Getting The Most Out of Traveling When You’re Broke

It has been estimated that budget travelers spend about $50 a day when they are exploring different parts of the world. That includes everything from spending money on food to a place to sleep. There’s no question that people who want to travel often find ways to do so, even if they feel like they don’t have the budget for it.

If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, there is no reason you can’t afford to traverse the world. Yes, even if you’re completely broke. Whether your finances are tight due to a lack of work, or your current job won’t offer you paid time off, you can still find ways to save money while traveling and experience all the world has to offer.

Ways to Save Now

Unless you have the sudden urge to pack a bag and hop on a plane tonight, most traveling opportunities take a bit of planning, whether you’re on a budget or not. So, if you know where you want to go, take the time now to figure out how you’ll pay for it.

You might want to consider opening a line of credit and boosting your credit score so you can purchase travel items now and have a few weeks before your bill comes (so you can pay it off in full). Some credit cards even allow you to rack up airline miles that you can use for a future trip.

If money is tight because you’re out of a job or not making as much as you might like, consider a side hustle or becoming a freelancer. As of 2017, there were 55 million people in the gig economy in the U.S. That number has undoubtedly grown thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and more people looking for new jobs. Working as a contractor allows you to be your own boss and have more flexibility.

If you decide to freelance full time, you can even do it from anywhere, so it could become a part of an even greater plan to work while you travel.

As you’re planning, keep in mind how things might have changed due to COVID-19 when it comes to your safety. It’s a good idea to look at areas of the world that have strict health protocols in place. Think about things you could do at your dream destination that are COVID-friendly, like exploring the outdoors or going camping.

Experiencing the World On a Budget

You don’t have to give up traveling just because you’re broke. No matter where you go, there are things you can do to cut costs and still experience so much. When you’re willing to go off the beaten path and do fewer “touristy” things, you usually get an inside look at a new country or culture that not many people experience.

A few unique ways you can save money while still immersing yourself in your destination include:

• Cooking your own meals
• Making local friends
• Seeing what discounts you can use (student, teacher, senior, military)
• Utilizing the sharing economy

You can also make an effort to go on walking tours by yourself or with your travel group instead of paying for guided tours. This allows you to go at your own pace, and explore things on your own. Many museums are also free or low-cost, and you can learn a lot about the history of wherever you’re visiting.

One of the best things you can do when you’re on a budget is to live like a local as much as possible. This requires talking to people who live there. Find out where they like to eat, where they like to shop, and what they like to do. Most of the time, tourist attractions have prices that are higher on purpose. By learning what the locals do for fun, you can experience a fuller cultural experience without breaking the bank.

When to Splurge

No matter where you decide to go, there are occasions in which you might want to “splurge,” and that’s okay! Keep that in mind as you’re planning your trip and put a bit of extra money away in your savings to cover the cost of your splurge experiences.

For example, if you’re traveling to Italy, it may be the only time in your life where you’ll get to enjoy real Italian wine and fresh, authentic pasta dishes. So, treating yourself to dinner at a nice restaurant is certainly worth it.

However (or wherever) you splurge should have one simple rule; it should be meaningful to you. You don’t have to feel guilt over spending extra money on something when the experience is truly worth it and will create lasting memories for years to come.

Traveling on a budget isn’t impossible. From the mode of transportation you choose to the things you do when you reach your destination, it’s all about making money-saving choices without compromising the experiences you’ll have. Finding that balance can be easier than you think if you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone while you’re traveling to try something different.