As the late great Emmerson said, ”It’s the journey, not the destination”. To be able to say ”This is where I want to go”, whether its a city, a general direction, or a timeline, and then make a plan and follow through… that takes guts.
Here are some ways that can save you a lot of money, allowing you to travel further and more often.
- Drive – Get an oil change, check your tires, and wiper blades, fill up the tank and GO. Wherever your heart desires. Change your mind a few times if you want, you have that freedom. Don’t get me wrong, I love flying. Depending on how far the destination is and the timeline, sometimes flying is the only option. But by driving you can add more adventures to your trip, take random roads and find hidden spots. Those little roadside attractions, hole-in-the-wall diners, and unobstructed views really are the spice of life.
- Camping– Whether it’s car camping, in the rooftop tent, or finding an actual tent site.. camping saves you a ton of money. Lodging can be the most expensive part of trips if you’re not staying in hostels or with friends or relatives. Sometimes it’s great to stay in a resort with room service and plush robes in the rooms. But it may not be feasible, or optimum to spend hundreds of dollars a night. In some places, why would you even want to when you can sleep in the fresh air under the stars. Pitching a tent or hammock automatically makes your trip more of an adventure. Campendium is a cool app that shows great off-the-grid sites and established campsites alike.
- Hostels– Hostels are a great way to stay in a city on a dime. They give you the basics: a bed, a shower, and a kitchen. Be advised, the privacy factor here is minimum. Beds are usually bunk beds in a shared dorm. Showers are co-ed and there are sometimes several in one bathroom. Shower shoes are essential. Don’t have any? Shower in your flip flops. Besides the shared facilities, there are also shared living areas. This means you have the opportunity to meet some super cool like-minded travelers where you’re staying. I’ve met some really amazing people in hostels. There’s nothing like staying up until 3 AM on the bright Alaskan summer nights, having a deep life-affirming conversation with a person you just met. Hostels are a great resource. Not all are created equal so always be on your guard and use the lockers provided for valuables. Hostelworld is a great app for finding and booking a bed, make sure to read the reviews.
- Pack food– Food is such a beautiful aspect of travel and experiencing different cultures. Stop at that food truck next to the pier? Don’t mind if I do. Try the bao at this place in China Town? Absolutely. Eat fast food every meal- No Way. One of the biggest money savers is packing food, and not eating out constantly. Before a trip, I go to the grocery store and stock up on items like beef jerky, bananas, oranges, protein bars, oatmeal, tortillas and beans, instant noodles, and anything I can cook on a camp stove or fire. If I’m in the mood for bacon or other perishable items, I buy them on the spot so they only have to be in a cooler for a short period of time. Make sure if you’re heading into bear country to store your food safely, and don’t make the mistake of thinking a closed cooler at your campsite will keep a raccoon from stealing your bacon. (It won’t, and you’ll be sad they made off with all your bacon).
- Get a National Park Pass – An annual National Park pass covers entrance fees, amenity fees, and day use fees to more than 2000 national recreation areas. It’s valid for 12 months and will admit an entire vehicle of guests. Bonus: military and veterans are able to get free passes, and there can be 2 signers on each pass. This is hands-down my most recommended pass to get. They also have little passport books you can purchase and get stamped at each park, which is a super fun way to document your journeys.
- Be okay with being uncomfortable – How uncomfortable are you willing to be? Are you willing to sleep on the ground, be in a place where nobody knows you, or spend as little money as possible? Are you willing to get dirty, cold, or lost? As long as you know how to read a map, use a compass, always have extra water and food, a fire starter, and a backup plan.. the more okay you are with these situations, the more adventure you open yourself up to. Be smart, and be confident in your abilities, but know your limitations and when to turn back. You could find yourself in some of the most beautiful, unexpected places. Have fun, and stay safe out there.