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How to Travel When You're Broke



More and more people are deciding to spend their money on life experiences instead of things. Everyone is downsizing and setting out on adventures. If it seems like you’re missing out because you simply can’t afford to go on vacations the way your Facebook friends do, think again. It’s all about priorities. Here’s how to travel when you’re broke.


Free up your funds
The first step to any travel when you’re totally broke, is to look at ways to cut back on any superfluous spending whatsoever and to start saving all the money you can. You may think you’re living paycheck to paycheck, but there are likely ways you can consolidate debts, pay less for car insurance, switch to a lesser phone plan, and cut the cord with your cable provider. Can you stop subscription services for a while? Clip coupons, use reward programs, and shop sales. Have a garage sale and head to eBay. How badly do you want to travel? Consider drastic measures like selling or refinancing your vehicle, getting a roommate, and getting a second (or third) job.

Planes, trains and automobiles
When you decide where you want to go, compare the costs of every possible mode of transportation before you assume you know the cheapest way to go. For example, in a random search of trips from Chicago to Boston in mid-May, I found round-trip prices of $119 by plane, $198 by bus, and $180 by train (and this did not include taxes, fees, or baggage). Consider also that the longer it takes you to get there, the more time you’ll have to take off from work. Calculate the missed wages figure (if any) into the total cost of your trip before you decide.


Pay less for lodging
You’ll pay more for a room if you wing it, so plan ahead. Compare prices of area hotels, motels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and be sure to check out AirBnB before settling on an option. Look for promo codes and find out if any of your credit cards offer discounts at specific locations. Cash in rewards, flash your AAA card, and look into whether or not you’re eligible for a discount through your employer. The best option yet: find a friend or family member to stay with and pay them half the price you would for a hotel room. (You can’t be a complete free-loader, after all.)

Spend less on food
While you want to try the local faire on vacay, you don’t want to blow your hard-earned savings entirely on food. Eat at home and avoid paying inflated airport prices for food. If you’re hitting the road, pack a cooler and bring plenty of snacks. The biggest waste of money on vacation is spent on bottled water, so bring a reusable bottle or bring H2O from home.  Once you get to your location, shop in markets and grocery stores as often as possible, in lieu of dining out. The food will be less expensive and you’ll get more of it. It’s especially smart to book a room with a mini-fridge and microwave for this purpose.

Annmarie John
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