Simple Travel With Little or No Money? No problem!
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It’s a common notion that you need money to travel. I remember watching hours of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movies and thinking just that. These girls were always flying first-class with huge suitcases, relaxing in fancy hotels while scoping out the cutest guys, and wearing the hippest fashions at the hottest clubs. When you see their films and covers of Travel + Leisure, it’s easy to believe that traveling is a luxury. Luckily, from living abroad, I’ve learned this isn’t the case. You don’t have to be a millionaire to see the world. Plus, minimalist travel is more fun anyway. You get to explore a destination and a culture at a deep and personal level, leading to an unforgettable experience abroad. Here are some tips for simple travel with little or no money.
Hostelworld is your Best Friend
Hostelworld.com connects you with hundreds of hostels in diverse destinations around the globe. You’ll save a lot of money when you opt to stay in one of these instead of a hotel. On a 2-week backpacking euro-trip to Rome, Athens, Thessaloniki and Barcelona, I paid 8-15 Euros a night for each hostel I booked through their site. Hotels in these major European cities typically cost at least 50 Euros a night or more. Plus, unlike a hotel, you often get a lively social experience when you stay in a hostel. It’s so easy to meet other budget travelers like you! The cheapest accommodation options are usually dorms. They can be coed or single-sex and may include 4 to 10 people in one room. Other options include double and single bed options, but they are a bit more expensive.
Some of my best traveling experiences have been in hostels. On my Athens trip, I partied the night away, Greek style, with two girls from England that I met in my hostel dorm. When I visited Rome, my Italian hostel owners cooked all of their guests authentic homemade pasta dinners every night! You can’t replicate these cultural experiences in a hotel or traditional accommodation. So, if you’re looking for some cheap fun, stay in a hostel! And book in advance to get the cheapest prices.
Inexpensive travel usually involves walking or taking public transportation. So, you may not be hailing a taxi or calling an Uber to get to your destination’s city center from the airport. This is why it’s so important to pack light! Every time you travel on a budget, take only a backpack. For a 3-4 day trip, it’s best to pack 1-2 day outfits, 3-4 pairs of underwear and 2 pairs of socks (although dedicated minimalists can make do with half as much and wash on the go). You might consider an extra pair of shoes, depending on your activities (hiking, clubbing, etc.). But, that’s it.
It’s also not necessary to bring a carry-on suitcase for a quick weekend getaway. I never do it because it’s simply too much of a hassle; and if you’re going on an “adventure vacation” that involves hiking, trekking or camping, it’s a no-brainer that you should only bring a backpack. Too much luggage adds too much stress. You don’t need that while you’re on vacation!
Use Ryanair’s Fare Finder
Ryanair is like cheap flight heaven in Europe. As long as you check in via their app or website to avoid an additional fee and pack lightly (preferably bringing only a backpack), you won’t spend a lot to get around the continent. Simply use Ryanair’s Fare Finder to discover the cheapest destinations. It’s great for finding cheap flights months ahead of time. On the website, select your current city in Fare Finder’s “From” column, and in its “To” column, select “Anywhere” to search flight prices to everywhere they fly. It’s a great way to find interesting destinations you may not have considered otherwise. You can even set your budget on Fare Finder to as low as $20 or less. Just click “Let’s Go” and see all the cheap European destinations to help you plan your next trip.
For Destinations Outside of Europe, Use Skyscanner
Skyscanner.com, like Ryanair, lets you select an “Anywhere” option that shows the cheapest destinations from your chosen city. Unlike Ryanair, you have the option to view flight prices from different travel providers like Expedia, EasyJet or Orbitz, which may help you find the most affordable prices for your trip.
Take Free Walking Tours
I can go on and on about how important it is to take advantage of walking tours. They’re fun, interesting and technically FREE. A free walking tour can be just as good as one that charges 50 Euro or more per person. Because freelance tour guides run these excursions, you essentially “pay what you can” at the end by tipping your guide. It’s a great way to show your appreciation for a unique experience. You spend minimal cash and still get an awesome introduction to the city you’re visiting. I’ve been on free walking tours in Barcelona, Amsterdam and Venice and had amazing guides. I learned so much about the unique history of each of these wonderful cities, which made me even more excited to dive further into the local culture. Check out Freetour.com to book free tours with local guides in over 110 countries.
Live Like a Local
If you only venture around the touristy parts of a city, you’re bound to spend a lot of money. Here’s a piece of advice: stay with the locals. On a recent trip to Barcelona, my boyfriend and I stayed in an Airbnb in a neighborhood called Vilapicina, which was a few metro stops out of Barcelona’s city center. We interacted with charming local Spaniards in their everyday lives and got some cheap deals on food and coffee, which is always great.
In Vilapicina, a cup of coffee usually costs just under a Euro, but in Barcelona’s city center, coffee prices are typically a Euro or two more. We also ate the most authentic and delicious Spanish tapas at a wonderful restaurant named La Esquinica, in our little neighborhood of Barcelona. My boyfriend and I indulged in savory croquettes, delicious calamari and marinated clams that were fresh from the sea.
The best part is, all of these dishes were affordable. The most expensive was the clams, which cost about 13 Euros, but it was big enough to share. However, for the quality and size, the same dish would have easily been several Euros more in the city center. So, live like a local! It’s the best way to get the most authentic and affordable cultural experience on your vacation.
Spend Time with Nature
It won’t cost you cent to hike up a majestic mountain or relax on a beautiful beach for a day. However, you may need an inexpensive bus ticket to get there and some snacks or water for the road, but that’s about it. Witnessing a country’s natural beauty helps you appreciate the beauty of the world. There are so many unbelievable mountains, cliffs, beaches and forests to see just about everywhere. So, get out and see Earth in its most rugged, magical corners. If you need inspiration, check out this list of the 50 awe-inspiring natural wonders for your bucket list.
Now you’re set! With these useful tips, you’ll save a lot of money, lessen your traveling burdens and most of all, discover the hidden gems of a new country. These benefits of travel should be available to everyone. So, don’t be afraid to spread the word! Take your friends and family with you and share a wonderful experience of simple travel with little or no money.