W H A T T O D O
WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY
T O T R A V E L
The first thing people say to me when I tell them about my travels is, "Well. You're lucky. You must be rich" to which I usually respond, "If I was rich do you think I would really be speaking to you peasant?"
The truth is I'm not rich at all. I'm the opposite. I'm cheap. I can't remember the last time I went clothes shopping or got my nails done. The soles of my boots are worn down and the tops have that vintage look hipsters pay up the ass for. I can't bring myself to spend $200 on a pair of shoes, when I know that I can use that towards a plane ticket.
You'll realize that you can get by with a lot less than you actually think you need. Once you get into that mindset, it'll be a lot easier to pass on that hat or jacket for an airplane instead. You just have to give yourself a chance to figure that out. Besides that, a little research and smart planning can get you a long way.
*BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT TRAVELING*
MAKE SURE YOUR PASSPORT IS VALID FOR AT LEAST SIX MONTHS PAST YOUR INTENDED DEPARTURE DATE
SEE IF THE COUNTRY YOU ARE VISITING NEEDS A VISA
What's the point of spending this whole time traveling, if you can't even leave the country? Make sure you are prepared, and double check the validity of your passport. Renewal processes for Americans can take place through the mail from your local post office or in person at a Department of State Passport Agency. Check to see what paperwork you need to travel as well. Brazil is notorious for having a difficult, lengthy and expensive Visa process, so you'll need to be aware of the timelines.
GET A CREDIT CARD
But tread lightly here, DON'T MESS UP YOUR CREDIT.
Yes. I'm seriously telling you to get a good credit card as my first piece of advice.
If you are not good with money, or have a ton of debt then I don't recommend it. If you have a good head on your shoulders, then listen up. A lot of credit cards have great sign up bonuses that include miles or points. With these deals, you can get free flights worth up to $500USD or one roundtrip domestic flight depending on what credit card. There's a minimum that you'll have to spend before getting the points (approx. $1-3K within the first 3 months). If you are good with your money, you can put all the things you'd normally pay with your debit card on your credit card, i.e. rent, bills, groceries etc.. to get these points.
By the time you've hit your spending requirement, you've got yourself a free flight to put towards your travel for spending exactly the same amount of money you would have been spending otherwise. JUST MAKE SURE YOU PAY OFF YOUR CARD IN FULL EVERY MONTH. This will actually help to build your credit, not ruin it. There are people who travel solely by taking advantage of these deals...but be careful here, it's easy to get trigger fingers. I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred and check out thepointsguy.com religiously to read reviews and deals of credit cards. Keep reading below to learn all about my process.
SETTING UP CREDIT CARDS FOR YOUR BENEFIT
I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I'm not sponsored by Chase at all, but I really do love it. No foreign transaction fees, chip enabled, 40,000 pts as a sign up bonus, (like a $500 flight), 2x points for travel AND 20% off travel when booking with points. This means that for every flight, hostel, hotel, ferry ticket, train ticket, bus ticket, restaurant - I get 2x the points.
Depending on what credit card you have, insurance policies are included on new purchases, car rental and trip protection on purchases made on the card. Be sure to read the agreements to see the full benefits.
-Charles Schwab Debit Card + Chase Debit card
-Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
With this, you can get the most for your money and not have to worry about fees adding up, and if you get the right travel credit card you can gain points and use them to travel again. Right now with all my points accumulated from my travels - I'm looking at a $1000 flight. So while you're spending your money - you might as well be making some money right?
There's tons of better versed people and websites than me, I did a lot of research online. There's people who are so good at this they travel entirely using points and miles...so take a look - maybe you'll find something that works better for you.
BE SMART ABOUT WHEN AND WHERE TO TRAVEL
Now that you're building up your flight fund, do a little research into where you would like to go and when is their peak season, then avoid Peak season like the Bubonic Plague. Have you ever been to Rome in the middle of the summer? It's no wonder Dante Alighieri wrote about the seven circles in Hell whilst in Italy. Peak season will just drain you of money, time and patience. There will be crowds, overpriced everything and way too many selfie taking people for even the most patient human being. Instead, look for the weeks directly before or after peak season, or look into another season entirely. You might find that Rome in the fall could be just as appealing. I start off by using Hopper.com to find the best time to buy flights. You can use Hopper's EXPLORE tool which will show you cheap deals from your city. Also be sure to check out airline websites for ongoing deals. Signing up for theflightdeal.com will keep flash deals headed for your inbox, and your wanderlust in check.
For some inspiration, check out some of the countries I've been to by clicking here.
TALK TO FELLOW TRAVELERS
You know that that guy you haven't talked to in two years on your newsfeed that just hiked in Hawaii? Message him, because there is really no better advice than from someone who's been there already! All the best advice I've gotten has been from other travelers, and so I'm always happy to share info. Also ask your friends' friends, I've had people link me up with places to visit off the beaten path, friends to meet and even restaurants to eat in while abroad. Here you'll find out things to do that you would might not have found on Tripadvisor. In my experience, travelers are always happy to help out other travelers.
RETHINKING THE HOTEL
I know you've probably seen the movie "Hostel" and have this conception that hostels are small, filthy pods for dirty backpackers. Hostels have stepped up their game, and the transition is as drastic as Aubrey Graham's metamorphosis to Drake the rapper. If you are looking to travel on a budget, traveling solo or looking to make new friends, then check out the hostel. You can use sites like hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com to see reviews and pictures. There are some amazing hostels that I've been to in my travels and the costs most certainly allowed me to go on more excursions and EAT. MORE. FOOD. Not to mention, that some of my favorite new friends were met while hosteling.
If hostels really aren't your thing, then try airbnb.com. In Europe especially, I would recommend airbnb since sometimes hostels can be as much as a hotel night. Airbnb came in handy when I was traveling with friends and we'd need a home base. After living out of a shared room for weeks, it was so nice to be able to take a shower with out flip flops and use a real towel again.
With hotels, you can also use points on your credit card to get free rooms. If you are loyal to a particular hotel like Marriot for example, you can really rack up the points and score a few free nights. Otherwise try apps like airfarewatchdog.com, orbitz.com, hoteltonight.com etc. to find last minute deals. Either booking way in advance or super last minute might score you the best deals.
There are a handful of options like couch surfing, or staying with a family, but I've never done it so I can't personally speak about these. No matter how much you are trying to save, I always recommend paying a little extra for location. It'll save you trouble and you'll end up paying the difference in cab fares and tears anyway.
DON'T LIVE PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK
Meanwhile, in your day to day life, you'll have to start saving money as well. How else are you gonna pay for that 8 course meal and wine pairing in Argentina? Anyway, while shopping in the AS SEEN ON TV section in CVS one day, someone very wise said to me, "Will you die if you don't buy this? If the answer is no, then put your wallet away." Do you know who that wise yet dramatic person was? It was me! Knowing how to separate your spending into WANTS and NEEDS will prevent you from being frivolous with your money and instead, with a savings account. Goodbye Bacon Wave. Hellooo Nicaragua!
LEARN TO COOK
If you want to impress the opposite sex, same sex, or just your mom cause she doesn't believe you're an adult now, then you should learn how to cook. Once you start traveling, you're going to want to learn how to recreate those sizzling Papas Rellenos from Colombia or that plate of spicy, earthy, Menemen you tried while in Germany. It's also a lot more impressive than ordering Seamless on your phone for your next date, unless you're pulling a Mrs. Doubtfire and pawning it off as your own cooking with a candlelit dinner. In that case, I'd be very impressed.
BUY FOOD IN BULK
Rather than paying $6 each time on a box of your favorite cereal, you could pay $17 for a pack of 4. The same goes with toothpaste or lotions or other staples you always use. You can have these delivered to your place in bulk, Amazon Prime is my favorite for this. An early Saturday delivery will allow for you to A. be there for the package and B. Wake up and start your day! This will also allow you to start to save money on food and shopping. Don't you hate going to CVS for toothpaste and coming out with $100 worth of shampoo instead?
GOING OUT TO EAT...AFFORDABLY
Obviously, hi, you're going to go out to eat with your friends. Instead of going to the newest hot spot, suggest mom and pop shops, ethnic restaurants and places in more residential neighborhoods. In NYC, try Chinatown, Curry Hill, Korea town. Instead of dinner, try for a place with a lunch special or share an entree.
BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH
If you're too lazy to pack a lunch everyday - then just bring some of the groceries (that you ordered online) and leave them in your office fridge. It's very easy to make a salad or sandwich with a few essentials. (A bag of salad, cold cuts, bread, cheese, avocado) And then you can take meal planning pictures like all those Instagram accounts with filters like #fitness #happy #absinthekitchennotthegym #nomnomnom #stopplayingwithyourfoodandjusteatit
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING
Stop. Taking. TaxiCabs. Citibike. Walk. Take the train.
STOP DRINKING OR BUY ALCOHOL IN BULK
Yea, time to suburban mom it up friends. The #1 costs in my spending budgets were drinking and eating out. So here's how you can change that + still have a social life. Buying your alcohol from any of the wholesale shops in NYC - just type a search into google or yelp. From there, you can just reach into your own reservoir for the next time you go over to a friend's place for a gift, pre game or dinner, just make sure you don't start up a drinking habit. This might not be a good idea for everyone. Anyway, this will also allow you to learn more about alcohol, and maybe even have your own bar at home. Maybe you'll even stop ordering PBR's at the bar!
INVEST IN A FLASK
Blame it on the hipster trend, but getting a nice, personalized flask will allow you to take a pick from any of your bulk alcohol + save you those $12-$20 cocktails when going out. (Just don't take this with you to work or your niece's 3rd birthday party)
START A PIGGY BANK - NO, REALLY.
I've been putting my spare change in my piggy bank for the past 3 years. It's almost full. I can't wait to see how much goes into it. I'm thinking it's somewhere in the 2 figure ballpark!
RETHINK YOUR MEMBERSHIPS
Are you paying too much for your gym? Unless you're a huge gym hound + are pretty particular about the type of machines you use, switch to a cheaper gym - I cancelled my $70 a month NYSC membership for a rock climbing one at Brooklyn Boulders which included a gym + rock climbing. Check out BLINK, 24 HOUR FITNESS, DOLPHIN or use your friend's gyms! I also knew a guy who would utilize "Trial" sessions of gyms by going to different locations of the same gym and signing up.
CONSOLIDATE YOUR BILLS
Do you really need cable? How much is your phone bill? Did you really need to get the latest phone? What's wrong with keeping your old phone that still works perfectly fine?
What other techniques do you use? Comment below!