Travel Planning: How to plan a Trip on a Budget

As a working millennial who makes it their mission to travel, I have heard every excuse from people of my generation on why they “can’t travel”. In terms of obligations such as being a caretaker/parent for a family member (s) or having other extreme cases, you people get a pass.

However, for the folks complaining that they aren’t earning enough (“I barely make enough to buy new shoes) or scared to get out there (“I heard about someone getting robbed there”). Those excuses do not pass the mark. Most people are able to travel if its something they really want. Here are some advice from an avid traveler working on minimum wage.

First, let me state that traveling has become more affordable with budget airlines and accommodations popping up on the Internet. There is definitely much more information shared for travelers now because of the amazing World Wide Web: the best deals, activities to do, research on cultural highlights, or safety concerns. With all of this shared knowledge, its impossible to not start planning a trip. Also, Instagram pictures are making it a little hard to not want to see these wonders.

So here are some steps you can take in planning your trip on a budget. Please note that there are extreme ways to travel on a strict budget but these steps take account of time, safety, health, and cleanliness. Safe travels!

Budget

The most stressful and difficult is finding a way to finance your trip. You don’t have to empty your savings account or take a loan but hustling is a key factor in finding what your budget looks like. See how much you can save from your paycheck, try cooking cheap meals instead of eating out, or see if there are small time gigs you can take on for side money (babysitting or teach English online). Try to find a doable number that you can reach within the time you book anything for your trip.

Destination

Have an idea of where you want to go. Think of the country, continent, or maybe even what kind of environment (city, island, or jungle). Then do some research on websites like Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor.

Once you have an idea, see what the costs of transportation look like.

Mode of Transportation

If its international trip, then checks out prices for flights on websites like Skyscanner, Kayak, or Google Flights. These specific sites are special because you can find the cheapest flights, what season is the cheapest time to visit, or find the cheapest destinations from your departing airport (type in “everywhere” for where you want to go).

If it’s a destination that’s possible to reach by land. Find out the routes and calculate the prices for renting a car or the cost of petrol. There are also other options such as trains or buses. You can get all this information simply by searching on Google or Yahoo.

Activities

One of the most important and often forgotten things people forget while planning trips is whether the destination is worth seeing. Besides historical sites that are often posted online, find out what kind of activities you can partake while visiting. Activities can include: Night Bazaars, hiking trails, wineries, extreme sports, and etc. Trip Advisor and travel blogs are your best bet to see what adventures you can find at your destination. Some activities may require payment while others are free. It’s important to note this while deciding if the trip is doable.

Seasons to Go

When thinking of a destination and the time you are planning to visit, make sure the weather is decent for travel before buying your ticket. Places like Quebec during winter sound beautiful covered in snow, but it wouldn’t be possible to see anything if they are prone to snowstorms in December. Be realistic with what kind of weather conditions you can endure. Based on what activities you want to do, see if the weather will allow it before buying that ticket.

Safety + Security

Unfortunately, a lot is happening in the world. It’s important to look up recent news or check with your embassy/tourism board to see if the destination is safe and what advice they may have for places/activities to avoid. A good example is the October 2017 funeral for Thailand’s beloved former Monarch. Tourism Boards are warning visitors to wear black during this time as citizens mourn heavily. It’s never too much to be safe. Better to be careful than sorry.

Health

Before departing for your vacation, make sure to check online or with the CDC and what health risks/ requirements are needed to travel. Some countries have problems with health risks such as malaria or typhoid, ask your physician for assistance in avoiding any of these health risks.

Visa

Once you have done all your research and have your destination in mind or bought your airplane/train ticket. Here comes the political part of traveling, specifically abroad to another country.

Every country has a requirement to allow you, a tourist, to enter. Make sure to look up online on there government website what these requirements are. Some have Visa on Arrival, which means you just arrive at the airport where you will receive a tourist visa that will give you a limited amount of days to travel. Other countries require much more work beforehand, applying through the embassy or a travel agency to assist in getting the tourist visa. Keep in mind the different visa requirements flying or driving into the country. Also, do some research online on country restrictions, such as Canada’s restriction on American’s who have DUI (has to get Canada’s government approval before arriving).

One of the worst feelings is to be stopped at the border or at the airport for not having your visa. So make sure you do all the requirements beforehand.

Accommodations

One of the most difficult and fun things to do is to find the accommodations for your stay. If you are going to a touristy place, it will be a sure bet you will have many options for stay. Make sure to read reviews and look at pictures to get an idea of how your accommodations will look and where it’s located (near or far by the touristy stuff).
Good websites to book through include: Tripadvisor, Airbnb, Hostel.com, Bookings.com, and Trivago.

Options are:

  • Hotels, 3-5 stars, costing the most while traveling. However, you will receive decent service and assistance during your trip.
  • Guesthouses, 3-5 stars, the costs will depend on how nice of a place you would like. Guesthouses are pretty much nice hotels set in a small setting. Typically more homey and quaint.
  • Motels, 1-3 stars, one of the cheapest costs while traveling. Often times, please note that some of the most suspicious activities occur at these accommodations.
  • Backpackers/ Hostels, 1-3 stars. You can book a shared dorm with other travelers or book a private space. It most likely won’t have little shampoo or towels waiting for you, but it’s a nice atmosphere if you want to be on a cheap budget and meet other travelers.
  • Airbnb, 3-5 stars. Something that’s trendy is booking on Airbnb where you can rent someone’s home (shared, private, or the entire home) for whatever price your budget. The reviews give a good idea of what kind of pros and cons to staying with Airbnb. Hosts are typically very kind and flexible.

Getting Around There

Once you have booked and planned your destination, how to get there, visa, accommodation, and activities; now is the time to figure how to get around. Look online at reviews or travel blogs. Ask your accommodations for assistance on safety and how to get around the area or to certain locations. Typical modes of transport while traveling if you don’t have a car are: subway, bus, biking, getting a taxi (uber is almost in every major city), or simply walking.
If traveling by plane, most airports are far away from the main area of traveling so always make sure to plan how to get to your accommodations and back to the airport. Usually, most accommodations offer assistance in figuring out how to navigate this part so rest assured.

Be Flexible and have a Blast!

You are finally ready to go so get ready to have the time of your life. You’ve planned everything and anything can happen while traveling. Just be happy that you’ve done all you can beforehand and now its time to be flexible with whatever may happen and enjoy yourself.

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