I am often asked the question “how do you afford to travel so much?”. People always seem to think travel is terribly expensive because they get the misconceptions from travel agencies and when looking at hotel prices. The truth is travel is very affordable given you have the time. Time makes all the difference between a cheap but fulfilling journey and a vacation. First of all, I am not a rich person. I have not had a true job in a few after the Navy years given school, though I have held a few temporary jobs. It is just my opinion that if you really want something you have to make sacrifice for it. You have to suffer today to live a better tomorrow. Often I’m told that is a very crazy and sad way to look at things. Though you only have to take a look at your current lives to see that my logic is true. You work all week so that you can enjoy a weekend and you go to university so you can get that better job. While you may not always be suffering with these you are not at your most happy.
The thing I do is that I choose to go without and I live by a very stick budget. I eat out perhaps once a week. I do not own a fancy cellphone, but an old flip phone someone has given me. I have also moved back in with my parents. This part I understand is not for everyone and some are just unable to do this. I know that I am fortunate in this one area. I however do not let my pride get the best of me and move back out on my own even though I am a 27-year-old man. It is because you get what you want you have to give.
Here are a few things that people can give up to find that money you need to travel:
Cell phones – I am not saying you do not need a cell phone. I keep one myself but you do not need an iphone or a droid and do not need these expensive smart phone packages.
Cars/Trucks – this is not a choice for many, I well understand. It is not even possible for me living in the countryside of Tennessee. I would however if able sell my car and never look back. I lived without a car in San Diego and I loved it. This will save lots of money when you do not need maintenance and gas and the cost of a public transportation pass is much less per month and buying daily or weekly for most cities.
Tattoos – yes yes I know people wish to express themselves but I know far to many people who have trouble paying bills in the first place, not to mention complain they do not have money to travel, that are spending $500+ on tattoos. I mean really? They are not needed. A tattoo expresses yourself in that period of your life but a travel memory is something you will always cherish.
Clothes – first of all if you wanna travel it is maybe best to dress down in many places unless you are in cities such as Paris or London. I have to admit I can feel like a jackass wear khaki cargo pants and a quick dry tee while walking through the gardens of Versailles. You however can have style while keeping things very basic and with the correct choices you can mix and match to many different outfits.
Stay in hostels – they are not that scary. I am really. You can’t believe movies. I have stayed in many hostels. I have stayed in a few I wondered if I really wanted to walk into but they turned out very nice places indeed and I met some really awesome people. If you get a hotel you will pay 80$ at least but in the same city, even in places such as new york, you can have a bed in downtown Manhattan for 30$ and if you are in south-east Asia or India you are looking at the 5-10$ a night range. This is also a great way to meet other travelers and often times you can get a free breakfast out of it.
Couch surfing – for those of you who do not know about this you can check out this other post I have already written describing it. I think this is possibly one of the best things a person can do in their lives and it is a true most for any traveler to do at least few times.
Take a bus! – This is when the time factor comes into play. Whenever I fly out of the US I always take a 23 hour bus from Nashville to new york. Why? Because I can get to new york for under 100usd I have went for as low as 60usd before. When given the price of a one way ticket to NYC being 200+ this is a big win. It is also much cheaper to fly out of major cities than connecting flights from smaller ones. In the US I would suggest flying from NYC, LA, Chicago, Miami, DC. If you are going to South Americ then going to Miami is a good choice, but a better choice is going to San Diego and taking the trolly to San Ysidro and cross into Tijuana. They have an international airport and you can fly much cheaper from there. You can also cross the border in Texas or if you really want an adventure take a trip with greyhound Mexico. Mexico has a very extensive bus system with extremely busy terminals. In many other countries buses are much much nicer than American bus options and are much more expansive within the countries while maintaining great prices, including Europe. Check out mega bus in the US and the UK for seats as low as 1$ or 1 pound, I have seen as far as London to Edinburgh. In Europe I would say euro lines. You can get passes for euro lines.
Hitchhike – I have never personally done thing. I have many friends who have through Canada, US and Mexico. I was close to doing it from Montreal to Quebec city but I came up with a cheap ride before I left out. I am still sad I never tried it. Though I am told that there is an art to hitchhiking so as always travel with reason and caution