Recently an article was shared about affordable travel to 16 places around the world. I checked it out and saw I’d visited 8 of them…and on the chizzeap! So here’s my $0.02 on what I remember-use what speaks to you. There are lots of great resources out there, so I’ll try to err on the side of brevity.
1. Where you at?! Admittedly, I had the financial advantage of being on the Eastern Hemisphere when I planned both of my backpacking journeys, so the places I wanted to visit were close. But if that’s not your story, this might help…
2. Where you tryna go?! My 2nd backpacking trip was a lil more strategic compared to my first (ask later lol). I looked at a map (upon a good friend’s suggestion) and made a list of all the places I wanted to visit from where I was currently, and planned from East to West (or farthest location to home).
3. How much you willing to spend?! I envisioned what I wanted to spend in total (transport, accomodations, food, tours, etc) and tried to stay within +/-$200 of that. Do what works for you tho!! This was about 2 yrs ago. Research and ask ppl about the costs in those places and put a dollar amount in your head of what you’re realistically willing to spend overall.
4. Can I Afford the Flight Tho?! If you’re coming from the states and plan to go to somewhere like Thailand-the initial flight could be costly (I mean Thailand is far and gas ain’t free) but now you have these sites with glitch fares and stuff! Back in my day, that was rare! lol skyscanner.net helped me out tho…and @racheltravels on IG http://www.racheltravels.com is a great resource, and for the FAMU folk, she’s an alumna!
5. Dope experiences, dope accomodations or both?! That depends on you, know yourself! But if you wanna travel fancy, then stop reading here. I just wasn’t that person, so I can’t speak to that, but I had some hella fly experiences! Y’all saw the pics 😉
6. Can’t knock the hostel! Before 2014, I knew nothing about hostels (think mostly shared resting space w/o some hotel luxuries), but thankfully I didn’t let my ignorance stop me from trying a new thing! As a solo woman traveler, meeting new people and getting helpful suggestions was major in me seeing some world-hostels, provided that for me! Hostelworld.com was a great resource at the time! Super honest, useful reviews, with options and prices that work for most! I’ve stayed in over 10 hostels, home stays, etc. and never had a bad experience…okay except for that one insect bite but hey, it healed 😂!
7. Got a friend where you’ve never been?! Hit em up! Ask if you can stay for a few, help out with groceries or something, be a great house guest, and keep it moving! (I’ve never done couch surfing but I know folk who have and it worked for them).
8. Conserve here, splurge there! If you save on accomodations, you can splurge on the good stuff! Like a great meal, massage, overnight tour, or whatever else speaks to you! But go online (think groupon-esque) in the places you visit, ya might find some deals!
9. Be strategic wit yours! If you’re a solo traveler like I was, try to link up with people (hostels are great for this) to do a group tour or ride share or anything that cuts your costs!! Memba that time I spent the night with a stranger in Chiangmai?! Slept with one eye open 😛, but saved money!
10. Don’t hold it in!! Bathrooms look different in different parts of the world, especially the free ones (yes, some cost minimal amounts, but holding it costs more!) just remember their function, bring your own wipes, sanitizer, and handle ya biz.
11. Life happens. Don’t overplan. Have a plan, but be flexible. Sometimes you gotta get there and navigate as you go, which were some of my best moments.
12. Don’t let the internet scare you!! …So those major attractions like Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat and all that?! Well some you need to book in advance, but for the ones I just mentioned-I made it happen when I got there! Going online beforehand can be pricier and some advice might have you like 😑. So don’t be afraid to make the journey your own!! If I did it solo with no blueprint, you dang sure can make it hap!! Utilize your hostel too!
13. Thailand to Cambodia to Vietnam on the bus?! For the low?! That’s what I did! Bangkok is a major hub! Don’t think about it right now, get there and then do it…’everything you did has already been done!’ And people will help you!!! Humanity exists!
14. Barter much?! I ever tell y’all bout the time when I stayed at this hostel for free in exchange for an English lesson?! And I didn’t seek that out!
15. Be insured! My second go round, I purchased travel insurance. I know how to stay safe, but life…and I wanted to make sure my fam had peace of mind. Costly, but worth it for me.
16. Try not to take cabs! Yes, get on the tuk tuk, motorbike or a unique ride experience but after that, get a map, use ya feet and navigate!
17. Eat local! I mean yes, KFC’s chicken in other countries is real and the menu is different, but have one of those moments, then eat with the people! Authentic and cheap! After all, what are you really there for?!
18. Pack light or it’ll cost ya! You tryna be cute or see some world?! Cuz you can buy cute stuff when ya leave the states😉. Backpacks (tho not a fan) are quite resourceful!
19. Debit or Credit?! Handle bank stuff before you go! You’re grown, you know what to do! But make sure you have cash to exchange when you get to the respective spots! Sometimes the rates outside the airport are better, sometimes.
20. Again, do what speaks to you!! I went to Antelope Canyon with my homegirl instead of Grand Canyon, cuz that’s what spoke to me! My first Navajo reservation (s/o Ken’s tours) and it was probably cheaper!
21.*Bonus-check out reputable volunteer opportunities-a great way to embrace the culture and in exchange, you could get free lodging-I did!