Traveling is part of who you are, and a couple of weeks per year isn’t enough for you. You want to spend time on the road, seeing as much of the world as possible.
You already know that traveling for an extended period of time can be a life-changing investment. The kind of thing you have to spend years saving up for.
But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. With a little planning and creativity, you can stretch your budget and have an amazing time, whether you want to stick to one country or visit every continent.
We’ve compiled a list of tricks and hacks for affordable long-term travel.
1. Use travel rewards.
If you travel frequently, consider getting a travel rewards credit card. Many of these cards offer points or miles for every dollar you spend, which you can then redeem for flights, hotel stays, or other travel-related expenses. Just be sure to pay off your balance in full each month to avoid paying interest.
2. Look into budget airlines.
Flights can be a major expense, but there are plenty of ways to save money if you’re willing to be flexible. Just be sure to read the fine print and understand what’s included (and not included) in the price of your ticket.
Consider using a fare comparison site to find the cheapest options. You can also sign up for alerts from budget airlines, as they often have sales and discounts.
Last-minute tickets can be surprisingly affordable, especially If you’re willing to board red-eye flights and opt for smaller airports.
3. Travel during the off-season.
When it comes to saving money, timing is everything!
Traveling during the off-season can often mean cheaper flights, accommodations, and activities. While the weather may not be as ideal, you’ll have a more authentic experience as you’ll be traveling when the destination is less crowded.
4. Choose your destination wisely.
One of the main factors determining the cost of your trip is your destination.
For example, Southeast Asia, Central America, and Eastern Europe are generally considered to be budget-friendly destinations, while Western Europe and North America tend to be more expensive. Big cities and iconic tourist spots are understandably pricier.
Read more: Incredibly cheap destinations to visit across the world.
By doing your research and choosing a less-obvious destination, you can save a lot of money – and you’ll have a unique, less ‘touristy’ experience!
5. Stay in hostels or guesthouses.
Hostels and guesthouses can be a great budget-friendly alternative to hotels. They often have shared dorm rooms as well as private rooms. Alternatively, you can try couchsurfing. Although it’s understandably become less popular during the pandemic, you can still reach out and find locals who’d be willing to open their homes to you. Just make sure you check the reviews before you make a booking.
Finding cheaper accommodations also gives you a chance to meet other travelers and potentially find travel companions or get recommendations on things to do in the area.
Read more: House-sitting, the ultimate long-term travel hack
6. Eat like a local.
Eating out can be expensive, especially in tourist areas.
To save money on food, try to eat like a local. This means avoiding tourist traps and opting for local, family-owned restaurants instead. These establishments often have a wide range of affordable delicacies on offer.
Street food is a great option too, though hygiene can be a concern in some places.
You can also save money by cooking your own meals, especially if you’re staying in a vacation rental or apartment. Try the local ingredients and do your best to expand your culinary horizons. Learning to cook something new can be a better vacation memento than any souvenir.
7. Use public transportation or rent a bike.
Taxis and ride-sharing services are convenient, but they can also be expensive if you’re taking them regularly. Consider using public transportation instead. Not only is it usually cheaper, but it can also be a great way to meet people and see the sights. If you’re staying in one place for an extended period of time, why not buy a monthly bus/metro pass?
If you don’t mind a little exercise, we suggest walking or biking! Bike rentals are easy to find. If you’re not sure where to start, an organized bike tour will show you local sights you might miss out on without a guide.
8. Look for free or cheap activities.
Speaking of tours, there are tons of free or cheap activities to enjoy at any destination.
Do some research and see what’s available in the area you’re visiting. Museums and galleries often have free or discounted days, and many cities offer free walking tours.
If you don’t mind a crowd, local festivals and celebrations are an affordable way to experience local music, dancing, street food, costumes, and more.
9. Consider volunteering.
If you’re willing to exchange your time and skills for a place to stay (and sometimes even meals), look into volunteer work or work exchange programs.
These programs allow you to stay in a destination for an extended period of time while also giving back to the local community. Many hostels, farms, and homestays offer work exchange programs, and you can find opportunities through websites like WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) or Workaway.
Travel is for everybody 🌎
It’s true that traveling on a budget comes with its own set of challenges. You might have to adapt to local customs more quickly than you’re used to, and you’ll give up on certain luxuries. In return, you’ll get an authentic experience you’ll never forget – and you might develop a wanderlust that will never leave you.
Don’t let the fear of high costs hold you back from experiencing all that the world has to offer. Happy travels!