The most common misconception about traveling the world is that you need a TON of money to do it. In fact, reading through my emails and comments on Instagram, it’s probably the biggest mystery looming around my travel lifestyle. I’m constantly being asked “How do you afford it all?” and “How much has it all cost you?”
To many, it comes as a shock when I tell them that a year of travel will cost them maximum $10,000 or even less…as long as you know the right travel hacks!
After a year of non-stop travel, I can proudly say that everything from flights, accommodation, and all other travel costs (minus daily living costs like meals, taxis, etc.) amounted to a whopping $9,486!! Only $9,486 later, and I visited 4 continents, 20 countries, and 45 cities!! Even after laying all the numbers out on paper, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it, so I don’t blame you if you’re in the same boat.
What might be even crazier though is that I even SAVED money by traveling, especially compared to what my cost of living would be at home in Los Angeles! Rent would cost me a minimum of $1,500 per month, gas every 2 weeks costs a total of $100, and eating out cost an average of $20 (many times more!) each time. So, after adding up the numbers, I learned I saved about $12,500 from traveling the world!
Not gonna lie, it took A LOT of research, preparation, and travel hacking to achieve such a low number, but the hacks are luckily simple enough for anyone to learn and follow👍
Keep reading to see how YOU too can travel the world for under $10,000 too!
1. Travel with a buddy or group
Traveling with a partner is a huge money-saver when it comes to accommodation, and other costs that can be split like transportation, groceries, etc. It also allows you to afford higher quality accommodation, that you otherwise may not be able to afford as a solo traveler.
For example, throughout the duration of my trip, I never had to stay in a hotel with under 3 stars because the costs were so cheap when splitting with my boyfriend! We even got to treat ourselves to several 5-star hotels in cheaper destinations! And the AirBnBs we stayed in never dipped below our standards.
2. Book flights early
When it comes to long-haul flights, you should ALWAYS book early! My suggestion would be booking about 4-6 months before your departure date for the cheapest prices. Forget everything else you heard…I experimented with all the hacks, from booking last minute, to booking exactly 2 months before, and earliest has always proved best!
From booking my flights early in the past, I was able to score a $250 flight to Thailand from LA, and another $350 from Kuala Lumpur to Munich 👌
3. Choose your destinations & duration of stays wisely
Throughout my year of travel I visited both cheap and expensive destinations, but what mattered was that I “lived” in the cheap destinations, and only payed a short visit to the expensive ones.
Research the strength of your currency and average costs of living in each country before you choose your itinerary, and plan to stay the longest in places where your currency is strong and the average costs of living are low. Take Thailand for example. I was able to live in a 4-star hotel for 3 weeks, where meals averaged $2-$5 and massages cost only $5! Somewhere like Rome though, where the average meal costs at least 15 euros and the activities cost even more, it’s better to plan a short visit to stay within budget.
4. Use SkyScanner to book flights & be flexible
I’ve tried all the booking sites and SkyScanner has always rewarded me with the cheapest prices! If you’ve already read my previous post on How To Book Cheap Flights, then you know how much I love this website 😍
Not only does it guarantee you the cheapest flights, it also includes budget airlines in its search (which many sites like Expedia and Kayak won’t do), AND it tells you which day of your desired travel month is cheapest to fly. In fact, sometimes it can even tell you the flight prices of every day of that month (see above!). That’s why I mention it’s best to have a flexible schedule when trying to score the cheapest flights.
Have a specific day you want to fly, but can’t afford the flight? Make sure to sign up for price alerts (located to the left of the search results), and SkyScanner will email you if the price changes! This is how I was able to afford my flight to Germany- after being emailed about a price drop of $300!!
5. Stay in AirBnB’s
AirBnB may be the best thing that’s happened to travellers. The nightly prices are usually half the cost of average 3-star hotel prices in most cities, and usually MUCH nicer than the average 3-star hotel as well. Not only do they come with great amenities like free WiFi and a stocked kitchen, they also allow you to save money by cooking at home! I probably saved at least $500 just from buying groceries while traveling, rather than having to eat out for every meal!
As for the not-so-obvious perks of AirBnBs, they’re also great for finally being able to afford accommodation in those notoriously pricey tourist hotspots, such as Venice and Paris. Plus, as we all know, the better the area or neighborhood, the pricier the hotel tends to be, but with AirBnB, the best locations are still super affordable! For instance, in Venice, I was able to afford staying in a beautiful apartment located right on a canal for a fraction of what most 2-star hotels cost!
6. When booking a hotel, book as an Expedia Member
Whenever I booked a hotel, I did so with my Expedia membership! Expedia makes it easy to find great hotels in your price range and has a wide variety of reviews to help finalize your decision. The best thing about this booking site though is that you’re rewarded with points whenever you make a booking, which later turn into travel dollars! Don’t forget to book on the Expedia App for double the points! After my year of booking with Expedia, I have $435.50 to put towards my next hotel booking 👏
Another reason I prefer Expedia over other booking sites is that they treat their customers very well. After reaching a gold status membership, I was even rewarded with a personal line to call for any questions or cancellations I needed, plus refunds made personally by Expedia when hotels refused to give my money back.
7. Use Rome2Rio to find the cheapest routes & modes of transportation
Rome2Rio is the best for estimating how expensive it is to travel from city to city and country to country! It will even tell you all the different methods of transportation available to you, and an estimate of how much each will cost. For those of you that aren’t too geographically savvy, it also gives you a good idea of what the order of your travels should be (i.e. Chiang Mai to Bangkok first or Chiang Mai to Phuket first?) based on your budget and what geographically makes sense.
I have Rome2Rio to thank for pretty much my entire budget itinerary planning!!
8. Save the most money by staying in 1 place for 1 week or 1 month
Without fail, I ALWAYS saved the most money when staying in one place for at least 1 week or more. A big reason for this was saving money by cooking my own meals. Another huge helper was the discounts rewarded by AirBnB for longer rentals (see above!). Most AirBnB rentals offer discounts to those booking for a week or month, AND you avoid all the daily taxes and hotel fees that make hotel bills incredibly pricey. To top it all off, with more time on your hands, you can explore at a slower pace, meaning less taxi bills, and more time to explore on foot for free!
9. Purchase travel insurance
If I never purchased travel insurance, my trip would of amounted to $11,500 instead of $9,500! It covers you for lost luggage, most missed flights, any medical bills abroad, as well as any travel cancellations that you otherwise wouldn’t be refunded for.
World Nomads travel insurance personally covered me for thousands of dollars worth of medical bills and unexpected cancellations due to terrorist attacks in Turkey. I remember being very skeptical before purchasing it, hoping I wasn’t wasting my precious travel dollars, but it ended up being an incredible investment!
10. Schedule your visits during shoulder season
“Shoulder seasons” are those months between low and high tourist seasons. They may not be known for having the absolute best weather or be the most convenient time to take a vacation, but they certainly have the best prices and reward you with the best travel experiences. I say the latter because shoulder season has half the amount of tourists compared to high season, and the weather is still pleasant, unlike low season. Plus, with discounted prices, it is truly the perfect window to travel!
With all that being said, do some research when planning your itinerary and schedule your future visit during shoulder season of your desired destination. You’ll not just save a great deal of money, you may also be able to travel to those places that were once to costly to afford!
Bonus Tip: Get a travel credit card & join frequent flyer programs
This tip I can’t recommend from my own experience, but these are the 2 travel hacks I’m currently researching (and can’t believe I haven’t utilized before!).
Travel credit cards and frequent flyer programs can score you crazy miles, meaning you could potentially book future flights completely free of charge or at a discounted price! They can also reward you with awesome benefits like flight upgrades, airport lounge access, and spending points that turn into future travel cash or discounts.
If you live in the United States and still don’t own a travel credit card, follow along with my research HERE!
You don’t need to memorize these travel hacks! Pin this post for later 📍