It can be very tough to find cheap ways to travel when you’re in your 20s! Between work, school, children if you have any, saving for other expenses, etc. But by learning the 14 amazing ways to travel for cheap, you can make it possible!
Don’t allow your busy life to get in the way of visiting the places you have dreamt about for years! Budgeting and planning is everything if traveling is something you really WANT to do for yourself. But you do not have to go at it alone, even if you’re traveling solo! Utilize these amazing travel hacks and you WILL get to that destination that you have been wanting to travel to!
Maybe even quicker than you expected!
1. Prioritize your budget (stop wasting your money)
First, it is so important to prioritize your spending the moment you decide that you want to travel! Look at what you have spent your money on this week. Did you do any online shopping? Or spend more than you had planned to at target? Did you go out for drinks or coffee with your friends several times? Look at how many times this week alone!
If you want to save money to travel you have to STOP wasting your money on things you do not need!
Really think about your money and how you are spending it! Stop buying brand name grocery items when they are the same as the store brand. If you go out with your friends try doing an activity that is free or doesn’t cost as much! In your 20s, money can be limited enough as it is! It is essential to save every penny possible if traveling is something you want!
Reduce Unnecessary Spending
If you are spending $100 of your check on clothes or restaurants each week think everything else you could do with that money instead! You could easily take that $100 and book a domestic flight! Or you could put that money away, and keep saving it for a more expensive trip abroad!
Tip: Look at the money you’re spending on the subscriptions that you have each month. Netflix? Hulu? Or any others?
To save extra money, try asking a friend or family member if you can use theirs for a little while instead! Before you know it, you’ll realize just how much you were spending on subscriptions you truly do not need! Saving money for travel, or anything for that matter is tough and requires a great commit! Having the right mindset is key! Just how bad do you want this? You are the only one that can make it happen for yourself!
2. Pass on hotels
Why pay for an expensive hotel room when you barely spend any of your time there anyway?!
I have found that one of the cheapest and safest alternatives is Airbnb! You can rent out somebody’s apartment or their entire house for a fraction of the price!
This is also perfect since most of the houses, condos, and apartments on Airbnb include a full kitchen that you are able to utilize! It will save you money on restaurants when traveling! Also, since most have a fridge and a stove, you can easily cook your own meals or store your home-brought meals in the fridge!
Another great way to save money is by participating in a home exchange program. Just like the movie The Holiday! You can find many sites online but I recommend the website, LoveHomeSwap! With this alternative, you are able to switch houses with another person or family in exchange for free boarding for both of you! And just like Airbnb, staying in a fully-furnished home usually comes with a lot more perks than a hotel!
Plus, it’s so much cheaper!
3. House and pet sit (in exchange for FREE accommodation)
There is this incredible site called TrustedHouseSitters.com where you can sign up to house/pet sit in exchange for FREE lodging! In some cases, the owners of the house may pay you, but in most cases, it’s just a swap for free accommodation if you abide by the responsibilities the homeowners ask of you.
However, the responsibilities asked of you are usually very simple and don’t interfere with your trip too much! Easy tasks such as feeding their pet(s), walking their dog(s), watering plants, keep the house neat, etc.
When signing up for trustedhousesitters.com you can find a bunch of homes in nearly every country and every state! Simply decide where you want to travel to and look up houses in the area that are available for you to house or pet sit!
I found one right in Los Angeles, California when I went there for the spring and it was the best alternative for saving money! I booked a flight to California from Michigan for only $96 dollars one way (I’ll tell you how later on!) and I didn’t have to pay a cent for accommodation when I got there! I plan to use the site for a trip to Hawaii too! How awesome would that be?!
Traveling abroad is expensive enough, save yourself a TON of money, go on your dream vacation, and take care of some really cute animals while you’re at it!
4. Choose “unpopular” travel months
The “unpopular” months are the months that aren’t as busy or don’t consist of a major holiday! Also known as the low season because prices are typically a lot lower.
The lower-priced months are usually:
- Early-Mid January (after New Year and break from school) to early March
- Late April (after Spring Break) to early May
- September (when school starts back up) to October
Research your trips on the money-saving apps that I mention in my next tip below!
They will save you so much money and give you peace of mind that you’re booking the best-priced excursion possible!
5. Money-saving apps
There are a bunch of apps that are designed for making travel so much cheaper and easier for you! Download these apps today and save yourself a ton of money on every trip you plan to book now or in the future!
I LOVE this app so much! It has completely changed the way I book my flights and it’s so easy to use! Remember in Tip #3 when I said I was able to book a one way trip to Los Angeles from Michigan for only $96?? This is how!
Hopper estimates the flight costs flying out of your local airport so and gives you the best time and price to fly! There have been times where I was given the price of a trip, but the app stated to wait a week or so because the cost could go down. And it did go down by $80!
Utilize this app even more by setting travel alerts to your saved destinations, so that the app sends you an alert every time the price drops or if there is a really good deal for any location! Domestic and international!
This is another terrific app for tracking great flight prices and finding the best times to fly. And just like Hopper, they give you the best deals for domestic and international flights! I love this app because you can sort out everything in one place!
Book your flight, hotel (if you use one), car rental, etc. Plan and book your entire trip right in the app! Another reason I love this app is that it is very accommodating towards those who are making multi-stop trips! Search any combination of locations and Skyscanner will make it work!
I know I am a bigger fan of Airbnb’s and the TrustedHouseSitters website, but sometimes trips are last minute! And it can be too late to book an Airbnb or find a home to housesit. Hotel Tonight allows you to book last-minute hotels for incredibly cheap!
This is perfect for spontaneous travelers! Which in most cases, are often people traveling in their 20s! Simply search your area and the app will find you the greatest last-minute deals!
6. Be flexible
Just like how you want to choose a less busy, or “odd” month to travel. The days of the week you plan to take off matter too! This applies for all year round!
According to Skycanner.com, the cheapest day to fly are most likely Tuesdays for ALL destinations.
For example, flights that were normally in the high $600’s round trip dropped to around $603, on average, when departing on a Tuesday! Utilize those money-saving apps like Hopper and Skyscanner as well! They will give you a list of cheaper dates if you choose the “flexible dates” option!
7. Travel as a group
Travel with your friends and save a TON of money!
Not only are they often more fun, but larger group trips are also a lot cheaper! Think of Airbnb for example. Book a house, apartment, or condo on the Airbnb website and divide the total cost by everyone in the group!
When looking at a trip to Bali, we found a gorgeous villa, with 10 beds and a private pool for $250 a night!
As a group of 5 couples, that’s only $25 dollars a couple!
Or only $12.50 a person for a group of 20 friends going on Spring Break in Bali!
Cut costs in half when visiting any place in the world with a group of your best friends or family!
8. EF Ultimate Break Tours (those who are 18-29)
This secret weapon website is amazing for those who are in college or anyone who is of college-age (18-29 years of age)!
I absolutely LOVE EF Ultimate Break!
They make traveling young and on a budget incredibly simple and worry-free!! The tours are crazy affordable and they have great payment plans! So you can slowly pay off your trip months even a year before you go!
They seriously hook you up with everything! A full itinerary, tours & tour guides, plane tickets, hotels, transportation, free breakfast each day, and a beginning welcome dinner!
How It Works:
They have 60+ trips to choose from! Choose any one that suits you or your budget!
Whether you want to eat gelato and spaghetti in Italy, see the Effiel Tower in Paris, or relax on the beaches of Costa Rica! The hardest part about this website is just choosing where to go! In fact, my friend is actually going to Germany next fall for Oktoberfest through this company!! So many exciting and adventurous trips to choose from!
Book your trip with no buyers remorse!
You only have to put down about $150 initially to lock in your spot on the trip. But if you decide you don’t want to go, you can cancel within 48 hours to get a full refund on your $150 deposit!
To make it even better, if you want to change your trip, you have within 99 days before you leave to change the entire location! No worries at all!
Pay over time! You get to choose how and when your money will be withdrawn each month. And it is interest-free!
Whether it is through monthly automatic payments that you set up, referral bonuses, or for possibly for free! If you are in a fraternity or sorority (learn more about each payment method on their page!)
About 60 days before your trip leaves, you’ll get an invite to a private Facebook group for your trip! This includes everyone that also signed up for the same trip that you are going on!
Use this private Facebook group as a chance to virtually meet your fellow travelers!
Take off and arrive at the destination you have been waiting for! You will then meet your Tour Guide Director (who is a local)! They will be with your group for the entire trip to ensure that you have an amazing and life-changing adventure!
9. Fly from a different airport
You can actually find amazing deals sometimes $100-$500 cheaper if you choose a different airport!
For example, the closest airport to me is Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). I found a trip to London, England for around $700 round trip leaving from Detroit. However, the SAME trip was only $400 if I left from the John Glenn Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio!
Sure it’s an extra 2 and a half hours from me, but it was SO WORTH IT when I saw that I could save an extra $300 on the same trip to London! Plus you get an extra little bonus road trip traveling to a lesser-convenient (but cheaper alternative) airport!
Sites That Have Helped Me:
I seriously adore Next Vacay and I still can’t believe not many people know about it!
It is a system, created by Naveen and Shaylee Dittakavi, that automatically searches countless airfare sites so that you can get the best deals without wasting your time! All you have to do is spend $25 annually (just one $25 payment a year) and Next Vacay will send you several daily deals for countless flights!
If there isn’t a particular deal at your local airport, Next Vacay will find the closest airport to you with the best deal possible! That’s how I found a cheaper trip to London!
Similar to Next Vacay. If you go onto the website secretflying.com you will find tons of their latest deals and trending flights!
They automatically show the airports that have the cheapest deals, so you can easily book it with a click of a button! Or you can search your local airport to find the best deals to anywhere in the world! For example, I just saw on their website that a flight departing from Portland Oregon to Honolulu, Hawaii was only $217 round trip! This deal was for dates listed through the entire month of April and May!
10. Work or volunteer abroad
If you’re willing to work in order to travel on a budget it is a great way to travel the world in your 20s! However, I understand that many people may not want to stay in another place long-term.
There are so many options if you are flexible and willing to try new experiences!
One option you could do is work seasonally in another country as a tour director, a camp counselor, nanny, teacher, etc. There is this awesome website called Green Heart Travel where you can gain international work experience while getting paid to travel and live abroad! There are jobs available to teens and adults!
If you have a passion for volunteer work, then that is one of the most rewarding ways to travel! There are several organizations such as the Peace Corps, American Red Cross, Development Agencies, and Projects Abroad who are always looking for volunteers!
If you belong to a church or religious organization, this may be another great way for you to travel by volunteering! So many churches around the world participate in mission trips.
Even look into your college or university to see if they have opportunities available for you to volunteer domestically or internationally!
When volunteering anywhere in the world, it is so important to remember that your purpose for being there is to volunteer and to be a hard, supportive worker! However, if you only choose to volunteer for the sole purpose of traveling and have no passion for the organization, then volunteering abroad may not be the best idea!
11. Study abroad
There are so many colleges and universities that will provide you with transferable credits towards your major!
Of course, there are several things to consider before you decide to study abroad. Check with your current college to see if they offer any study abroad programs that they are involved with! If not, check to see if student loans will cover the overall costs of studying abroad, such as travel and tuition costs.
If your current college doesn’t offer any study abroad programs, you could always go through a third-party provider! There are many companies that work within the education division to help students spend a semester, summer, or year. Regardless of your major or current college!
12. Walk as much as possible
Save yourself a ton of money on taxis or Ubers and walk as much as you can!
This will allow you to experience the culture and pathways around the city in a clearer light! Also, it is a way to burn off an extra calorie you eat throughout the day! From food and alcohol!
Several Other Related Tips:
- Take an Uber or Taxi to a large area that is touristy! That way you only have to spend money on transportation to and from your hotel or Airbnb! After you are dropped off at your desired spot, walk around that area for the remainder of your day! For example, if your hotel is outside of Paris, take an Uber to the Effiel Tower, and then walk around the city and stop at other desired places on foot.
- Rent a car initially. I recently found a website called Turo where you can rent a local person’s car instead of renting from a company! Simply go on the website and enter in the dates and location of your trip. Then search Turo’s vast selection of locally owned cars! The owners typically set their own prices per day, but they’re usually much cheaper than a rental service! Many owners offer delivery as well!
13. Always pack your own snacks/meals
Every time I travel, anywhere, I always pack an abundance of snacks. Enough to last me the entire trip! This tip saves me so much money on airport food costs, and on restaurant costs during my trip!
Personally, I like to bring an entire box of protein bars (24 bars typically) and store that in my checked bag. I also keep one or two on hand in case I need it while waiting or while flying.
Easy snacks/meals you can bring to save money: (that are allowed on planes)
- Trail Mix or Mixed Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, etc.)
- Granola or Protein Bars
- Dried Fruit
- Cooked Meats
- Bagged Vegetables
- Hummus (3 ounces)
- Cheese (wrapped)
Food must go through the airport security X-ray machine, and you CANNOT bring food to the security checkpoint that is unwrapped or not in a container.
All foods must be wrapped or in a container unless it is unpeeled or unbitten fruit. Half-eaten fruits are allowed but they MUST be wrapped! This includes everything else that doesn’t come in an original bag or container!
Extra Tip To Save Money:
Try visiting the local grocery store or market when you get to your destination! This will be especially easy if you’re flying domestically! That will save you a TON of money in the long run!
Related Post: How to Avoid Gaining Weight on Vacation
14. Have your destination budget pre-planned
Between your plane ticket, food, souvenirs, room and board costs, tours, extra excursions, etc. the price of your trip will quickly start to add up! It essential to have a budget plan for your trip before you leave!
This plan will help you determine what you strictly want to experience during your trip! And just how much you want to get take away from your trip!
Just how I mentioned above, plan to not eat out as often! If you do eat out, only spend your money the food you have been wanting to try! Of course, it is important to experience the culture, but you shouldn’t put a huge fraction of your money towards it!
While on your trip, visit the local grocery store and buy cheaper items that could last you longer than one night at a restaurant! Instead, let your meals come from the food that you either brought or bought! That way you can prepare them yourself or grab easily for on-the-go! Or if you stay at a hotel, take advantage of the free breakfast that most hotels serve! It is one less meal to spend your money on!
Budget your trip as wisely as possible! Such as utilizing any free tours, walking as much as you can, being open to flexible dates, etc!
I hope these ideas help you as you plan your next getaway!
Do you have any secret, cheap travel hacks that you use every time you travel?
I would LOVE to hear about them!