1. Decide On Your Budget
This sounds so simple, but it's actually pretty important! You don't want to begin to dream up and plan a $5,000 trip, when in reality you can only afford a $500 trip. But, it goes both ways. You don't want to plan a $500 trip when you can actually afford a $5,000 trip! So, how much do you want to spend? Remember that if you are planning a trip one year in the future, you'll have plenty of time to save, compared to if you are planning a trip next weekend!
2. Choose Your Destination
Once you have an idea of the amount you are willing to spend on your trip, you should choose a destination. Again, your budget will have a huge impact on where you can actually go. If you have $5,000 and want to fly to an all inclusive resort and get the royal treatment, then go for it! But, if you are on a tighter budget, you will have to get creative. This is one of the reasons why we love road trips! By eliminating airline tickets, you can save a ton of money. Also, think about who you know who has been asking you to visit. Do you have cousins in California who have been begging you to visit? Or an uncle in Norway who has invited you to stay? Or your parents have friends who love visitors in Scotland? Or even those friends of yours that keep reminding you that they have a spare bedroom in Australia. Think about those friends and family who would love for you to visit...not only will this allow you to catch up with loved ones and see their area of the world, but you will most likely save money by staying with them in their home!
3. Plan And Save
Now, we both know that money isn't just going to appear in your bank account. This is the hard part of the process. You have decided on your budget and destination and you are going to be spending a lot of time planning and saving. Don't give up! Click HERE to check on my post on this topic.
|Camping in the Redwoods|
4. Skip Hotels
If you have friends and family who have invited you to stay, you've probably already got this covered. However, if you don't, there are some tricks to spending less money getting your beauty sleep each night while on the road. On our cross country road trip, Nick and I camped in many of the National Parks around the country, so that was a good bit cheaper than the cost of a hotel room. We even had some family and friends set us up to stay with their family and friends on our route, which was a huge blessing. Another option is airbnb...we've tried it once in Utah and it was a good experience! You basically rent from individuals who have an extra room, studio apartment or even entire home! There are some great prices out there in pretty much every city you'd want to visit. But, the absolute cheapest options are from sites like Couchsurfing because it's free...you stay with locals who are willing to host you! However, we have not tried it because Nick is nervous for us to use it...I'm hoping to convince him to try it on our road trip next summer!
5. Eat Cheap
Eating out will probably end up being the most expensive part of your trip, so don't do it! Go to the local farmers market or grocery store and stock up on things like apples, bananas, baby carrots, nuts, protein bars, water bottles and other healthy options. It's true that when we travel we end up losing weight because we are walking so much and not eating much, but we are willing to sacrifice big meals in order to travel! If you absolutely cannot go without a "real meal", consider eating very light breakfasts and dinners and only going to affordable restaurants for your lunches.
6. Look For Free Stuff
Grab your morning coffee in Starbucks to use their free Wifi. Walk around the city and visit the free museums. Go to the free show in the downtown park. Use Couchsurfing. Use your own car for your road trip, instead of paying to rent one. Did you know that you can park your vehicle and stay for free in Walmart parking lots overnight? Many times when you are flying, you'll notice that the airline will announce that the flight is overbooked and that they need volunteers to stay behind. They will usually offer you a free night in the hotel, free meal vouchers, book you on a flight the next day and give you credit for another free flight. This basically means that you get an extra free day of vacation on them AND a free flight for your NEXT trip!
7. Be Flexible
Consider choosing a time of year when not everyone is going to be traveling to that location. True, the weather may not be ideal and some things may be closed, but it will also mean that most things will be much cheaper! We visited Northern Ireland and Scotland during January and were absolutely freezing, but we dressed warm and saved money, so it was totally worth it! That day in Stirling, Scotland (pictured above) was so cold and it poured rain and we walked for what felt like miles to get to the train station. After an hour long train ride, walking to find the bus in Edinburgh, taking the bus and then hoping off to walk back home, I remember thinking that I wanted to just quit, sit down on the side walk and curl up in a ball and die there. I was obviously cold, tired and not thinking clearly. But, we made it back to our place and now it makes for a great memory!
8. Do Whatever It Takes
Many people ask how we were able to go on a month long cross country road trip and how we are able to continually take time off to travel so frequently. With our road trip it was easy...our commitment with our current job was ending on August 31st and Nick told his new boss (my dad) that he would begin working his new job on October 1st. That gave us 1 month! No, we didn't get paid during that month, so yes, we had to save enough money to cover the month long trip and the fact that we were not bringing in an income for a month. But we knew and planned for it. Now things are a little different. Since Nick still works for my dad and my dad is so generous, Nick is able to ask time off of work when we want to. It also helps that, since we own our own business selling essential oils, we can also work from anywhere in the world and continue to make an income whether we are home or traveling the world!
9. Ask For Help
Seriously. If you are totally blocked and can't think of where to go and how to do it cheap, just get on Pinterest. Look through the Travel pins and use the search function to type in stuff like "how to travel cheap", "traveling on a budget" or whatever you can think of. Or I bet you have at least one family or friend who has some traveling background...ask them for help! And don't forget about me! I'd love to help you dream and brainstorm and plan. If you want to travel somewhere and you are willing to do the hard work to make it happen, I KNOW that it can be done!