There’s nothing quite like adventuring around the world in your 20’s. Not only are responsibilities at a minimum, but your body is young and your mind is open.
However, travel isn’t exactly cheap, and it’s definitely not always easy. That’s why I’m here — to help you see the world one t(r)ip at a time.
How Do You Afford To Travel Often?
Credit Cards: This tip is only for those who know they’re 100% financially responsible. If you struggle paying your regular bills on time or if you’re already swimming in credit card debt — skip this one.
Most major airlines have a rewards credit card that allows you to rack up miles not only from flying but from eating at certain restaurants and shopping at specific stores. The trick is to sign up when they’re having a special, such as, “Spend $3,000 in your first 3 months get 60,000 miles.” This way you don’t have to wait so long or spend so much to amass enough miles to actually GO somewhere. Personally, I have both Delta’s and American Airline’s cards and have saved up enough miles for 3 round-trip domestic tickets (in just 6 months!)
Other key points: look for a card with $0 annual fee and no hidden charges. READ. THE. FINE. PRINT.
Side Gig: Do you have a talent someone would pay money to use? Such as writing, graphic design, landscaping, or snow removal? Get hustling in your spare time and put that extra cash in your travel jar. You’d be surprised how quickly it’ll add up when you’re not spending it on other things. Which leads me to my next tip…
BUDGET: This is just a good life tip in general. If you don’t already have a monthly budget I suggest sitting down to write one today. Simply peeking at your mobile banking app every few weeks to make sure you’re not totally broke isn’t enough. You need to know how much money you’ve got coming in and how much is going out, and to where.
Once you’ve got your budget written out — stick to it. Make a specific section for travel and decide exactly how much each month you can put toward it. Make that amount non-negotiable. If you decide on $100 per month but at the end of the month you want just ONE last manicure, girlfriend, you’ve got to stick to the plan. Remind yourself how badly you want to get out and see the world and a set of fake nails doesn’t even come close to the happiness you’ll feel with your toes in a sandy beach somewhere.
For more money tips check out this blog.
Travel Buddies: Traveling is cheaper (usually) when you go with a group. This way you can split gas (if you’re road tripping) and the price of a hotel/Airbnb. Plus, nothing brings people closer together than traveling.
Booking Sites: This is a tricky one. Sites like Kayak and Travelocity are great for booking trips because they show you tons of options. However, just like Instagram and Facebook, it seems these sites follow an algorithm. I’m not 100% positive what it is… but check prices on multiple devices (phone & laptop) and at different times of the day before settling on a ticket or hotel.
Alternate Flights: If you’re a seasoned traveler you know that airports can be hectic and travel plans can easily be disrupted by a delayed or cancelled flight. That’s why it’s always smart to research other flights going to your destination PRIOR to showing up. This way you can avoid getting the last flight out of town and potentially being stuck overnight. It also helps expedite the process of jumping on an alternate flight if there’s one available.
Seat Maps: Most mobile flying apps have the option to change seats. I like to check the seat map the night before or day of my trip and see if there are any empty seats in better areas (closer to the front, exit row, etc.). Sometimes they cost a few extra bucks but lots of times they’re free. Plus, a few rows forward on an extremely busy plane can mean the difference between making your connecting flight and sprinting like a wild woman through the airport.
Carry On Necessities: I try not to check a bag whenever possible, which means I’m living out of my backpack or carry on luggage. I’ve become a pro at tight-packing and have compiled a basic list of necessities:
- Gum: no brainer.
- Hand sanitizer: airports and airplanes are covered in disgusting germs…
- Makeup wipes or body wipes: ever notice how icky your face feels after a long flight?
- Deodorant: another no brainer.
- Dry shampoo: ladies — this one is for you. Dry shampoo is a total lifesaver.
- Lotion: airplane air is extremely dry — your skin will thank you.
- Earphones: nothing worse than having to listen to the dull buzz of the plane for 6 hours.
- Chargers: make sure you’ve got all your necessary chargers readily available. For some reason phones like to die at the most inopportune times — like when you’re attempting to swiftly load the airline mobile app while sprinting around looking for your next gate…
- Extra sweatshirt : great for when the temp changes from 85 to 65 AND a great makeshift pillow.
- Tylenol: headaches anyone?
- Snacks: sure, the airline provides munchies, but it’s always a relief when you’ve got your own food on hand. Plus, you can be in charge of what you’re putting in your body and not feel sluggish from 1 too many packets of pretzels.
Snacks: I am a snacker by nature and nothing makes me hungrier than a day full of traveling. At the same time, nothing makes my stomach turn more than the price of airport food. So I like to fill my bag with a few good-for-you snackaroos and save a couple bucks. My favorites:
- Protein bars — my favorites
- Nuts and seeds
- Cheese sticks
Keep Moving: Flying all day can really mess with your back and hips. While you wait for your flight do some light stretching and walk as much as you can. Not only will this keep circulation running efficiently but it will help to prevent kinks later on.
Also, don’t be afraid to get out of your seat every once in a while and walk down the aisle of the plane. Try to stand up at least once an hour for a couple of minutes. Remaining sedentary for much longer than that has been shown to have harmful health effects.
Once You’re There
SPLURGE: This is one that took me forever to actually grasp on to. If you’ve saved up and planned hard for a trip, you deserve it! Allow yourself to splurge a little bit while you’re there. Order that drink. Get the filet mignon. Pick the nicer tour through the ruins. Skip the frozen pizza and go to a nice sit down Italian place. Schedule a massage on the beach. This is your time to be selfish and suck out all the best parts of your trip. You’ve earned it, so enjoy it!
Grocery Shop: If your living arrangements allow, grocery shopping can be an incredibly easy way to both save money and eat a little healthier while you’re on vaca. Stick to the essentials: breakfast food (eggs & cereal), snacks (bars, yogurts, fruit), and drinks (waters, sports drinks, alcohol).
Get Uncomfy: When you’re in an entirely new place it can already feel uncomfortable. However, I encourage you to take it a step further. Talk to locals and really get to know them. Ask them where the best lunch spots are and find out if there are any hidden gems you can’t miss. Give an excursion a shot and do something scary, like skydiving or cliff jumping. Get lost and find yourself.
No Phones: OK, I’m not telling you to get rid of your phone entirely, that would be silly and unsafe. I’m suggesting a “no phones hour” once a day where everyone on the trip leaves their phones behind (or on silent) and just enjoys each other. No texts, no social media, no photographs. Just you, your people, and the beautiful world around you. You’d be surprised how great it feels to be truly present.
Health and Fitness
Think Outside the Box: If your hotel or hostel or Airbnb doesn’t have a gym — don’t freak out. Vacation doesn’t have to be about making it to the gym every day. It’s an awesome time to shift how you think about fitness and exercise. For example, if it’s a beautiful night out and dinner isn’t too far away — walk instead of drive. Or, wake up early and walk the beach while the sunrises. Jump in the pool and swim around. Go out dancing. Just keep moving and grooving — the gym will be there when you get home.
Eating Out: If you’re like me, your stomach can only handle so much restaurant food. However, sometimes it’s your only option. In this case do your best to stick to the basics of what works for you without freaking out about it. For instance, if you’d typically eat a turkey burger and chopped sweet potatoes, maybe choose a burger with veggies or sweet potato fries. There are always ways to make eating out a little better:
- Grilled or baked instead of fried
- Ask that your food not be cooked in butter or heavy oils
- Avoid the pre-dinner bread
- Skip dessert
But remember, if you want to throw caution to the wind and say “screw it” to the above guidelines, that’s totally cool too!!!
Skin: WEAR. SUNSCREEN.
Hopefully some of these tips and tricks will help you see the world a little bit cheaper and without so many bumps.
Where is your next vacation spot? Drop it below in the comments.