You’ve been bitten by the travel bug and you’re itching for an adventure. Maybe you’ve recently graduated and are taking some time off to explore the world before diving into your dream career. Or perhaps you’ve got some vacation days to use and are hoping to plan your ideal trip. If you’re anything like most people, there is no shortage in the list of places that you’d like to visit. There are plenty of destinations that sound appealing, but despite the dreams of faraway places and the desire to explore, you haven’t planned your trip yet…why not?
For many people, the logistics of planning, and yes, financing a trip can be overwhelming. You may be wondering, “Where do I begin?” or “Is my dream of traveling even possible?” This can feel especially daunting for young adults who probably aren’t making six-figure salaries yet and are slowly paying down student loan debt.
Although it may feel like an impossible dream, traveling in your twenties and thirties is not only possible but can also be affordable! Here are our top hacks to make planning your ideal vacation easier and more affordable.
- Take Advantage of Travel Programs for Young Adults If you are interested in traveling with a group, organizations such as Under 30 Experiences offer travel packages specifically designed for young adults. The itinerary and budgets for these trips are created with the young traveler in mind. It’s a great way to meet new people, explore new places, and enjoy a fantastic vacation without needing to plan each detail yourself!
- Apply For Paid Internships If you are looking to travel abroad, look into paid internship opportunities. Many internship programs cover your living expenses or even offer salaries, stipends or honorariums. For example, Global Nomadic’s Teach Abroad and China Au Pair programs offer paid placements that give you the option to spend a significant amount of time immersing yourself in another culture and exploring new cities while working for a salary.
- Compare Flights It’s common knowledge that you should always compare flight prices before booking your ticket, especially if you are planning your trip on a budget. Sites such as momondo.com and skyscanner.com allow you to compare ticket prices from all major airlines, giving you the ability to book the most affordable ticket.
- Search for Airfare Using An Incognito Browser When using a typical web browser, websites are collecting cookies, meaning they record the information you search. When a particular flight is searched for multiple times, airlines begin to consider this flight to be in high demand. Consequently, airlines will raise their ticket prices. Using an incognito browser does not allow airline websites to track your searches and or raise their ticket prices based on your interest.
- Use “Spot” to Find Restaurants and Dining Options While you are probably familiar with “Yelp”, a website and app designed to give you information about local restaurants, you may be less familiar with the “Spot” app. Unlike Yelp, which relies primarily on subjective customer reviews, Spot is a free app that combines information from Zagat and other expert publications in addition to customer reviews. This provides you with the most well-rounded information about local restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and more.
- The “Gametime” App Makes Planning Activities Simple It’s all about experiences. If you find yourself with a free evening on your vacation and looking for something to do, Gametime is an app that allows you to purchase last minute and discounted tickets to local sporting events, concerts, and shows. It’s an easy and affordable way to fill your trip with fun activities and lasting memories.
- Don’t Book Hotels in High Tourist Areas There is a reason they are called “tourist traps”. In most cities, there is typically an area that has the greatest concentration of tourist attractions and activities. For example, when visiting New York City, Times Square is filled with attractions to occupy the countless tourists that fill its streets. These areas are also where you will find the most expensive hotels. When visiting a popular tourist destination, book your hotel outside of the most touristy parts of the city. You’ll likely find a hotel with just as many amenities and luxuries as you would in the center of the main tourist area, but for a much better price.
- Choose Restaurants Outside of Touristy Areas Just like hotels, restaurants found in the center of tourist areas are often significantly more expensive than those found just outside of the main area of attraction. When you choose restaurants outside of the tourist traps, not only are you getting better prices, but you’ll probably find yourself sitting the “local favorite.” In many cases, the restaurants favored by the local population have better food and a more enjoyable atmosphere than the expensive, touristy alternatives.
- Create A Monthly Savings Goal The number one reason people don’t pursue their dreams of traveling is feeling intimidated by the upfront cost of travel. Once you’ve done a little bit of research on your ideal trip, you should have a pretty good idea of what the overall cost will be. Even when utilizing all of the budget-friendly tools and hacks, traveling costs money and it’s a good idea to save ahead of time.
Take your estimated total cost and divide it by the number of months you have to save.
For example, if your trip to Ireland is going to cost you $1500 and you have 12 months to save, your monthly savings goal would be $125. $125 can feel like a more manageable and less overwhelming number, making you less likely to give up your plans before you’ve even started saving.
- Travel Over Long Weekends If you don’t have the vacation days or can’t afford to take a full week or two for traveling, take advantage of long weekends. There is a lot you can see and accomplish in three or four days. Choose a destination and top five attractions or activities you’d like to experience on your mini-trip. Traveling over long weekends also allows for more frequent trips throughout the year, as you aren’t requesting as much time off work.
- Travel During The “Off-Season” Many destinations have a peak travel season when they welcome the majority of their visitors. During these times, activities and restaurants are more crowded, hotels are harder to book, and just about everything is more expensive. Instead of traveling during peak tourist season, avoid the crowds and save some money visiting cities during their “off-season”.
- Stay in Hostels Popular throughout Europe, these dorm style rooms give travelers a cheaper option for traveling. Hostels offer more affordable prices than most hotels, rental homes, and condos. They are also an excellent place to meet other like-minded travelers.
- Skip the Souvenirs Although the idea of purchasing t-shirts sporting famous landmarks, or Eiffel Tower snow globes for each of your family members and closest friends may sound alluring, for the sake of your traveling budget, forego the overpriced souvenirs. Instead, take lots of photos and splurge on an experience or two that you’ll always remember.
- Book In Advance Whether considering plane tickets or searching for hotels rooms, the prices for each component of your trip are likely to skyrocket as you approach your departure date. The earlier you are able to book your trip, the better. You’ll find better deals and be able to create a more seamless travel itinerary if you give yourself some time to arrange the details.
These travel hacks should give you a starting place for planning a trip that is both exciting and affordable. If you’re someone with a desire to travel and a list of places you’d like to visit, choose a destination and get planning! Check out Global Nomadic’s open project opportunities for destination inspiration: https://globalnomadic.com/project-search/