Vacation Fabulously When You're Broke
What would you do if you won the lottery?
A lot of people say they’d travel the world. But here’s the thing: You don’t have to win the jackpot to travel somewhere exotic, relax, and take suntanning selfies to make your friends jealous. That’s good news for the 81% of millennials who say they’d rather blow their budget on traveling instead of saving for retirement. If you want to vacation fabulously when you’re flat broke, follow these tips.
1. Change Your Mindset
A lot of us wake up and think, “I’m too poor to travel.” Mindset is powerful. If you approach your dreams and see them as unattainable, you’ll miss out on the opportunities right in front of you. Sure, there might be constraints and limitations. We aren’t talking about fairytales and manifesting unicorns and rainbows. But recognize that yes — you can see the world without being rich. Once you accept that, you’ll be more open to creative problem-solving to get you where you want to go.
2. Be a Local Tourist
Let’s be honest, Google sees and knows everything. In a recent study of search trends, the search engine giant reports that staycations are one of the hottest trends of the year. You'd be shocked how many exciting tourist attractions are near you, from national parks to hidden lakes to amazing views from atop mountain trails. Be open to allowing your home state to surprise and delight you.
3. Think of Alternative Hotspots
For every expensive exotic destination, there’s a cousin that offers the same experience for less money. Plus, the experience can often be more authentic and less touristy. For example, if you’re set on going to Mexico, consider heading to Guatemala instead (the beaches are even better). Or if you want the European delights of Paris, visit Budapest. Or if you love the sights and sounds of Brazil, cross the border and hang out in Bolivia. You’ll save a ton of money by skipping the more popular destinations, and you’ll have better stories to tell.
4. Book Strategically
There are dozens of apps and programs out there that can help you snag a deal, like Google Flights and Hipmunk. In general, you'll save the most money if you book a getaway at the very last minute, or as far in advance as possible. And here's a secret: avoid booking a flight on a weekend. Flights are almost always cheaper on weekday afternoons and evenings, and especially so on Tuesdays.
5. Save (Or Make) Money Off Your Accommodations
A hotel will quickly destroy any money you saved by booking a cheap flight, but there’s ways around that. Avoid staying in the expensive tourist districts and consider renting a room or house from a local through VRBO, AirBNB or the many other rental platforms out there. For a truly authentic experience and a way to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars, consider house sitting or house swapping. Your accommodations will either be free or you’ll even make some cash.
And if you’re wanting an extended getaway, try your hand at working overseas. There are dozens of options, from being an au pair to working on a cruise ship to helping out at a hostel. Most of these jobs don't require a lot of experience, and while they won't make you rich, they'll often pay enough to cover the cost of your adventure.
6. Eat Cheap
Your food expenses can be significant if you don't plan strategically. Pack lightweight, healthy snacks from home (Complete Cookies make the perfect travel snacks!) to avoid buying expensive food in restaurants. Also, eat where the locals eat, whether it's street food in Thailand or sausages from a farm in Sweden. In most restaurants, lunch specials are the cheapest meal of the day. If you're going to eat out, head out around noon instead of going out for dinner. Finally, consider getting a tourist card. For example, the VisitOslo tourist pass can save you up to 50% on meals at specific restaurants in Norway.
Where Will Life Take You?
As you can see, you don’t need to get lucky in a Vegas casino to afford a fabulous vacation. By choosing the right location, cutting costs, and traveling strategically, you can see the world while still seeing some savings in your bank account.