How To Make Your Money Last While You Travel

I’ve been traveling for a few years now and, trust me, it wasn’t always easy or cheap. When you’re on the road, there are a lot of opportunities to experience new and exciting things. There are also a lot of opportunities to overspend. That’s why we’re going to give aspiring travelers a blueprint for how to stretch their money while on the road with this guide. From budget-friendly hotels to adventurous work-travel programs and ways to find deals on flights, worrying about your wallet while on a trip can be a thing of the past. Let’s dive in!

Volunteer In Exchange For Accommodation

Ciara Johnson

I once sailed the San Blas Islands from Panama to Colombia and it didn’t cost me a dime. How? Well, I volunteered on the sailboat. I’d soak up the sun and snorkel by day, then help out in the kitchen by night. I worked alongside two Colombian sailors, but it didn’t feel like work at all. These unique volunteer experiences exist all over the globe with websites like Worldpackers and Workaway. Imagine running pub crawls in Berlin, teaching yoga in Bali, or planting crops at a permaculture garden in Brazil. You can essentially eliminate your accommodation costs by exchanging a few hours of your day. Working hard or hardly working?

Use Your Tax Refund

Ciara Johnson

Tax season only comes around once a year, so why not use your refund to finally book that trip? You’ll be receiving a pretty big chunk of cash and there’s no better way to treat yourself. Use Wander to plan a trip based on the amount of your tax refund. You’ll be reliving those memories long after you’ve returned.

Sleep On A Strangers Couch

Ciara Johnson

Thanks to Couchsurfing, I’ve been able to stretch my budget in destinations like Paris and Belize. Hosts around the world will provide you a place to stay without expecting anything in return. My host in Paris doubled as a city guide and my host in Belize treated me as if we’d known each other all of our lives. In fact, I’m still in contact with my hosts and it feels good to know that I have local friends anytime I return to those places. It may be hard to believe that there’s a community of people who want to help you travel on a budget, but it’s very real. Couchsurfing reveals the true generosity and hospitality that exists around the world.

Set Price Alerts For Your Flights

Ciara Johnson

If you’ve ever missed a flight deal by a day or two, you’re definitely not alone. Flight prices are unpredictable. So you’ve got to jump when you get the chance. You may not have time (or the desire) to stay glued to your computer all day. So set those price alerts! Hopper will predict flight changes and notify you any time flight prices drop. It probably sounds like a frequent flier’s dream, but that’s because it is. Sit back, relax, and save!

Skip The Flights

Ciara Johnson

When we think of traveling, we often think of flying. However, you may be overlooking more affordable forms of transportation. While backpacking through Europe, I’d country-hop using Flixbus and Eurail. I’ve saved hundreds by choosing buses over flights while traveling the United States. I’ve used Rome2Rio to find the cheapest forms of transport while venturing from the top of Central America to the bottom. You can even hail a ride with locals using Blablacar. Think of all the money you’ll save and the stunning sights you’ll see along the way.

Ditch Your Bucket List

Ciara Johnson

We’ve all got a bucket list, but flexibility will pay off in more ways than one. If you keep an open mind, you can find the cheapest flight to anywhere using Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ function. Plug in your departure city to discover incredible flight deals to places you never imagined.

Become a House Sitter

Ciara Johnson

If you’re traveling long term, then you may want to consider house-sitting. With websites like Trusted Housesitters, you can score yourself a free vacation home. If you’re a pet lover, then you’re in luck. Nearly every home comes with an adorable dog or cat to accompany your adventures. Buy your flight and then experience what it’s like to truly live like a local in your dream destination. Once you pay a membership fee, you’ll have unlimited access to a house and pet sitting opportunities all over the world.

Choose Your Drinks Wisely

Ciara Johnson

Coffee and alcohol add up, especially while traveling. How else would you survive those late nights out dancing salsa in Cuba or that early morning walking tour in Rome? You might be tempted to splurge on drinks while you’re on the road, but consider taking it easy. Research the best restaurants and bars for happy hour once you land. Save on drinks so that you can splurge on experiences.

Eat Like A Local

Ciara Johnson

Everyone knows that travel is mostly about the food. Step away from the tourist strips to save on food and sink your teeth into the real deal. Visiting local markets to get a taste of the culture will be some of the best food you’ll eat on your trip. If you plan to travel for an extended period of time, book an Airbnb so that you can whip up some local favorites in the kitchen.

Take Advantage Of Your Student Status

Ciara Johnson

Being a broke college student can take you further than you think. As a student, your school ID is almost as important as your passport. My student ID has given me free entry to museums and events around the world. I’ve been able to secure student-exclusive flight and hotel deals using websites like Student Universe. Don’t forget to apply for scholarships on Go Abroad and Diversity Abroad as well.

Remember, while money can mean access to the travel and new experiences that help give life meaning, it doesn’t have to be as limiting as you might assume.