Written By Ami Defesche
Cure Your Wanderlust: 5 Ways to Travel Without Breaking The Bank
Personally, I have a chronic and incurable case of wanderlust. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, always wanting to see somewhere new, try something different, experience a new culture, and find a new adventure. But, there’s only one issue with that. It’s an expensive case to cure. Plane tickets, accommodations, eating out, it all adds up to—more than I usually have in my bank account.
So, I’ve had to get creative on those plentiful occasions when there’s a travel itch I just can’t scratch:
1. Take a Day Trip
You don’t have to jump on a plane or cross an ocean to feed the travel bug. Here in Texas, there are three cities within a few hours of mine, and elsewhere in the country it’s even easier to get somewhere new, even another state. Hop in the car, grab some road snacks, and pick a direction. You’d be surprised what a change of scenery can do, even if it’s nearby. Then, you don’t have to pay for accommodations. Just adventure for the day and when you’re tuckered out, hop in the car and head home. Pro Tip: You might want to take a partner in crime, to share the driving.
2. Take to Two Wheels (or on foot!)
View your surroundings from a different perspective. Dust off the bike that’s been hanging out in the garage for god knows how long, or rent one for the day (there is probably a local bike store that rents them near you) and go hit up a biker-friendly area of your town. When you’re so used to driving around a city in a vehicle, you get used to what you can see from the roads going 40 mph. It’s surprisingly limiting. See what little nooks and crannies of your city you can get into on a bike, and what unassuming little places you see that you never noticed before. If you’re up for the distance, take your bike out to the countryside and just enjoy the natural views. So zen.
3. Stay with a Friend
Have you been meaning to rekindle with that old friend that moved away? That college buddy you’ve always wanted to pay a visit? Staying with an out-of-town friend has two great benefits. One, free accommodations. Two, you’ve got yourself a friendly and knowledgeable local guide. And, depending on your friend, you may even be able to save on outings by going dutch and sharing the costs. Spend a few days together, see a new place and nurture a friendship all at the same time.
4. Make the Place the Adventure
Thanks to sites like airbnb.com and homeaway.com it’s getting easier and easier to find some really luxurious places for less than luxurious prices. Gather a group of friends and split the cost of an over-the-top fantastic place to stay. Look for places with pools, huge kitchens, you know—the works. Have everyone bring food and drink to share and plan for a party, or one crazy girls/guys night in. Split among a large enough group, the price can be more than manageable and you get to live the high life for a night or two in a place you may have never been able to afford on any regular trip.
5. Weave it Into Your Day Job
Check online to find conferences or events that are relevant to your day job and pitch a trip to your boss. Many companies will be thrilled that you took the initiative to find a way to hone your skills, and in your down time you’ll be in a new place ripe for exploring. If your company agrees, they’re likely to cover some if not all of your expenses. If you’re lucky, they may even throw in a per diem to take care of food and entertainment. Essentially—it’s a free trip with a little work thrown in. Plus, no conference is complete without networking and parties, you’ll get a chance to travel, party and make new friends all at the same time.
So, traveling doesn’t always have to mean throwing money at airlines and sleeping in hotel rooms. In fact, sometimes the budget-friendly travels will reap even more reward than a typical tourist trip. There’s so much excitement in the little surprises.