If you've read my very first blog post on my page, you would know one of my biggest goals this year is to travel, both domestically and abroad. You would also assume that it's not cheap to do either of these, and to an extent, you would be right. That said, I'm convinced it's not as expensive as most people think. When we think of traveling, we think of five-star hotels and comfortable flights - the type of things that will absolutely wreck a budget.
Luckily, I am thoroughly convinced everybody can travel in some capacity. The experience may be entirely different from what you envisioned, but travel is travel nonetheless; part of why we travel is to have new experiences anyways.
Pieces of the Puzzle
Putting together a trip can be looked at as if it's a puzzle; all the different logistics and experiences of a trip culminate to create the over-arching picture, which is getting to travel. While there are obviously many moving parts when it comes to traveling, there are a few parts of travel which deserve emphasis over others. In my mind, this is where you're going, how you're getting there, where you're staying in your chosen destination, and the experiences you decide upon.
Depending upon your personal needs, you can splurge or cut your budget in any of these categories. Maybe you choose to prioritize the activities you want to do over where you stay. In this example, you could stay in a hostel for cheap and use the difference to contribute towards experiences. It solely depends upon the person, but the key principle remains the same. We must be able to prioritize and recognize where we are and aren't willing to sacrifice. This extends beyond travel, but that's a conversation for another time. Let's take a look at each specific category.
Choosing a destination is, in theory, one of the easier parts of traveling. This is step one - you can't worry about the rest without doing this first.
For me personally, I am planning to travel both within the United States and abroad. Traveling within the United States is going to be significantly cheaper than traveling abroad solely because of the price of airfare. Western Europe is more expensive than Eastern Europe, while most of Asia can be done on a stringent budget. Me personally, I would like to go to Spain, a more expensive part of the world.
Conclusion: Where you go is entirely your decision; just keep in mind that the destination you choose will drastically change the financial picture and the culture you experience.
How to Get There
The actual act of getting to your destination is often the most expensive part of traveling. Anybody is capable of booking a flight, a train ticket, etc. The real question is whether you know about the different options in order to fit your needs.
For those who are flying: use flight aggregators, 100%. These are software programs which take input including destination, dates, and number of tickets in order to help you find a flight best suited for yourself. These programs have access to all the major airline companies in order to find the best deals. The ones I have used most in trying to plan my own trips have been Skyscanner and Google Flights; I've seen round-trip tickets to Spain for $600. It's not cheap, but to go to Europe, it's a bargain.
If you're traveling within close proximity of your home, consider driving. The trade-off here is time; are you willing to sacrifice a day of traveling to save a couple hundred bucks? For most, the answer would be yes, especially if like me, you are young and lack large sums of money.
Conclusion: anyone can use flight aggregators in order to find cheap flights that fit their budget. International flights can be found for as low as $500, while domestic flights in the US can be found for less than $100 if booked at the right time.
Apart from flying, having a place to stay is the next most expensive piece of the puzzle. Luckily, not everyone need stay in five-star resorts with all-inclusive benefits. Not knocking resorts, but simply saying there is an option for everybody.
For those feeling adventurous and a bit tight on cash, consider staying in a hostel. Hostels are extremely cost effective and great for meeting other travelers. For those who are unaware, hostels are just dorms designed for travelers to meet each other on trips. This is most likely what I will be doing over the summer.
Another great option for saving money is utilizing apps like AirBnb and Vrbo. These apps allow you to rent out apartments and houses to stay in rather than staying in hotels. While the cost won't be as cheap as staying in a hostel, it is still great in comparison to hotels. Additionally, the privacy is unmatched, and you'll be able to cook meals to save money on food.
Finally, the most mainstream option, hotels and resorts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with staying in a hotel or resort, but it will definitely cost a pretty penny. If your aim is to save money, steer clear.
Conclusion: There are accommodations options for everyone. If you're up for an adventure and looking to cut costs on where you stay, try a hostel. Want something more private for a bargain? Try AirBnb or Vrbo. If neither of these interest you, there are always hotels.
Last but not least, once you've figured out the logistics, it's time to enjoy yourself. Depending on your budget and interests, there will be plenty of activities to choose from.
For those on a tight budget, free activities will obviously be the most sensible option. This might look like walking around the city, hanging out at the beach, going for a hike, etc. There are many more things to do for free than you might think, especially if you get creative.
If you're willing and able to spend some money on activities, the possibilities are endless.
Conclusion: Plenty of fun can be had on little to no money. There are plenty of options for every financial range, so do some research and enjoy yourself.
The Final Product
By being resourceful and flexible, you could have the experience of a lifetime. Whether it's a staycation, a road trip to a nearby national park, an adventure into Southeast Asia, or a week-long cruise in the Mediterranean, there's a way to travel for everybody. Apply yourself and you'd be frightened by how easily you could get out into the world.