If you’ve spent countless hours stuck in a cubicle at work, daydreaming about those bucket-list vacations that seem above your current pay grade, then prepare for the shocking truth: You can afford to travel, and saving money is easier than big-budget tourism companies often lead you to believe.
Immersing yourself in another culture and landscape offers enrichment that’s worth every dollar (or euro, krona, dinero!) spent, and it’s an added bonus when you can indulge those globetrotting desires while keeping your dollars where they belong—in your bank account.
The following opportunities allow you to travel far and wide for much less than you might think. In some cases, you can even travel for free, so get ready to pack your bags.
If you’re open to a working vacation, numerous websites will fund most—or, in some cases, all—of your travel expenses. Often, you’ll also receive a stipend to spend on experiences and adventures when you have free time.
These trips aren’t normal work trips. You could help Madrid locals practice their English with companies like Diverbo or volunteer on an organic farm in Uganda with organizations like WWOOF. In both cases, your experience abroad is both affordable and altruistic, and also allows you to better connect with the locals, which is always valuable in an unfamiliar place.
If you’re curious about which customs, traditions and cultural nuances define your ethnic origin, some countries may be interested in guiding you toward those discoveries. These trips give young adults the opportunity to explore their ancestral nation on another organization’s dime.
All costs are covered, from the airfare and lodging to the entertainment and transportation. Some of these programs include popular options like Birthright Israel and Heritage Greece, along with lesser-known programs such as Reconnect Hungary and Birthright Armenia.
If you’re headed to an urban destination in Europe, consider purchasing a City Card to maximize both convenience and money-savings. This inexpensive pass offers multiple benefits like free admission to museums and other attractions, discounts at restaurants, unlimited access to public transit and complimentary guide maps. In addition, you can choose single or multi-day options, depending on your travel needs, and the City Card is available in 36 locales across 21 European countries.
If you’re interested in cutting the overall cost of accommodations, then choose a two-star hotel rather than a three-star or higher which could save $39.25 on average per night. The only difference between these 2- and 3-star ratings is the type of amenities offered like fitness centers, swimming pools, conference rooms, lounges and restaurants, or concierge services. While these perks are enjoyable, the reality is that you’ll spend more time sightseeing or adventuring outside.
If you’re willing to invest more time, effort and research into the flight booking process, you can find under-the-radar websites that significantly reduce the expense of round-trip airfare. One particular resource worth knowing about is Which Budget, a search engine that consolidates bargain flights across the Internet for a variety of airlines, destinations, travel dates and price points.
Another economical approach is to book directly with a low-cost carrier based in whichever region of the world you’re planning to visit. The process may be more complicated—making out-of-country calls—but in the end, you could save a significant amount of cash.
Traveling doesn’t haven’t to be expensive. Volunteer your time, explore your heritage, or look in the right places for a cheaper flight to get where you want to go without the high costs.