Got the Travel Bug, But Not The Budget?

It always seems to be a catch 22. I want to travel, but I have no money. I generally have a break from school over the holiday season, but that’s also the best time to make money (if you are working in retail). It’s tough when you are a student. Before you begin planning everything, make sure you save as much as you can throughout the school year while you work part time.

I wish I could travel the world like the ocean does with its waves.

You hear about everyone’s travel plans, and you wish you could follow, but the two to three digit number in your bank account just won’t allow it. For every challenge, there is a method to solve it, but it does taking hard work and planning. It may not involve five star hotels, but who needs those anyway?

There are two types of travelers in my opinion. There is the type that pre-books everything: flights, hotels, restaurants, parks, etc. Then there is the fluid traveler like me that knows the end destination, but makes plans as they go depending on time, weather, budget, etc.

Over the holiday season, I wanted to go somewhere, but I also couldn’t spend $1,000+ on a flight ticket. So, I took a road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco instead. I stopped at Seattle and Portland on the way, and did some shopping at the outlet malls. There are some must-see places, but before that, I have some travel-thrifty tips for you:

Tip #1: Skip the flights and carpool.

Over the holiday season, it’s just too expensive to fly. Invite a few friends to join your road trip (ideally friends who have driver’s licenses) and take turns driving. It will take longer, but you will save on transportation costs.

If there is a local bus, that could be a cheaper option too. What I love about road trips is that you might see an interesting town on the way, and it gives you the flexibility to stop and explore. It also facilitates great bonding time with your friends or significant other.

That said, make sure you are going with people you are compatible with. You will be stuck in a car with them for up to 15 or 20 hours depending on where you go.

Tip #2: Look for travel inns or hostels.

You’re not travelling to stay in a hotel all day, so what you need is a bed to crash on and a shower. Hostels often have shared kitchens which means you can save money on dining out. Bring some sleeping bags so you can room together and rotate on who gets to use the bed.

Tip #3: Skip the restaurants.

The last thing you want is to spend all your money on dining out. Spend the money on museums, historic locations, parks, etc.

One tip is to plan your meals in advance. Bring a cooler stocked full of on-the-go meals, and bring a thermos where you can fill up hot water at a coffee shop (bring tea bags with you). Also bring snacks for the way.

If you do need to re-fuel, go to local supermarkets, and they tend to have cheaper prices for ready meals/salads, etc. The other option is fast-food, but I try to avoid this. It’s cheap, but don’t be so cheap to yourself. Health comes first.

Tip #4: Travel hacking tips to find cheap flights.

You can use these tips, for example:

If you do choose to travel by plane, Tuesday afternoons are usually the cheapest time to book a flight. Try to avoid flying on Fridays and weekends if possible because airlines jack up the prices for those times. Try to pick the early morning flights so that you don’t waste the day in transit; likewise, try to pick the later or red-eye flights when returning.

If you do travel quite a fair bit, make sure you get air miles or a credit card that can give you travel points. And play around with the dates if you are flexible when looking for cheaper flights. I once found a ticket to New York from Vancouver under $400 in November. Airlines often reduce the prices before the high seasons (e.g. Christmas, summer).

That’s a wrap for the travel tips. Stay tuned for my adventure stories in Portland and more!

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