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“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” –Anthony Bourdain
Your twenties are an exciting time of life. You have very little financial and personal responsibilities. While many people say you should wait for retirement to travel, I think traveling in your twenties is the best decision you can make. You might as well do it while you are physically fit, single, and young. And traveling offers many cultural educational experiences that can help develop you as a person (making you a better leader and employee). But the biggest barrier I hear from my friends about traveling is MONEY. I have been traveling full time for a year now, and it has been surprisingly affordable. I do not have big savings built, and I do not have a high paying job, so if I can do it you most definitely can. Here are 20 ways to travel cheap in your 20’s:
1. Stay in Youth Hostels
Hostels, yuck I know. Fortunately, there are several more luxurious hostels that you can go to for on the cheap. When checking for a hostel, make sure it has a kitchen so you can cook for yourself. Use Hostel World to find the best deals for your accommodation. This is by far one of the cheapest ways to travel. Rule of thumb: never stay at a hostel with less than an 8 rating. I like Hostel World to reserve my stay, check it out here.
Related Resource: How to meet people during your solo-travel trip.
2. To Go Away, try Workaway
Workaway is a platform that you sign up for where you offer your services (usually hospitality-based) in exchange for accommodation. This is a great opportunity to work in places that you would not otherwise travel to. Make sure that the job is something you are genuinely interested in. It would suck to be a coffee barista if you don’t like to engage with other people.
3. Become an Au-Pair
Becoming an au-pair means you are a nanny abroad. Au-pair is an excellent platform where you can get paired with a family you connect well with. In exchange for babysitting services; you get to live with the family, take language courses, and even get a small spending stipend. MAKE SURE YOU LOVE KIDS before you take a job like this. Or else it could be incredibly exhausting.
4. House Sit for Some Furry Friends
If looking over youngsters is not your thing, try pet sitting in exchange for free accommodation. On trusted house sitters, you can set up a portfolio and search for house opportunities. You do have to pay a small annual fee, but this makes the platform a lot more credible.
5. Stick to Cheap Destinations
Instead of traveling to America and central Europe, I recommend people travel to: Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, or South America. You can save so much money in these countries while living comfortably. I make sure that each country I travel to will fit my budget.
Related resource: Best (and cheap) places to Travel Alone as a Female
6. Have a Home-Stay Experience
Not only is this usually a very cheap option, but having a home-stay experience can give you a local’s perspective. Some countries such as Bali are more into this concept than others. But if you love to see a country the way local’s do, this is a great option to look into.
7. Try a Working-Holiday Visa
Several countries offer working holiday visas. However, this is completely dependent on your nationality. I know for USA citizens, you can obtain a working holiday visa in Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, and Ireland. This is a very good option for solo travelers because you get to meet other locals and foreigners through work. And make a bit of cash on the side. Cha-Ching!
8. Teach English Abroad
This is a very popular option for native English speakers. The truth is, English is a very international language. Most English speakers are not even native. Therefore, learning from a native speaker is highly sought out. If you are a native English speaker, the opportunities to teach your mother tongue are endless. Take advantage of them.
9. Eat Local
Eating local is drastically cheaper than eating at touristic spots. Try to follow the line and see where natives are eating. Anyways, these places also happen to be more authentic and delicious. So take the beaten-down path and find these gems— you get more of a homey experience that won’t break your wallet.
10. Fly Off-Season
By far the most expensive part about travel is finding cheap flights. If you have the opportunity to fly off-season, DO IT! You can easily save hundreds of dollars by just traveling offseason. I got a round trip ticket to Europe for $500 USD by traveling during the wintertime.
11. Take Public Transportation
STOP TAKING TAXIS! Take public transportation as much as you can. It saves tons of money and gives you a local experience. If it is a late-night and a taxi is the only option, be safe and take that. Never walk home alone late at night.
Related Resource: Ten Solo Travel Tips
12. Take Advantage of Youth Travel Agencies
Nowadays with how much more affordable traveling has gotten, youth travel agencies are on the rise. My favorite one is STA or Start the Adventure. They offer amazing discounts from flights, to hotels and everything in between. Check out STA’s deals here.
13. Purchase an ISIC card
An ISIC card can also be purchased through STA, however, they are two different companies. An ISIC card or an international student identification card makes you internationally recognized as a student traveler. You can score discounts at many museums and restaurants with this card. If you are a student, definitely take advantage of this nifty card. Click here to purchase your ISIC card.
Related Resource: Budget hacks for student travelers
14. Make your Tours
Tour guides are so overrated. Pop open your phone to Wikipedia or a city-guide website and go on your self-built tour. I have found that searching information myself means I retain city facts much better than from a guide. Oh not to forget, it is completely free and flexible.
15. Become an Airbnb Host
If you are traveling long term and have an apartment back home, why not rent it out through Airbnb? This is a smart way to make money, instead of losing it. A lot of people feel a little nervous about this, but with Airbnb, you are ensured that if anything goes wrong, it will be fixed. To become an Airbnb host use this link here.
Click here to become an Airbnb host.
16. Travel in AirBnb’s by MONTH
The secret sauce to saving big time on Airbnb is to rent out an Airbnb by the MONTH. You can save up to 60% by renting monthly versus weekly. Not to mention, traveling longer is much cheaper over time. Adapting a “travel lifestyle” mentality over a “vacation” one will save you a lot of bucks.
For $40 off of your first AirBNB and $15 off of an Airbnb experience click here.
17. Work or Intern While Traveling
Working or interning while traveling gives you a professional experience alongside cultural immersion. Seeing how the work culture in another country operates, gives you the ability to become a more well-rounded employee. And on the financial side, you can usually make a bit of money. It’s a win.
I teach English online and love it. For more information check out this blog post.
18. Go Study Abroad
Studying abroad while you are a student is the best way to travel. A combination of traveling and education is such an invaluable experience to have. See what study abroad programs your university or institution has to offer.
19. Try Couch Surfing
This is a completely free way of getting accommodation. Although it can be competitive if you get to snag a good couch to sleep on, it can come with your very own local tour guide. I advise using extra precaution when sleeping in stranger’s homes though.
20. Find FREE Walking Tours
These are booming in places like Europe! Although they are technically not free, since tipping is customary. They still come out to be very cheap and educational. If you want to learn more about the city you are in, check out the free tours that are available.
I hope this encouraged you that if you want to travel, you really can do it. Don’t let finances hold you back. If flight tickets are too expensive and you cannot afford the time, then travel domestically. Start small and get bigger. We have our whole lives in front of us to buckle down and get serious.
Download your FREE budget guide printable here.
Some Related Helpful Resources:
Here is how I traveled Europe for a month under $2500. Use this FREE itinerary as your guideline.
HELL YEAH, THIS PAGE MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS DOES NOT COST YOU ANYTHING EXTRA. I POST THINGS I LOVE AND IF YOU BUY IT, I CAN HELP TO MAKE FUN AND COOL CONTENT FROM A COFFEE SHOP. GOOD DEAL.