When you graduate college with no job and an incurable addiction to travel, you start getting creative. I did the math; turns out traveling non-stop can actually be cheaper than renting an apartment in many US cities. Before you pack your bags, remember that I am not talking about flying first class, sleeping in a luxury hotel, and eating off of a silver platter. I'm talking about budget travel: sharing rooms with fellow travelers, cramming into minivans full of locals, eating something you don't recognize, etc. Still interested? This post is for you.
With a little extra work, travel can be shockingly affordable. Luckily for you I've already done most of the work and gathered some of my favorite online resources that will allow you to enjoy the benefits of affordable travel.
Getting There: Online resources for affordable transportation
For the truly travel-crazed, Adioso is my absolute favorite site for booking flights, and not just because the site is beautiful, clean, and easy to navigate. On their site you can set your trip specifications and Adioso will search for the cheapest flights that fit your description. If you are booking a flight to a set destination on a specific date, traditional sites like Kayak still provide the best budget-friendly results, but Adioso is perfect for the more flexible traveler. Say you want to go to Europe in March, but you don't care which country or what specific day. Type that in and Adioso will sift through travel deals and one-off flights to find the best airfare from your home city to anywhere in Europe any time in March. Who knew affordable travel was only a few clicks away?
Rome2Rio is my go-to for multi-leg adventures or trips that don't necessarily require flying. Enter any two destinations and Rome2Rio will show you all the different ways to get there (and their approximate costs). There's no need to google every train, plane, bus, and ferry from point A to point B. Rome2Rio will deliver all the options in one place, map included.
This last one is only relevant to Europe-specific travel (and Mexico and India, randomly). Bla Bla Car is a car sharing website where you pay for a seat in someone's car. Once you find a trip that fits your needyou can read the driver's reviews, see how many other passengers have reserved a seat, and ask the driver any questions you might have before booking your trip. Or, if you are driving somewhere but don't want pay for gas, put your own trip on Bla Bla Car! I used Bla Bla Car to get from Paris to London for less than $50, but even better than the savings was the cat purring on my lap the whole way there.
Staying There: Online resources for affordable accommodation
The above photo is of a room in South Africa at Djuma Vuyatela Lodge that costs $1100 a night... I stayed there for free. Mind you that's a whole different story, but the point is travel can be much cheaper than it first appears. One of my favorite resources for cheap accommodation is Work Away. In exchange for 3-5 hours of work per day, people all over the world are offering free housing and food. Work Away boasts over 16,000 hosts representing just about every country in the world. You can find anything from childcare to farming to building to working in a hostel... the list is endless. All you have to do is promise a few hours of labor a day in exchange for room and board. Some people are turned off by the idea of working while on vacation, but honestly most of the projects are more exciting than what I would be doing if I was on my own in these places. Plus, it's an amazing way to meet locals and integrate yourself into the community.
All in all, volunteer based travel is one of the cheapest ways to travel. The middle-man sites that connect you with voluntourism opportunities (like Global Volunteer Network) tend to be a bit expensive. However, if you go straight to the source it gets a lot cheaper. If you are interest in volunteer travel, I recommend researching specific organizations in countries you are interested in visiting. Or follow my blog as I am going to be writing a post about volunteer travel resources fairly soon.
If you don't want to work or volunteer, you can still live cheap. AirBnb and Hostels are two well-known sites that connect you with affordable travel accommodations. I have also heard a lot of great things about Couchsurfing, though I have yet to try it myself.
You can travel cheaper than ever before
With the infinite number of online resources offering affordable travel nowadays, there is no excuse to stay home. There are countless places to see and even more ways to get there and stay there than ever before. If your budget is the main obstacle keeping you from exploring the world, it's time to rethink some things. Who knows, maybe with these resources you'll finally be able to take that trip you've only dreamed about until today.
Make sure to keep checking back or subscribe to my blog for regular posts about unique ways to make travel more affordable. If you have some great online resources of your own, leave the link in the comments below so we can all check it out!