How to Travel on the Cheap

So you want to travel but then you realized that money is a thing that exists and you don’t have any of it. Yep, I’m right there with you.

By Steven Lewis via Unsplash

Photo By Steven Lewis via Unsplash

  1. You’re never going to have the time or money to travel if you don’t make the time and the money to travel. Doesn’t even have to be a lot of money, though I’m sure we all want to paddleboard with George Clooney in Lake Como.
  2. Start with weekend trips. Make it two or three days if you’re worried about taking time off work or the expenses of a long vacation.
  3. Stay with people you know. Whether it’s an old college friend or a distant relative, someone’s probably offered you a couch or a bed. Think on it or just ask. No one has to say yes, but if they do, be a respectful and grateful guest.
  4. Stay with people you don’t know. Join the Couchsurfing community and build up your reputation. If you’re worried about staying with a weirdo, try going to some Couchsurfing meetups in your neighborhood (posted on their website) and talk to people. Later they may write you a testament to your amazing personality because without it you probably look like the weirdo. (Couchsurfing user profiles have reviews of surfers and couch hosts to give you and idea of who everyone is, so people can be picky on either end. You don’t have to stay with someone who’s personality isn’t in line with yours).
  5. Location, location, location. Try locations that are in close proximity to where you live. What’s drivable? Even find a quick, inexpensive flight. Look at airline deals, bus fares, train fares, etc… to find something doable.
  6. Plan in advance, so you don’t shit your pants. That’s right people. We can take this two ways people– pack Imodium in your first aid kit or schedule things properly so you’re not stuck in a crappy situation.
  7. Research or regret. In any good city, there are places that you’ll regret not seeing. Look online at what your destination has to offer. Check out free museum days, outdoor concerts, ongoing events, and landmarks. Sometimes places have discounts or coupons online.
  8. Budget so you don’t fudge it. Alright, it was a stretch. Once you’ve budgeted travel, think about a (realistic) daily allowance and stick to it. Don’t do that thing I do where I assign an arbitrary number to the day, like “oh yeah, 10 bucks is going to be just fine,” when I know for a fact that I’m lying to myself because that’s a common theme I’m noticing.
  9. Transportation-Smansportation. Plan how you’re getting to and from your exotic destination, but also consider how you’ll get around once you’re there. In Chicago, you’re going to want to take public transportation. In Los Angeles, you could take public transportation…? But you’ll probably want to drive.
  10. Packing Like a Pro. Pack light, smart, and conservatively. Keep your bag’s weight low. It’ll get heavy if you’re carrying it around. Also, consider a small selection of Advil, Tums, and whatnot – just incase.

There will always be 10 excuses on why you can’t do it, but look for the reasons to say yes and take them.

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