So, you’re always looking for ways to travel overseas without forking over your life savings? While there is still a whole world out there to explore, I have personally managed to travel through Europe and Africa in college on a part-time paycheck. Obviously, a frugal lifestyle and a strict budget are in order, but there are a few practical tips for cheap overseas travel I have discovered along the way.
Travel in the off-season. Depending on location, most overseas travel has a peak season, and airline tickets will almost always be a little pricey. When you travel just prior to or just following the peak season, ticket prices will be dramatically reduced.
Find a friend who has flight miles and invite him or her to go along. Okay, so it might be a little tricky to convince someone to split the price of the second ticket, but you will find that some people are willing to compromise for the sake of good company along the journey.
Stay at hostels or independently owned hotels. This is not only affordable, but opting for dorm-style accommodations often promises a more interesting stay. Hostels are scattered all throughout the world, and they are a perfect answer to a shoe-string budget.
Get a youth hostel membership card. You can inquire about these memberships at your local travel agency. It may take up to three months to receive your card once you sign up, but holding this card can afford you deeper discounts at the already cheap hostels, as well as give you discounts in train travel.
Find others who have been to your destination and pick their brains. Find out what to expect for budgeting purposes and see if they have any useful suggestions for your trip. Believe it or not, it is possible to spend as little as $30 per day on food and comfortable lodging in Europe.
Choose to visit places where you know people. If you have a friend or acquaintance who lives in the area you are traveling to, find out which tourist traps to avoid. Visiting the places the locals frequent will often prove less expensive, and you will leave with a more authentic experience of the culture.
Do research on your destination. Often times people will travel without familiarizing themselves with their destination, the lodging and the activities. If you are not an educated traveler, you will end up paying more than you should.
Talk to several different travel agents that specialize in international travel. It’s likely that one of them will find a great deal on airfare that will leave the others in the dust.
Buy food for meals at the local grocery stores or from small kiosks. Eat the basics for most meals and only splurge from time to time. While you need to be concerned about the cleanliness of food in certain countries, most small places off the beaten path in Europe are safe, cheap and full of fabulous flavor.
Be willing to have an adventure. There is so much to experience out there that isn’t posh and doesn’t have the comforts of home. But if you want the comforts of home, either dish out the cash or stay home.
Money may buy you luxury, but a tight budget and a little ingenuity will almost always provide a better story to tell when you get home.
For additional travel tips and to learn more about hostels and independent hotels, the Let’s Go books, published by Griffin Trade Paperback and available in all major bookstores, are invaluable resources.