I am not one of those people who can be a nomad and quit my job, give up my apartment, say sayonara to my friends and family and just travel the world for the next how ever many years it takes me to get to all the places on my "want to see list." I have an 8-5 job that I have to be at 5 days a week, a family to attend to, friends I love to spend time with, and an apartment that I love ending my days at. I also refuse to "live on the edge" and travel all the time by putting trips on my credit cards. I plan and save.
1. It makes it something to look forward to,
2. You get that much more excited about it,
3. I'm never in debt due to a vacation.
All 3 of which are great feelings! Here are some traveling on a budget tips I make myself stick to in order to see the world, one adventure at a time:
1. Apply for a travel credit card
I know I said don't put stuff on credit cards. What I mean by apply for a travel credit card is get a credit card you can use for your daily spending money that you will pay off every paycheck, that will rack up travel rewards points. I personally use the Bank of America travel card. I'm am en route with the points I rack up from using it for gas and groceries to get a pretty dang cheap flight to Italy next summer. Pretty great, right? Airfare is the most expensive part of a trip...so cut that expense out by taking advantage of programs like this with your daily expenses! Those high gas prices will come in handy when I go to buy my plane tickets next year ;). American Express offers a great travel card, too!
2. Set up a savings
So we've taken care of the expensive airfare right? Maybe you had to fork over $50-$100 to go to Spain...woah big spender, but what about the hotel and food? Set up a savings account and put a portion of each pay check in to it with the mindset that you will be using that money to eat your way through Paris. That way when you're so tempted to buy those cute pair of shoes that are on sale, you'll be like "nahhhh I'd rather have a macaron next month in France." The upside of all this is you go on vacation and come back feeling great from it and not dreading looking at your credit card statement. There's nothing worse than going on vacation and coming back less refreshed than when you went.
3. Trip length
Take advantage of the time you're taking off of work and the time you're spending at your destination. If you're in Europe...kill 2 birds with one stone and go to Germany and Amsterdam. If you're going camping in the Black Hills of South Dakota, take a drive up north and see the buffalo in North Dakota, too. Combine and utilize your time to see the main place you're traveling too, but also the surrounding places as well. Getting to Europe is the most expensive part. So, use that single airfare you paid for or got an amazing deal on to check not 1 country off your list, but 2 or 3!
4. Cheap hotels
Sometimes it's worth it to pay a little more for a hotel, like in New York City (stay in Manhattan...not in Queens like I did), but other times it's better to curl up in a smaller/not so ritzy hotel. Unless you're planning on doing the whole hotel spa, all inclusive thing in Hawaii or something, reserve a cheap room. Are you going to ever be in your room? No. You're going to be out exploring! Why spend so much money on a place that you're only going to be sleeping at and showering at. As long as it's clean and there's a bed, who cares. Check out sites like Expedia and Booking.com. They have daily deals and if you watch for your destination over a period of time, you'll strike gold.
5. Visit friends
We're all grown up now with our big sophisticated lives with our awesome sophisticated friends, right? Ok, maybe it's not that extravagant, but we still all have friends who have moved away, or we went to college with and they went back to where they grew up far away from us. Take advantage of that! Go visit your friends in Boston or London. Not only will you have a place to stay, but you'll have an awesome companion to show you all the best places on your exploration! There's nothing better than truly finding the best slice of pizza in the Chicago because your best friend lives there *cough, come visit me friends! cough* ;). But seriously though, I took a nice weekend trip up to Minneapolis about a year and a half ago and spent less than $200 the whole time I was there because I stayed with a good friend of mine (thanks Meaghan)!