Affordable Travel Guide: Four Easy Tips for Budget Travel
You might argue that we’re living in the golden age of international travel. Far-flung places are easier to reach, websites and apps give us lots of information on destinations, and the sharing economy allows us to connect and build relationships with people from all corners of the globe.
But taking an epic trip can still set you back a few thousand dollars or more. The average cost for a trip abroad for 12 to 13-nights comes to about $3,250. So how can you collect those passport stamps without also racking up some serious credit card debt? Here’s our affordable travel guide to help.
Research all costs beforehand to create a budget
The number one way people spend too much on vacation is by failing to adequately research costs beforehand. Overspending on vacations very common, with 68% of Americans going over budget while globe trotting.
It’s definitely more fun to spend hours poring over Google images of that white sand beach in Bali than price-checking transportation or lodging costs, but doing the latter will save you time, energy, and money when your plane hits the tarmac.
Websites for affordable travel
This handy website lets you input your flight and hotel budget, then generates a list of national and international vacation spots for you, complete with flight and accommodation suggestions.
To price out the average cost of just about everything at your next destination, look no further. You can find out everything from the average cup of coffee in France (US$3.20), to a cup of juice in Morocco (about US$1.04).
So you know you want a getaway, but don’t have an exact destination in mind? Look at this list of some of the cheapest travel destinations. You might find yourself planning your next three trips.
Once you have your budget set, you can easily include it on your GoFundMe travel fundraiser to help with the expenses. Supporters love to know exactly what their donations will be used for, and including a detailed budget will make them even more likely to give.
Three ways to find the best airfare
Few people can say they love the experience of air travel. Busy airports, long security checks, tiny seats and expensive food—it’s probably not the highlight of your vacation. It doesn’t help that airfare makes up 44 percent of total vacation costs—the largest chunk of your travel budget.
Taking some time to carefully plan your flight will pay off in the long run and make for a smoother vacation experience all the way around. Aside from flying out of cheaper airports or traveling during shoulder seasons, here are some other tips:
Are you flexible on timing?
Experts say that booking a continental trip 54 days in advance is often the magic number — but other factors like the season and destination can affect this. Everyone can agree that waiting until the last minute is a bad idea, but if you want a more specific window for that perfect airfare purchase, check out CheapAir’s handy “Prime Booking Window” chart for a breakdown of when to book for the best deals.
Budget airlines and aggregator sites
Budget airlines like JetBlue and Spirit in the US, or WOW air and EasyJet internationally, can offer some fantastic deals. Combing through hundreds of flights is easier with sites like Google Flights or Hopper, which allow you to set price alerts and compare thousands of flights from other sites.
Get a flight with credit card points
There’s a sharp learning curve when it comes to using credit cards to rack up points for flights and hotel stays, but there are many who swear by it and end up rarely paying for airfare at all when they travel. The Points Guy breaks it down on his comprehensive site.
Travel like a local
Toss aside your guidebook and get off the beaten path. Ditch the hotels, rideshares, and overpriced dining. You’ll have more adventures, better stories to tell, and you’ll likely save more money to boot.
Take public transport
Swapping pricey rideshares or taxis for public transportation is a huge money saver. It’s also a great way to mingle with locals and see the sights from their perspective.
Eating strategically means dining at food stalls and marketplaces instead of at overpriced restaurants in tourist areas. Ask locals for their recommendations, and enjoy better food than what you’ll find in your Lonely Planet guide. Instead of eating out three times a day, buy breakfast and lunch ingredients from the grocery store, and have a picnic lunch in the park.
Say no to hotels
It’s no secret that hotels can be overpriced and brimming with other tourists. To save money and have a more authentic travel experience, consider renting a room in a local’s home. Sites like Airbnb offer rooms or entire home rentals, and FlipKey lets you search through thousands of different property types.
Explore new ways to vacation
If you’re even more flexible, take a look into CouchSurfing, a site that puts you in touch with locals you can stay with for as a sort of cultural exchange. And if you’re not opposed to putting in some elbow grease while staying for on a gorgeous organic farm, you should check out WorkAway or Wwoof International. In exchange for roughly five-ish hours of work every day, your host will give put a roof over your head and sometimes provide all meals.
Consider crowdfunding to offset travel costs
We’ve helped thousands of people raise money for a trip of a lifetime, reunite with family members across the globe, and provide aid to others who are less fortunate via missions trips. Starting a crowdfunding fundraiser is the easiest way to reach your network of friends and family members and ask for help without feeling like you have your hand out.
GoFundMe budget travel fundraiser examples
Daniel Bishikwabo is a Congolese student living in the US who hasn’t been back home to see his family in over two years. He started a GoFundMe fundraiser to cover his travel expenses so he could see his sister get married and meet his one-year-old brother. Daniel exceeded his fundraiser goal and raised $5,575 for his trip.
For 18-year-old Destiny Nash, her desire to explore was stopped by nothing—not a lack of funds, and certainly not by a lack of eyesight. Destiny was born with a degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment, making traveling and exploration tough. Having never left her home of Chevak, Alaska, Destiny had a dream of traveling to all of the lower 48 states before losing her vision entirely. With the help of family and friends, Destiny was able to raise $13,935 on her GoFundMe for a 7-day cruise with her grandmother.
Start your budget travel fundraiser today
Everyone should be able to experience the wonders of a new city, state, or country, and return with great stories—not more credit card debt. You should be able to do it regardless if it is a fun vacation, a study abroad semester, emergency travel, or an opportunity to volunteer abroad. If taking a trip is still out of your price range, fear not—GoFundMe is here to help. Take the first step of your journey by creating a fundraiser for your trip today.