So you just booked your first International flight and you’re thinking “what now?” Or maybe you’re a veteran traveler who is looking to save some money and travel backpacker style. Below are 5 mistakes I’ve made, and tips for traveling on a budget.
- Paying for a hotel
- Hostels are not scary. If you’ve lived in a dorm, you can handle a hostel. The biggest downside is sharing your space. The biggest upside is sharing your space! You’ll meet other travelers who are potential new friends.
- Airbnb is your friend. You can rent anything from a whole apartment to a couch. You’ll have an opportunity to stay in areas you probably couldn’t afford a hotel in, and chances are it’s nicer. The hosts usually put more effort into making you feel at home than a hotel would. I’ve stayed in whole apartments and private rooms in someone else’s home. I’ll admit, staying with a stranger sounds pretty sketchy, but it’s not as weird as it sounds.
- Couchsurfing. It’s not a service I’ve tried yet, but I know other people have and have had success with it. If you’re nervous about staying with strangers, you aren’t alone but the site verifies both surfers and those sharing their couch. The best part? It’s FREE. You aren’t allowed to offer or accept payment.
- Paying $1000s for a flight to Europe
- I flew to Poland in 2014 and I booked a flight through regular* means. It cost me $1200 round trip and included a 12 hour overnight layover. In October of 2015 I flew to Denmark. I booked through Wow air and paid about $600 round trip (yeah, that’s HALF price). I booked both flights about the same distance out (6-8 weeks). One downside to Wow is that they aren’t in many airports in the US yet (I flew out of DC), but they’re all over Europe. Also, flights within Europe are super cheap ($99-200) so getting across the ocean is the most expensive part.
- Another airline offering cheap transatlantic flights is Norwegian Airlines. With Norwegian** you can fly from JFK to Oslo for about $400 (booking 5 weeks out). (Look for future posts specifically about flights!)
- Checking a bag
- Checking a bag usually costs extra. You do not need that much stuff. I traveled with someone on study abroad who brought framed photographs for a 4 week trip. Don’t take stuff you don’t need. I haven’t checked a bag in years and I don’t miss it. (Keep an eye on my blog for a full post with packing hacks!)
- Not having appropriate converters/surge protectors
- When I went to the UK in 2006 (pre-smart phones) I didn’t have appropriate converter/surge protectors. This meant my hair dryer just didn’t work! Make sure you look into everything you’ll need for your specific destination.
- Buying an international phone plan
- Find free WiFi and use Skype, WhatsApp, or Facebook messenger. You aren’t traveling abroad to spend all your time talking to folks back home.
- If you really NEED a phone for some reason, buy a cheap burner phone when you arrive.
There are so many things you can do to make your travel experiences cheaper and more efficient. If you liked these tips, keep an eye on my blog for more in-depth posts regarding flights, packing, and more.
Have any good travel hacks of your own? Share them in the comments below. If you liked this post, share it on Facebook and follow my blog for more content like this.
*I flew JetBlue, then Lot airlines on my trip to Poland. I had good experiences with both airlines, however, there are cheaper flights out there!
**I have flown Norwegian within Europe, but have not traveled from the US to Europe on a Norwegian flight.