Dig deep, and face head on what it is that’s holding you back. Push past your comfort zone and don’t allow your dreams to get stifled by pessimism. It’s something to work through. Read tips about how to find the courage to take a break from work to travel and volunteer here.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
H. Jackson Brown – P.S. I Love You
— Hunt & Gathr (@huntandgathr) March 7, 2016