Let’s face it, everybody dreams of traveling the world at some point in their lives. But few people actually do it. Unfortunately, the majority don’t ever get to live out their dream. You see, it’s easier to come up with excuses of why you can’t do it than to actually take the plunge.
Because committing to such an endeavor is actually a life-altering event. It takes a lot of courage to actually go for it in the first place. It’s easier to fall back onto excuses such as time, commitments, money etc.
Of course, sometimes the context is of such nature that traveling is really out of the question. But most people living in the developed world can indeed travel the world if they really wish to do so. The main thing they need to have is will.
In this article, I’ll tackle one of the most common excuses: traveling the world is too expensive. Read on, and I’ll show you a bunch of ways that make low-cost travel possible.
The biggest 3 expenses when it comes to international travel, especially on extended periods of time, are:
There also are other types of expenses, but they don’t even come close to these 3. So I’ll take each them one by one and show you how you can reduce your costs to a minimum while traveling:
Low-cost transportation solutions
You can’t beat free! In my 20s this was my favorite way of getting around in Europe. I once hitchhiked from Romania to Berlin and another time around Turkey for 2 weeks, all while camping. The costs of these trips were really small, basically just food and some other small expenses.
I’ve had some of the best travel experiences when hitchhiking. This is one of the best ways to get to know regular people in a foreign country and have a feel of what their lives are like.
If you want to hitchhike, make sure you have a plan beforehand. Know your destination and your route. Also, take into consideration that the higher limit is about 500 km/day. But actually, 2-300 km/day would be ideal for a days travel.
Make sure to inform yourself of each country’s hitchhiking habits as well. There are numerous cultural differences. So read up on your destination on sites such as Hitch Wiki. Wiki Travel is another good resource.
Get inspired by people such as Jeremy who traveled around the world via hitchhiking. And if you’re wondering how you cross the oceans by hitchhiking, then you should know that you can do so by hitching rides on transoceanic ships. Here’s an article from Wiki Travel with more info on the subject.
If hitchhiking is not your cup of tea, then try carpooling. This is similar to hitchhiking only it’s more organized and you need to chip in for gas money. Some people feel safer when doing carpooling and thus prefer it over hitchhiking. The most known website for carpooling is BlaBlaCar.com but it’s definitely not the only one.
Just create an account, search for your desired destination and see if anyone is going there anytime soon. Then find a suitable car, book your place and aaaway you go!
This is another free travel alternative. You just need to invest in a sturdy bike. There are a lot of people biking around the world such as Tom who biked through more than 50 countries.
Cheap train tickets
At least in Europe, there are some real bargains by traveling via trains like the EuRail pass for non-EU citizens and the InterRail pass for Eu citizens. But if you’re 18 and from EU, then you really hit the jackpot, because you get to travel for free! Yeah, that’s right! The EU is offering free train tickets within Europe to 18-year-olds.
Cheap plane tickets
If you happen to have a small budget for transportation, then this might be the best option for you. There is a lot of information on this subject on the internet already, but the main thing you should know is that the more flexible you are with your travel dates, the more likely you are to find inexpensive flights to your desired destination.
My favorite hack is to go in skyscanner.com and choose my departure and destination countries, then select “whole month” instead of a specific date. In this way, I get to see all the cheapest flights from one country to another in a specific period.
This is one of the best guides on finding a cheap flight I know of. I personally bought it and found it to have valuable information, especially for trips in exotic countries such as SE Asia.
Low-cost accommodation tips
The hitchhiking of accommodation! Although past its prime days, Couchsurfing is still a reliable place to find free accommodation wherever you might want to go. I successfully used it to find hosts in countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Bulgaria.
The main downside of this approach is that you cannot stay too much time in the same place. Hosts are usually comfortable to have someone over for 2-3 days.
Another free alternative. There are a bunch of house sitting websites around, but I only have experience with TrustedHouseSitters.com which I used to find a 3-month stay in Sweden. You can find opportunities all around the globe starting from a few days to a few months.
What you need to consider when doing house sitting is the fact that during your stay you need to take care of the house and/or it’s annexes and/or any pets/animals that might be around. So there some responsibility on the line. But it’s completely free!
Choose cheap destinations
Developing countries are a great option for people that want to travel on a small budget. Compared to the amount of money you’d expect to pay for rent in a western country, you can find accommodation at a fraction of the cost. For example here’s Thrifty Steve showing around his $100/month studio in Chiang Mai:
How to save on food costs
Don’t eat out
That’s basically it. The more you eat out, the more you spend on food, especially in more expensive countries. But also in cheaper ones. For example, in Thailand, I was usually spending $300+/month because I was eating out almost daily. If I were to buy groceries and make my own food I could fit it all in under $100/month.
Making your own food is also a good way to learn how to cook. This can be a source of great joy in anyone’s life.
Don’t drink alcohol
This is not really food, but most people spend a lot on alcohol. I implemented income tracking a few years ago and I was surprised to see how much I was spending on alcohol. It was one of the largest expenses for me after accommodation and food. So if you manage to drink very little alcohol or nothing at all, you’ll be able to save some good amount of money that you could otherwise spend on something more useful.
This wraps it up. I hope that I managed to show you some new approached to low-cost travel and that you’ll feel inspired by them. And to take action!