1. Build your savings. The ability to save money in order to travel cannot be under-emphasized! This is the most common attribute I’ve come across talking to other travelers in the 100+ countries I've been to!!! There is definitely a direct correlation in people’s ability to save money that allows them to actually get out there and travel! It's not about being wealthy enough to travel, just have enough to buy your ticket and a little spending money to go.
Saving more could involve cutting down expenses or taking an additional part-time job specifically to make money for travel. I use a separate bank account to put my ‘travel money’ and only accessed it for travel or an absolute emergency. I worked extra jobs, cut down expenses, delivered pizzas and cleaned offices at night to help build up my travel savings.
Once you get in the habit of saving money specifically for travel, you are close to making your dream trips come true. You have to have some money to travel (perhaps less than you think.) Keep reading to find out why or jump ahead to number 7.
2. Choose destinations where your money goes a lot further. Many people think of budget travel as backpacking, dorm beds or camping; while these can get you around more expensive destinations like Western Europe on the cheap, why not consider Eastern Europe or even Central or South American destinations? There are expensive destinations in the Caribbean and much more budget friendly islands as well. Want to stay in decent hotels for $20 or less? There are many countries that offer affordable travel.
3. Be flexible. If you are not totally set on going to one specific place, do some research will show you more budget-friendly destinations. Don't need a hotel room? Backpackers can be a great place to meet other travelers and offer reasonably priced shared-accommodation or private rooms. Traveling with a family? Why not try AirBnB or HomeAway, which often have lower rates than hotels or even hostels, especially for families and larger groups.
4. Research, Research, Research. Read up on the places you want to visit to get an idea of costs, how long you would like to stay and what there is to see. Guidebooks like Lonely Planet and Let’s Go do a great job of providing background information, history, activities, food, accommodation and costs for your destinations. These are great to have as a reference while traveling, or even get in PDF format for your tablet.
5. Try not to travel in peak season. Professionals in the travel industry know about the Peak season (highest prices and fewest deals), Shoulder season (good prices and more deals) and off-season (lowest prices). There are usually reasons for 'low' or off-season prices such as weather, hurricane season, monsoons, etc.
6. Find the best deals on airfare. This is usually one of the largest travel expenses for your trip. See what budget airlines fly near you. Norwegian was recently offering flights from the US to Europe for as low as $65 each way and they fly from the US to Caribbean for as low as $59 as well. If you save hundreds on airfare, you can better afford to travel longer or don't need to save as much for your adventure. Search at least a few sites to make sure you are getting the best deal possible: Kayak, Cheapoair and Skyscanner are a few of my favorites. I book through budget airlines whenever possible.
Just get out there! Build up your savings and confidence to buy the ticket. Do your homework so you know roughly how much the trip will cost, how long you can stay and keep airfare costs down. Reading up on your destination will make you more knowledgeable and prepared to explore the world. You will probably feel a mix of emotions when booking your ticket; mostly excitement. It's amazing how motivated a future trip can keep you when your flight is already booked. My best advice is to use these tips to just get out there and experience the world.