When you have expenses like rent and student loans to consider, finding the extra cash to travel can seem impossible. Don’t let money stop you from enjoying your life and seeing the world your own way. Here are eight tips for traveling on a budget that won’t prevent you from making your retirement account contributions.
1. Be Flexible
When you’re not tied down to a certain timeframe, you can find great last minute cruise deals and cheap flights from companies looking to sell tickets for fast-approaching dates. If you’re able to travel during the week, take the red-eye or visit during the off-seasons in less than perfect weather, then you’re likely to find the best deals on your vacation.
2. Use Credit Card Rewards
Part of adulting means building your credit score. If your credit card company offers rewards points on purchases, then everything you buy can potentially earn you cash toward your next adventure. When you make your personal budget, find out how much money you spend each week, and estimate your possible passive earnings based on the rewards percentage per swipe. It may take time to earn enough points to pay for a trip, but every little bit helps.
3. Fly on Budget Airlines
Budget airlines offer regional domestic flights at extremely discounted prices, making them an excellent choice for a frugal traveler. However, there’s a catch. You’ll be forfeiting space and comfort, as well as drastically limiting the size and weight of your luggage. Checking a full-sized suitcase, choosing your own seat and having an in-flight snack will all cost extra, so be prepared to rough it for the few hours it will take to get where you want to go.
4. Consider a Group Trip
Solo travel is amazing because you can do what you want when you want without input from anyone else, but it’s costly. So, until you can afford not to care about the money you spend on holidays, consider traveling with a companion or two to split expenses. Sharing hotel rooms and rental cars means you don’t shoulder the entire cost of accommodation, and you have a larger budget for remaining expenses.
5. Cook for Yourself
Meals are often the priciest part of traveling, but with a little preparation, you can eat cheaply and save your cash for more important activities. Likely, your Airbnb has a kitchenette or full kitchen that you can use to cook for yourself. Hit the local grocery store when you first arrive, then make simple wraps or sandwiches to carry with you during the day as you explore. If your accommodation offers a continental breakfast, you can usually grab an extra croissant or muffin to-go.
6. Avoid Roaming Fees
Don’t come home to a hefty cell service bill due to roaming charges. As soon as you arrive at your destination, purchase a SIM card for your phone from a local provider. If you plan to travel long-term through multiple countries, switch to a service provider that offers good coverage worldwide for your phone, data and messaging needs.
7. Don’t Waste Money Getting Cash
In some parts of the world, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a business that accepts foreign debit and credit cards, so carrying a small amount of cash is essential. However, you’ll want to make sure your bank issues refunds for ATM fees and doesn’t charge a ridiculous exchange rate, or you’ll lose money each time you pull from your account.
8. Get a Job, or Become a Digital Nomad
Many employers have discovered that letting employees telework actually increases productivity, leading to a growing number of people adopting the digital nomad lifestyle. After graduation, look for a job you can do from anywhere, or find employment in a country you know you want to visit for a while.
Travel can be expensive, but even just a few of these tips and tricks can help you save a lot of money. By combining multiple cash-saving techniques, you can have the exciting, adventure-filled life you’ve always dreamed of, without accruing insurmountable debt.