BY YASIR ALHUMAIDAN | PHOTO BY YASIR ALHUMAIDAN
Many people dream of traveling but don’t do it. If you ask them why they don’t travel, the answers most common are they either don’t have vacation time from work or traveling is too expensive.
Traveling is very cheerful, educational and adventurous, but it can be costly. Often times, my friends ask me how can I afford traveling, and my answer is; I have learned to travel cheap and turn dreams into reality.
A couple of years ago, a friend named Enrico visited me in Madison from Italy. He left his home in Rome with only 50 Euros, but by working a little while he traveled, Enrico was able to afford tickets to fly to Chicago three months later. His plan was to go to Mexico after visiting the U.S. using the residual money that he made working at a bar, club, and circus during his travel. Obviously, not many people have the time to travel for long periods of time, but even traveling for a short time can be affordable.
The most expensive part of traveling is flying. But don’t worry, there are some tips and tricks when it comes to buying flight tickets. Some websites showcase very cheap tickets, but the majority of these websites do not give you tips. The best website to find tickets when traveling on a budget is Google Flights. This is a search engine that facilitates the purchase of airline tickets through third party suppliers. It is very easy to use and recommends days to fly based on flight prices.
Flying is expensive, but hotels can be a burden and possibly unaffordable as well. This is one of the secrets that Enrico shared on how he could afford traveling for months at a time. He recommended staying with a friend, but hostels are great if you don’t know anyone in the area you are visiting. Not only are hostels cheap, but you can meet people from all over the globe who are traveling on a budget like you. Safety is the only concern when it comes to sleeping with more than ten people in the same room, but that’s what locks are for. Carrying a small lock with you while traveling is a very good idea. That brings us to the next tip, never ever travel with something valuable, such as laptop, unless it is necessary. It is one less thing you have to worry about while you travel.
Meeting people in hostels is great, but the goal of traveling is to meet locals and learn about the culture of the city and country. Befriending locals will make your trip more pleasurable. They are the ones who will give you tips about where to visit, travel, and eat in their city and might even invite you to their homes. In a situation like that, trust your guts and don’t go with anyone who makes you suspicious. Meeting locals might be the hardest part of traveling, especially if visiting a different country. Bars are the best place when it comes to meeting local people, just don’t be a creep!
Avoiding taxis and taking the public transportation is the best way to get around, but sometimes it is hard to know when to get on and off of public transportation. Using old fashioned maps is the easiest way to navigate. You can also ask anyone on the street because chances are they know how to get there too. Sometimes you will be impelled to take a cab, in that situation you have to do your homework ahead of time. In some places cabs do not use metered fare, which makes it hard to know if you are about to get ripped off or not. If the majority of cabs are not using metered fare, bargaining is what you want to do. Don’t be shy. Under no circumstances should you tell the driver that you are visiting for the first time. This will tell the cab driver that you are new to the area and they will jack up the prices.
Knowing the currency of the country is a smart step towards saving. Not only is the price conversion good to know, but also what the currency looks like. I learned the hard way when the cab driver gave me back worthless Ukrainian money instead of Georgian money.
If you are traveling abroad, you are lucky because you are not obligated to tip. This includes everything: bars, restaurants, taxis, etc. Just one more way to save your money.
It is very important to look at the menus before ordering, especially in bars, to avoid getting ripped off. Also, remember what you order, because some places switch menus. Trying authentic street food is a great way to eat because you are going to get the biggest bang for your buck. Remember, you don’t have to tip!
Visiting attractions are essential to seeing the history and culture of the area you are visiting. Plan ahead of time to make sure the place worth it. TripAdvisor is a great place to find free attractions.
The most important tip: Enjoy your trip.