Have you saved up a little bit of money for travel but don’t think it’s enough to travel long-term? You can make your money stretch pretty far while traveling if you just know how to do it right. Here are some creative and smart ways to make your travel money last longer so you can travel for longer with less money— some of which I used myself during my year abroad.
Choose to visit inexpensive areas
This is the first tip that I tell anyone who wants to travel long-term but doesn’t have much cash. So many Americans want to travel around Europe, but most countries in Europe are pretty expensive when it comes to accommodation, eating and drinking, and other living expenses.
Choosing areas or continents like southeast Asia, Central America and parts of South America will mean that all of your expenses will be much smaller, keeping your bank account filled up for longer.
Visit destinations that are unique and undiscovered
Ok, so you’ve chosen to explore an area that’s not quite as expensive as say, Europe or Australia, but we can get those costs down even more. When looking at which destinations to visit in the area, keep in mind that not all are created equal. Typically, more popular places to visit, like capital cities, will be more expensive to eat, sleep, and play in. You’ll be able to travel for longer with less money if you go off the beaten path because less discovered spots are usually cheaper to visit.
Keep an eye on the exchange rate
Before finalizing where you’ll go, take a look at the exchange rate. Make sure there aren’t any big fluctuations that might cost you extra cash— or you might get lucky, and the fluctuation might mean big savings for you!
Stay in one place for longer
Planning to experience less places means you won’t get to hit up every single spot on your must-see list, BUT you’ll save lots of cash. Many hostels, hotels and apartment rentals will give you a deal if you stay for more than a few nights, and staying in one spot as opposed to traveling to another destination will save you SO much on transportation— those costs (…or savings!) can really add up.
Pick up odd jobs along the way
Once in a while you might spot a sign asking for help at your hostel or an ad at a cafe asking for an English tutor. Don’t be afraid to take those offers. While you might not find yourself doing the most glamorous things in the world (um… scrubbing toilets anyone?) just keep in mind that for a few hours of work you could extend your trip by a couple of days— or splurge on something you didn’t think you could afford!
Get a working visa
There are a few countries around the world that will grant American students and post-grads working holiday visas. This means you can visit the country for a short period of time (usually up to one year) and will be able to work legally while you’re there.
Looking for the list of countries where Americans can work legally?
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Consider all types of accommodation
There are plenty of options for where you can sleep while you’re traveling long-term. Some options will be cheaper than others depending on where you are, so it’s best to explore all of them before booking. Hostels are nice and cheap, and to make sure that you’re getting the cheapest bed in the place, choose one in the room with the most beds— the bigger the room, the cheaper the bed. When choosing between hostels, you can save even more cash if you choose one with free breakfast, a kitchen available (so you can make yourself lunch and dinner), free towels and sheets, and free wifi. You can also rent a room in an apartment or house through sites like Airbnb. You’ll likely be staying with some locals, which can be fun, but you’ll have more privacy than at a hostel (although you’ll probably pay more). On top of that, you can save money by using the apartment’s kitchen, wifi and washing machine. While hotel rooms are usually the most expensive in the accommodation category, it never hurts to see if there are any deals available in the city that you’re looking to stay in.
Embrace free activities and adventures
Organized activities and tours can be fun but they cost a FORTUNE. No matter where you plan to travel, you’ll definitely be able to find fun ways to explore and experience the destination for free. Go for a hike, relax in a park, walk along the beach, or just wander and create your own tour! If you’re really hoping to see the famous sites, do some research to see if there are city passes available — they usually get you into a bunch of popular museums and include public transportation too, for just one fee.
Walk or rent a bike to get around
Instead of paying for public transportation, why not throw some comfy shoes on and get some exercise by walking everywhere you want to go? Long term travel has a tendency to make you pack on the pounds easily, so your waistline will appreciate the exercise. If walking isn’t realistic, see if you can rent a bike for a few hours or days. Again, you’ll get plenty of exercise, and you’ll most likely pay less for the bike rental than you would for public transportation to all of the sites you want to check out.