7 min read
20 Jun
3 Essential Tips For Traveling On A Budget

Have you ever dreamed of seeing the world? Maybe just your own country? Have you looked longingly at travel guides, read travel blogs and watched shows on travel channels and thought, "Man, I wish I could do that..."

If so, I want to tell you right now that it's easier than you'd think.

So, why don't more people travel? The truth is, most people don't know how to do it efficiently and affordably, so they opt to not go.

I'll tell you right now, it breaks my heart when people tell me that they haven't been outside of a fifty-mile radius, or that they've only gone to visit their grandma in Florida (not even the exciting part of Florida...).

The thing is, you (yes YOU) can travel all over the United States and even the world on a budget. That's right, you can finally see all those cool things you've wanted to see, go to those amazing restaurants and experience all of that amazing culture while not breaking the bank.

There are a few travel secrets that most vagabonds don't want you to know about.


Because they have been kept a secret in order to keep demand down and prices low. The way of travel I am going to teach you is something that I'm going to ask you to keep to yourself. It can fundamentally change your life...but only if everything stays as affordable as it is now.

In this article, I am going to give you three tips that will fundamentally change the way you think about travel. These tips are the things that most travelers don't want you to know, and they can take you from being someone who's never left their hometown to a travel expert.

If you have wanderlust and you're ready to get out there and see the world, keep reading!

Before we jump into these amazing tips, though, I want to remind you to read the newsletter. There, you will find some NEXT LEVEL travel and lifestyle tips that will change the way that you see the world and the possibilities for the life that you could be living.

Why Travel?

Before we jump into the tips, I want to take a moment and discuss why I travel, why other people travel and why YOU should consider traveling. I'm doing this mainly for people who are on the fence about traveling, or who don't understand what all the benefits are.

Even if you've gone on vacation somewhere before, you may not fully understand the concept of "travelling." There is a core difference between taking a vacation and actually being a traveler.

The easiest way to see the difference is to as the question, "Why travel?" Your motives will determine if you are ready for an adventure, or if you just want to go to a vacation resort and sit on a private beach.

So, why travel? Well...

It Opens You Up to New Cultures

If you aren't used to backpacking through Europe, going to a Muay Thai fight in Thailand or going fishing in the Florida Keys, you may not be accustomed to the many different aspects of culture that most people miss while going on vacation.

While it may seem nice to tan on a beach or go skiing in the mountains, there is so much more to different countries and even different states and regions than this. There are entire cultures and ways of living life that you'll miss out on if you don't open your horizons.

Traveling allows you to experience these cultures in a new and unique way. You'll be able to see how other people live, and how starkly it contrasts with the ways that you are accustomed to.

You will also find similarities, but you will see them from a new perspective. When you return to your homeland and your culture, you'll take a piece of the foreign culture that you experienced with you, which is priceless.

Culture is really one of the most fascinating and beautiful things about travel. Don't get me wrong, landscapes are great, but experiencing people interacting in ways you would never dream of is mind-altering and beyond exciting.

You Get to Try New Things

I never understood why people would go to Japan and spend their entire trip inside of a McDonald's, drinking Coke and scarfing down Big Macs.

The whole point of going somewhere else is to BE somewhere else. If you are going to another part of your country or the world and all you want to see is what you are used to, don't even bother getting on a plane.

There are so many exciting traditions, foods, drinks and other cultural elements that travel allows you to experience. You'll get to try things you've never even heard of before, or you may get to try something you've had, but never had the authentic version of.

Have you ever had authentic Puerto Rican mofongo? Have you ever had fresh gator pulled out of the lake? Have you ever had dumpling from a restaurant in China? These are life experiences that you won't want to miss.

Your palette will open up with your mind, and both of which will thank you.

You'll also get to try a variety of different teas, sodas, cocktails and other drinks that you may have never even considered, let alone heard of. You get to drink what the locals drink, and you get to really experience a new culture with your taste buds and your stomach.

You will also learn a host of foreign customs and traditions that will challenge your perspective and the way that you engage with other people. Some cultures are more strict, some are very easy-going. Some are heavily focused on respect, others on openness. Each culture has a variety of characteristics, mannerisms and etiquette that you'll get to experience first-hand. Not to mention all the cool languages, accents and dialects!

Okay, enough with selling you on travel. I know why you're reading this...and it's for the amazing tips. Well, here we go...

Tip #1: Lodging for Free or Cheap

One of the biggest concern people have with travel is where they are going to stay.

Once again, people think that travel involves hotels and resorts, or maybe on the lower end motels. In reality, there is a whole world of different lodging options that vary on your comfort level, your budget and how adventurous you are willing to be.

Before we get into these, I want you to know that I've stayed in a vast amount of different lodging situations...from five-star hotels to people's couches and floors. Do you know what I found? They all have their benefits.

Since you already know about hotels, lounges and motels, and because they generally aren't cheap, we are going to skip by those.

You are going to learn to lodge like a real traveler. Get ready!

Air bnb

By now, you may have seen commercials for this service. Well, back in my day, Air bnb was still a secret. Now, not so much.

Still, it is an extremely popular alternative to hotels for a great reason. Air bnb allows you to stay somewhere local. And when I mean local, I mean in someone's home!

Just like a traditional B & B, Air bnb allows customers to stay with locals in a variety of different ways. People rent out everything from a couch, to a spare bedroom, to an entire apartment!

Obviously, the prices reflect the area that you will be staying in, but the other great thing about Air bnb is that the prices aren't set for every user across the board. This means that two places that seem identical (like two spare rooms in Lakeview in Chicago) may be vastly different prices.

If you keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground, you may be able to find an amazing place to stay for half the price of a hotel.

Air bnb also has an elaborate rating system, allowing you to see a variety of different aspects of the place that you are staying, like cleanliness and value.

House rules and amenities are also listed, so they don't come as a surprise to you. You'll want to know ahead of time if you'd be sharing a bathroom or if they don't have internet (what weirdos...).

Another great thing about Air bnb is that it is worldwide. This means that most places that you want to travel will have something available. Yay!


For those who are a little more adventurous and want to save even more money, there's Couchsurfing.org.

Okay, so here's the thing...Couchsurfing.org is COMPLETELY FREE. That's right, free. But there are certain expectations, less of a vetting process and it's completely at your own risk.

The thing is, most couch surfers are involved in couch surfing because they want to meet new people and experience new cultures. This goes both ways—for hosts and guests. The whole point is that the host is proud of their city, so they want to show someone around and the guest is open to new experiences.

Does this mean that you can't just go and be by yourself? Sure, you can. But, don't expect people to want to host you or give you stellar reviews.

Couchsurfing.org is run completely on a review-based system. The only downside to this is that there are only three options: positive, negative and neutral. You are able to discuss your experience as well, but that's as far as it goes.

Because of this, it's important to read the reviews and the profiles before you crash with someone. I've stayed with a variety of different people, all with different beliefs, habits and expectations. If you aren't able to live up to them, they always have the option of booting you out.

Once again, you aren't paying, so there's no refund if you're a jerk and get thrown out.

Couchsurfing.org is for the serious traveler. If you really want to get involved in a culture and see the place you are traveling from the local's point of view, couch surfing is the way to go!


Somewhere between Air bnb and Motels are hostels. You may have heard of them (probably unfavorably because of certain movies). Contrary to what horror movies tell you, they're actually pretty nice.

Hostels are very different from one hostel to the next, but you can definitely rely on two things: they will be cheap and there will be other travelers there.

One of the best parts of hostels is the community areas in which you can speak with other travelers about their experience with the city, where to go and where they're from. Who knows? Maybe you'll make some new friends and explore the city with them!

Hostels can be either single room or communal, depending on the hostel and the price you are willing to pay. if you want privacy, you may have to pay a little extra.

Also, some hostels don't have locks on the doors, but may have lockers. No matter what the situation is, make sure your belongings are in a safe place. Because of the openness of hostels, people may come and hang out with other travelers and steal your stuff, or even your fellow travelers may get sticky fingers.

I don't want this to scare you off. I do want you to be prepared, though. I want to make sure you keep your things safe, so they don't go missing. That sucks.

Overall, though, hostels are a great way to save money, meet other travelers and open yourself up to new experiences.


Camping is generally one of the cheapest options, because most campsites are free. Still, you'll have to buy or rent gear, so keep that in mind.

Honestly, I wouldn't recommend camping for long-term traveling, but if you want to go check out a cool forest and spend some time surrounding by nature, camping is a great option.

There's nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, waking up to birds chirping and hearing the only true silence and stillness you are likely to ever hear.

If you live in a rural area, this may be more familiar. If you live in the suburbs, you may find some peace and quiet. If you live in the city, quiet is probably a foreign concept to you. No matter where you live though, there's just something different about being in the middle of nowhere.

Keep in mind, unless you rent an RV, camping isn't going to be the most comfortable experience in the world. You'll have to sleep on dirt, deal with bugs and possible even have to deal with wild animals.

Your safety isn't guaranteed, but then again, when is it?

Staying with Friends and Family

Well, here. Your safety is pretty much guaranteed.

I don't want to spend a lot of time dwelling on staying with friends and family because it is pretty obvious. Still, I want to remind you that it is an option.

Even if you haven't seen that friend or family member in a while, it is still nice to see them again and reconnect. More people you know would be willing to host you than you'd think, even if you haven't seen them since high school. That's the cool thing about social media...it keeps us connected!

Well, now that you know where to stay, let's jump into something that is equally important...how to get there.

Tip #2: Affordable Travel

Exploring a new place is only fun if you can get there!

Outside of lodging, this is one of the most common complaints that I hear about travel, and what keeps most people from doing it. Plane tickets can be very expensive, and mixed with somewhere to stay...well, it all becomes unaffordable.

Guess what? There's a section in this article about affordable travel, so there IS a way to get around without breaking the bank...and I'm going to tell you how.

This could fundamentally change the way you travel. You're welcome in advanced.


Not a fan of busses? Well, move on to the next section and lose out on a TON of savings!

While busses obviously can't take you overseas, they can get you around the United States, Europe and Canada. That's right, even if you are traveling overseas, you can still use this amazing bus service to get around the country that you are in!

So, what is so amazing about it? It's just a bus, right?

Well, yes, it's a bus, but it can also be the most affordable way to travel...if you plan in advanced.

You see, Megabus starts their tickets at $1. That's right...$1! But it only stays at that price for a little bit. Then, as the demand rises, so do the prices. So, if you want to go on a trip, you'll have to see if that date is open yet, and see how much it costs.

If it isn't available yet, check the site every day. You may get lucky and get one of those first, super cheap tickets!

Even if you aren't there on the ground floor, the tickets still aren't too bad. I usually pay less than $75 round trip for ten-hour bus rides. Throw on a few extra bucks (usually less than $5) and you can get the premium seats by the front window or at a table. How fancy.

They have electrical outlets, so you can plug in your phone or device and keep from getting bored. They also have very limited wi-fi.

All in all, it's a cheap way to get around. Sure, it takes a bit longer, but you save a TON of money!

Pro tip: Take your bus overnight. You can sleep the whole way.

Frontier/Spirit Airlines

No, they aren't the same airline. But the point is the same, either way.

Both Frontier and Spirit have become extremely popular due to their amazingly low rates for travel to some of the coolest locations.

Actually, Frontier often runs a deal for $15 tickets! Sure, it's each way, but that's still only $30! I'm not just talking about somewhere boring, either. They have flights to Chicago, Miami, Denver and more!

The thing about these airlines and prices is that they open up on certain days. If you buy them early enough and on the days that the flights are available, you save a lot of money. The only downside is that you may need a pretty open schedule to make sure you are available when something opens up.

Road Tripping

Here's to keeping it old school!

There's nothing like a good old-fashioned road trip with some of your close friends. You'll be able to split the gas, have someone to travel with and cherish memories that you'll have for a lifetime.

I've never met someone who went on a serious road trip and didn't come back with some cool stories. There's something about getting out there and hitting the open road that makes you feel free, and really enjoy your country. The views can be amazing, and there are plenty of opportunities for different pit stops.

You could go with a definite plan and timeframe in mind, or you could just wing it. Either way, you can have an amazing and affordable adventure.

Tip #3: When in Rome... (Ask the Locals)

The last tip is going to be a shorter one, but also one that I think is extremely important. If you want to be a true traveler, a real vagabond, you need to not only enjoy the culture, but become involved!

Not only will you save money by sticking with the locals, but you'll also get more deeply imbedded in their culture than you would have ever imagined. Even if you are still in your own country, there are so many cool local spots to explore, and so many different spots that you never would have found on your own.

For this section, we are going to get into doing as the locals do, and really experiencing a city for what it is supposed to be, not just what the tourist traps want you to think it is.

Before we jump in, though, I want to remind you that this is only going to happen if you reach out to people and make connections. The easiest way is through Couchsurfing.org, Air bnb or staying at hostels, but you can also meet people at local places and ask around for the coolest places to go.

Part of being a traveler is putting fear aside and really jumping in feet first. You'll need to be brave if you want to forge the memories that you'll never forget.


Eat What the Locals Eat

Remember the Big Mac I mentioned earlier? Yeah, don't be that guy...

Part of visiting a place is the local food culture. While you may be somewhere that's known for a specific type of food (Memphis BBQ, Chicago deep dish, etc.), you may not always be able to trust travel guides for where to find the best and most authentic food.

Also, while it's cool to try the cuisine that the area is known for, there may also be other local restaurants that are out of this world, but don't serve the cliché food that the particular city is known for.

Food culture has taken over in a lot of different cities, which means exciting new restaurants where you would least expect them. You may find the best tacos you've ever had in Wisconsin! It's unlikely, but who knows?

You'll also want to dig a little deeper, especially in foreign countries, to see what real people eat. Not everyone is going to eat their state or national dishes all the time, especially if they are expensive.

How often do you think Chicagoans eat deep dish? It's probably less than you'd imagine.

Besides eating where the locals eat, you should also...

Go to the Local's Favorite Bars and Hangouts

Speaking of Chicago, have you ever been to HQ? It's a bar-cade where all the games are free! I bet you haven't heard of it before, though...

There are so many cool bars, activities and hangout spots all over the country, and you might just miss them if you don't ask around.

Cities have different celebrations all over the world, and it's there that you will see their history, their pride and their culture the most. For instance, there is a celebration in Providence, Rhode Island called WaterFire, where they have bonfires in the middle of the river, living statues, decorations and music!

If you aren't a local, there's a good chance you've never heard of it, but it's an experience that you wouldn't want to miss!

These types of festivals go on all over the world, all the time. It's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and knowing when these events are going on.

There may also be local activities that people enjoy that are off the beaten path. For instance, you could go hunting or mudding in the south. You could catch a local music show in Nashville, with amazing bands you've never heard of. You could catch a killer house party in a college town.

The possibilities are endless, as are the different experiences that you can have.

Travel Is More Than Taking a Break

To me, travel is a hobby. It isn't just a way to escape life, but actually a way to better live it. Travel has allowed me to learn more about myself, my community and the world around me better than anything else.

I am able to learn about different cultures, and I am able to take those amazing cultures home with me. I've learned about new traditions, new activities and new cuisines that I would have never tried before.

I have tried local drinks; I have gone to local parties and I have met some of the best friends I have now while doing all of these amazing things.

To travel, to really travel, is to open yourself up to the world. Instead of being a local, you are able to be a world citizen. You are able to be an ambassador for the country of YOU, and your culture and customs are able to evolve as you go from place to place.

Find an amazing place to stay, find an affordable way to get there and open your ears to the locals. Hit the spots that they tell you to hit, go to their events and hang out with them. Ask questions. Get to know them.

It doesn't matter if it's one state over or a world away. There is always something new to learn from people who've had different experiences than you and have grown up somewhere different.

Learn, grow, evolve and keep your feet moving. Let your wanderlust grow and become a true vagabond!

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