Not having much money to travel doesn’t stop people from wanting to get out of town.
Australian travel blogger Annabel Candy of Get In the Hot Spot, says that travel — visiting new places and seeing new things — is probably one of the most universal life goals. And, she says, you don’t need to have a big budget to make major memories.
You should travel more
Travel is one of the most popular search engine terms — and the more we see the world on TV and movies, or read about it books, or see it on the internet, the more we want to explore this planet earth ourselves.
Yet although many of us want to travel more we don’t. There are so many excuses for not traveling: the expense, the kids and the job are all commonly used to explain to ourselves why we can’t travel right now.
But what’s the point in deferring your dreams? To me, you should be able to follow your dreams even if you do have limited funds, a growing family and/or a demanding career. All you need to do is change your mindset, make travel one of your top priorities, and get on with it.
These are my ideas for 5 ways you can travel more with less.
1. Start local
First, try changing your mindset. The purpose of travel is to see new things and experience new cultures. Many people think that in order to see things they’ve never seen before they need to travel far afield, but that’s not true.
Find out more about your local area — anywhere within a two- or three-hour drive should be fair game for a weekend trip. If you’ve got longer, you can extend your range.
Where to begin? Start by heading to your local library or get on the internet for ideas of things to see and do close to home. There are probably some walks, caves, rivers, lakes, forests or waterfalls that you’ve never visited before but have always wanted to. Pick one and make sure you check it out as soon as possible.
When I lived on the beautiful Waiheke Island in New Zealand, I was amazed by the number of Aucklanders who, upon hearing where I lived, would wistfully say, “What’s it like? I’d love to visit sometime.”
But Waiheke is only a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, so I couldn’t understand why they didn’t just jump on the ferry and check it our for themselves.
Think outside the box. For me, travel isn’t about staying in boutique hotels or luxury spas. Travel is about getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing things you’ve never tried before.
Cheap sleeps include camping and house swapping. If you want to try camping, ask around and see if you can borrow some camping gear. As soon as you do, you’ll be amazed at the number of people who have all the camping equipment but hardly ever use it.
For a couple of nights, all you really need is a tent, bedding, an icebox and a small stove so you can cook pasta or risotto — or forget the cooking part and just grab food to go.
If you don’t want to camp, organize a house swap with friends through out-of-town friends (or try sites like VBRO or Airbnb.) Find someone in an area you’d like to visit and swap away. The added bonus of this is that it will motivate you to clean out your house.
Who needs fancy restaurants? Even eating out at fast food joints will eat into your precious travel budget. With a little advance planning and some basic equipment, you can feed yourself twice a day for a minimal cost.
Here’s how: Take a couple of plastic plates, bowls and beakers with you and buy a picnic knife that comes with a cover so it won’t pierce a hole in your bag.
For breakfast pick up some local seasonal fruit, yogurt and granola bars. I think that one of the healthiest breakfasts is a thin layer of peanut butter on bread, and you can’t get easier than that. You can just buy a plastic jar of peanut butter to carry around with you and pick up fresh bread, chapati, tacos or rolls.
For lunch, fresh bread, tomatoes and cheese or ham are simple, nutritious foods. Eating outside is a real pleasure, and you’ll have more time to explore because you won’t be stuck inside or limited to places with restaurants. If you’re staying in a hotel, ask if they can include breakfast at no extra charge.
When it comes to the evening meal, watch where the locals eat — don’t head straight to the touristy restaurants. Street food can be excellent, and extremely cheap, too.
I ate lots of street food from stalls in India, and never got sick once. In fact, I may be the only person in the entire universe who went to India for three months and put on weight. My secret is to pick stalls that are popular with the locals, watch what they order, and get the same.
There are a lot of big sights, like visiting Disneyland, going up the Eiffel Tower, or touring the Sydney Opera House. But these things tend to be expensive. They’re big ticket items, so limit yourself to one at the most per trip.
Some of the best things have no entry charge, and there are plenty of lesser-known attractions which may be free or low cost, like hanging out at Venice Beach in Los Angeles, visiting Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, or browsing the Paddington markets in Sydney. All fun, interesting, and easy on the budget too.
You get the idea: No matter where you’re going, don’t feel you have to spend big on the main tourist attractions. That’s usually all they are, and you can learn more by hanging out with the locals.
This is my top tip. Too often, a vacation or travel becomes a checklist of things to do. Promise yourself that you’ll stop trying to check things off just for the sake of it.
For example, if you do make it to Paris, then visiting the tourist attractions needn’t be your top priority. You won’t see many French people paying to climb the Eiffel Tower. They’re all sitting in the cafes having a short black coffee (the cheapest option) and people-watching. Or you can join them wandering free of charge around the parks, visiting the local markets, and walking along and over the bridges of the River Seine.
You may not be heading to Paris this trip, but you get the idea. Just travel to get to your destination and then be. Stop rushing, relax, enjoy and see what happens. Travel is all about getting rid of your agenda and going with the flow, allowing a little spontaneity into your life.
That’s it! Don’t delay. Get your calendar out and write in when you’re going away for the weekend.
My next trip is to the hinterland, which features waterfalls and bush walks, and is only about a 90-minute drive from my house. Definitely not something you’d want to do for a day trip with three young kids in the car, so I think we’ll pack the tent, relax and make a weekend of it.
Happy travels, everyone!