Yes, travel can be expensive. No, I do not let that stop me. I have worked hard to figure out how to avoid spending money and going broke to experience the things I enjoy. If money is your excuse for not doing something, you better start looking for new excuses.
In additional to what I have done, I know lots of people who have created many fun and unique fundraising events for trips from volunteering in Mexico for a week to moving to Africa for four years. No matter the duration of your trip, friends and family often get excited about helping you achieve your goals.
1) Let your parents pay. Yes, this sounds like a cop-out, and I am fully aware that not everyone’s parents can afford to pay for their plane tickets, etc. All I am saying is that if/when the opportunity for them to buy you a ticket someone, do not hesitate to turn it down. For example, my parents are not very big on traveling, but whenever they go to Hawaii, I make sure and weasel a ticket out of them as well.
2) Complain. I definitely do not condone taking advantage of people or companies, but that does not mean there are not situations that warrant voicing your opinion. My most recent trip to Hawaii was to surprise my family for Thanksgiving. I was flying solo and the flight got delayed overnight after hours of waiting ON THE PLANE. Needless to say I was frustrated and unhappy about wasting an entire day and eventually ending up fly alone on Thanksgiving Day. So yes, I complained. I got angry. And I ended up getting free flight, which I guess made it worth it.
3) Work in the travel industry. One benefit of my job is excellent hotel discounts.Many of the most popular hotel brands offer wonderful discounts to their associates for more accessible trips. And I certainly make it a point to take FULL advantage of this benefit!
4) Build up those airline miles. I make all my purchases on my United Airlines credit card, along with building up frequent flyer miles through their reward program when purchasing plane tickets. Using my credit card for necessary items such as food and gas really adds up in the accrual of airline miles, which is pretty nice getting rewards for purchases that need to be made.
5) Take advantage of travel programs (i.e. volunteering /working abroad). Find programs that pay for you to travel (or even better PAY YOU). One of the most popular programs is Peace Corps, along with many other government organizations. However, this isn’t the only option. There are many organizations that pay for educated Americans to work in other countries, provide housing, or even simply offering small food incentives. Some of my favorite sites are:
- www.WWOOF.com – Live and eat for free while volunteering on organic farms around the world. Volunteers can stay anywhere from two weeks to several months and you do not need to have any experience or farming knowledge.
- www.goabroad.com – This database that allows excellent search options for finding exactly what kind of international experience you are looking for.
- www.grassrootsoccer.org – A nonprofit that offers paid internships in Africa. This is one of MANY international internship organizations that offers incentive for educated Americans to work abroad.