I LOVE to travel. One of my top 5 things to do is travel and see new places. I think it’s built into my DNA and my curiosity to see the world gets the best of me. We have been all over the United States as far south as South America and as far north as Canada. I have even been to India in my travels. Nonetheless, there is still many many places that I still want to visit on my bucket list. If you are looking to travel on a budget, don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to spend thousands to travel.
Here are some great ways to score some high value experiences even on a low budget.
Couch Surfing is Free
So over the last number of years, there have been an increase of sites on line like CouchSurfing.com, where you can search an area of the world for people willing to host you for a night in their home. They get to meet someone new and you get a warm place to sleep. Sign up and create a profile. They will ask you to verify your email, phone and postal address to make sure you are legit and not a crazy person. At that point, just point in a direction and see who in that area is willing to host. Connect up with them and agree on a date that you will be stopping by. Don’t forget my 5 simple rules for couch surfing. Simple as that.
Hostels are a great option
Since my Dad has retired, he has been traveling all over the country. His favorite ways to get around is either by hiking or biking. Along the way they plan out their trips and they stay in very affordable hostels overnight. Some of these stays can be less than $20 a night and if your hiking they can be right along the trail.
A great site to check out to see if there is a hostel near where you need to stay on your next trip is Hostels.com. On this site, you can locate the hostel and book before you trip even starts. I as looking at one in Philadelphia that even had a foosball table at your disposal. The cost for a night stay was $22.95. Given the small accommodations, you generally get to meet others that happen to be staying as well as shown in the picture here.
Make Money While Traveling
If you are the type that dreams about traveling longer term, perhaps you could take up work that allows you to work remotely. You could do freelance writing or become a virtual assistant. Perhaps even start a business selling products or run a web site, like a blog. If you can find a way to make a living virtually, then you don’t need to be tied to one specific location.
At the very least it could be side money to save up for the next vacation.
Work for an airline as a pilot or a flight attendant.
Although, this would personally get old to me after awhile, it is certainly one way to travel and get paid to do it. The other perk that you get for working with the airlines is that you can get discounts on flights all around the world.
Credit Card Rewards
With the right credit card in your pocket, you can bank some serious travel benefits and discounts. Learn how we took our family of 5 to Walt Disney World and our accommodations were completely Free. In the article I talk about how our Marriott card gave us enough points to stay at a Marriott hotel at Disney for 10 days absolutely free of charge.
Become a Housesitter
Just wait until you learn about this option. Pet and home owners around the world are looking for you to house sit for their pets. Do I get paid? No, but you could score yourself a really nice place to stay for free while you take good care of the family pet. Take a trip over to Trusted Housesitters and see what is popping up in the area of the world that you would like to travel to next.
Not only do you get to spend some time with a new pet, but you also get to meet some great people along the way. Your offer your time for free to care for their pets, and you get a place to stay for free.
Airbnb could be a budget travel alternative
I have wrote about Airbnb in the past, but it’s a great place to find budget friendly and unique accomodations around the world. Best of all, if you sign up you get a $35 credit right out of the gate. Don’t settle for your boring hotel room this time around, as they state on their site, they have over 1,400 listings for castles around the world. Who is up for staying in a castle on your next trip?!? Airbnb is available in over 65,000 cities around the world and your next unique experience is awaiting you.
Hotel Loyalty Cards
This one is great if you do a lot of traveling with the same hotel chain. When I started to travel for work back in 2001, I went to New York City and stayed at a Marriott in Time Square. Wow what an amazing experience, but when I checked in they handed me my first loyalty card and I have to say it worked. I have since stayed at hundreds and hundreds of Marriott’s over the years for one because Marriott hotels are pretty nice, but two they were the first ones to give me a loyalty card. Anyways, I now have a Marriott credit card too so they have won me over in my books.
Anyways, for every stay that you complete with the hotel, points accumulate on your loyalty card. For as little as 7,500 points at Marriott, you can get a completely free night stay. As mentioned above, we stayed completely free at Marriott in Walt Disney World for 10 days in 2016 on loyalty points. Don’t stay at another hotel again unless you have one of these.
Here is a listing of the best travel loyalty programs, as ranked by US News & World Report.
Ask for a Discount
As the saying goes “It doesn’t hurt to ask”, this is a for sure way to earn a few extra dollars off your night stay and it has worked many times with me. Hotels have many different rates behind the scenes. The initial rate they give you is a factor of many different variables and mind you there may be a discount available if you just ask. Ask how much the room is and then after they tell you ask them if there are any particular discounts available on that rate. Depending on how many rooms they have filled that night and who you are talking to (Managers are the best), they may offer you a lower rate. If you have a AAA or a member of the military or retired, then all the better.
Travel is Seasonal
No matter where you go in the world, there is always a off season where you can score a serious deal if you are willing toe sacrifice some things. For example, cruising is always cheaper when the kids are in school or if you are in a hurricane zone. Now you may say Drew, are you seriously telling me to book a cruise in the middle of hurricane season? Sure I am. Here’s the thing. Hurricanes don’t happen every day and when they do they slow moving weather patterns that you can see from satellites no matter where you are in the world.
To make the story short, these captains on these ships know when a hurricane is in their path and they navigate far away from them before you would even know what happened. These massive cruise ships have weather systems that they constantly monitor to make sure they steer their ship far away from anything that may impact the trip.
So if you are willing to sacrafice the potential of missing a port of call or a little more choppy waters than normal, then you could try this option. We booked a 7 night cruise in October a few years back and for 5 people it cost a total of $2000. This included the room, all the you can eat food on board and tip. If you break it down that’s $57 a day per person. Where in this world can you eat 3 times a day with steak and lobster in the evening for just $57.
What are some of your ideas on budget or free travel?