The best travel options for broke college students, etc.
Traveling the world has always fascinated me — and it’s something I’ve invested more in over the years. As I’ve been thinking about my trip to Mexico this summer, I’ve been pondering over how to make travel cheaper.
The truth is, when you have airplane flights, hotel stays, expensive meals, and event/museum/festival tickets to think about, the thought of running out of funds for your trips becomes a very legitimate fear and concern. The worry becomes even more real when you’re a broke college student, young professional, parent, or anyone else for that matter.
The question remains — how can we make travel less expensive, without sacrificing the quality of our adventures or our most prized destinations?
Through extensive research, personal experience, listening to the stories of others, and my own thought experiments about how I’d like to travel the world, here are ten real, scam-free suggestions for seeing, enjoying, and learning from the world without having to spend a fortune:
One simple way to cut down the expenses of staying in a hotel or renting a place, is to pack a tent and camp out somewhere close to where you’re going. Many people utilize this technique at Disney World and end up saving a lot of money in the process.
“Travel is more than seeing something new, it’s also about leaving behind something that’s old. Whether that be your past, your misconceptions, your comfort level or your anxieties, the next time you head down a new path, realize that there’s no better time to be the new you.” (Charles Kosman)
Now, if this is going to ruin in your trip and put you in a terrible mood for the entire duration of it, please don’t camp. But if you’re into trying out the outdoors, want to find some cool places to hike, or aren’t too worried about a private bathroom, this is the way to go.
Camping can show you another side of a place you’re visiting and traveling to, and can provide a great way to escape your normal life in a whole new way.
Think of how easy it will you be able to hammock, adventure through nature, and spend valuable time to yourself by camping. It might be worth the shot, and it’s definitely not an expensive experiment. Most primitive campsites run for under $50 a night.
I know, I know — this suggestion is used all of the time. However, what most people tell you is to look on housesitting websites. While I would agree that this is a good way to do it, a better way to do it is to simply find people on Indeed or on Craigslist who are simply looking for someone to watch their house. People on housesitting sites tend to expect more out of you.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” (Anthony Bourdain)
People who are putting out adds on different websites are usually looking for someone more long-term and are lower-maintenance. Find someone who needs you, and let them know that you need them in order to travel to their great city. It’s what we call a win-win situation, and it tends to not cost you anything.
You can get an internship just about anywhere these days. While they don’t always pay the most, a part-time internship could be just what you need to fund your adventure to the next place on your bucket list. I’ve looked at doing this when I travel to Washington to visit Seattle and Orcas Island. I plan to both housesit and get an internship in Bellingham for a summer in the near future. You can also get an online job/freelance and use the money from that to fund your travel.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” (Anais Nin)
My best suggestion would be to get a job that’s really close to different places you want to travel to.
I’m looking to visit NYC in the next couple of years or so, and happened to find a short-term job just an hour away that will pay me to travel out there. Find a job near where you want to go, and you’ll basically have an all expenses paid trip to whatever destination you so choose.
When I travel to Seattle, as you saw above, I don’t intend to stay in Seattle, although I’m definitely planning on visiting. Given that it’s a hotspot for tourists and bustling with people, it’s not going to be cheap to stay in, and the house-sitting jobs will most likely all be taken by the time I finalize the trip. Because of that, I’ve chosen to stay in Bellingham, which is actually a more central location to all of the places I want to travel to. This idea will really help you out in cities like New York City, Nashville, Austin, etc.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” (Saint Augustine)
Just because you want to visit, enjoy, and appreciate a city doesn’t mean you have to pay to stay in it.
While I’ll have to drive between all of these different places and spend quite a bit of money on gas, it will still be cheaper in the long run and I’ll get to see more of the state and the surrounding area, rather than focusing on a singular urban hub.
While traveling with other people by plane doesn’t reduce your cost, it does reduce your housing cost and, if you drive, can reduce your gas cost. Pool money to pay for your drive, and then split the cost of a small cabin/apartment in the city you’re traveling to and you’ve already dramatically reduced the cost from if you were going on your own.
You’ll enjoy the company, and the price reduction.
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” (Mark Twain)
Not to mention, you’ll probably have a much more fun and interesting trip if you bring a few entertaining friends along.
If you’re someone who wants to spend forever in a single place, then this might not be for you — but if you’re interested in seeing a large part of the world but not spend a fortune, try and batch your travel.
When I go to Washington for the summer, I plan to venture up to Vancouver towards the end of my stay. I also plan on visiting some other places during the drive up, such as Colorado, and some of my friends who live in Arkansas. Just because you’re destination is one place doesn’t mean you can’t take a pit stop in another place you’d love to visit.
“Great memories happen when you don’t know where you’re going.”
This makes your travel much more cost effective, and gets you way more diverse and interesting pictures for your Instagram, if you’re into that sort of thing. If you’re from boring old Missouri and you’re taking a trip to Sacramento for work, plan to stay an extra few days and visit San Diego and Ensenada. It’ll be cheap if you’re only staying a few days, and you won’t have to pay to fly out there again.
Implementing this practice in your adventures and globe-trotting will actually align better with the definition of travel anyways — “to make a journey, typically of some length or abroad.”
Far too many people these days are so focused on where they are going, like, say, Maui, Hawaii or NYC, that they fail to pay attention to the amazing places on the way. I’m happy, when I took a trip to Anchorage, Alaska a few years ago, I was able to appreciate my stop in both Chicago and Seattle, at no extra cost to me. While not all of us are cut out for slow travel, we could all try a little more mindful travel.
“It’s better to travel well than to arrive.” (Buddha)
You can do this in almost any location. If you’re going to Vancouver, visit Alaska. If you’re going to Norway, might as well visit Sweden. If you’re visiting Paris, stop by London on the way back. Get a fuller scope of an area by visiting numerous different places. It’s cheaper, and arguably a more enjoyable and overall fulfilling adventure.
While I haven’t researched these extensively and don’t plan to ever have one myself, my highschool World Geography teacher fell in love with travel and with different parts of the world when she got a job out of college that paid her to travel.
This method of getting around the world for cheap is perfect for someone whose goal really is to travel the world, doing a job that (hopefully) they enjoy. Some people get their travel in by working in a specific country in different cities, others truly have jobs that take them across the globe.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
While flight attendant is certainly one of these jobs, I was thinking more like an engineer that has to go to Washington D.C. frequently and gets paid to do so, a geologist studying different things across the world, an aid worker for the government, a consultant, an English teacher, or really any other job that involves getting paid to go somewhere and do something, with time for free travel of your own direction.
Find a job that pays you to travel, and you’ll basically be adventuring the world for free.
Find a place that is cheap to fly to, as well as a place that is inexpensive to live in/eat in. Of course, this depends on what your lifestyle and preferences are, as well as whether you stay with someone or in a hotel, but you can save a lot of money just with the choice of where you want to go.
Just because it’s easy and cheap to get to doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting.
“Somewhere cheap” also includes a place near to you. Living in Alabama, I’ve watched as many of my friends have scooted down to Florida beaches for a quick weekend in the water. It’s cheaper for them because it’s just a 6-hour drive, if that. If you live in California, take a trip down to the Baja Peninsula. If you live in Pennsylvania, take a quick trip up to New York City.
“I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question.” (Harun Yahya)
Nathaniel Drew, a YouTuber I talk about frequently in my pieces, is a YouTuber who arguably makes his living traveling. He travels to different countries, making videos on what he learns about himself, mental clarity, essentialism and living life to the fullest in each of the countries.
“The most beautiful country is the one I’ve never been to.”
His YouTube channel and the revenue he generates projects related to it allows him to travel, financially independent of any place.
You can make $1,000s of dollars sharing what you’ve learned from your experiences online.
While he doesn’t talk exclusively about the country he finds himself in, where he is staying is almost always the starting point of his different videos and gives him a good conduit to talking about something meaningful to his audience and to his sponsors.
PeaceCORPS is the perfect example of a company that will make sure you stay alive while you travel through and help different parts of the world. I’ve certainly considered this option. It’s perfect for people who are not tied down with anything and are looking to make an impact in someway, but don’t know how.
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” (Jonathan Winters)
There are so many different non-profits, government organizations, and international coalitions that need people working for them. Oftentimes they are unable to pay you significantly or at all, but can provide with food to eat and a place to live.
Given that that’s all you really need to stay alive, you can really thrive in these environments if you can find a group that’s right for you.