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How to Travel Cheaply

I’m at the InHome Homeschooling Conference in Illinois! I’m leading 4 workshops on Friday and Saturday. Lots of people signed up for the “How to Travel Cheaply” workshop. Here’s the handout I’m giving them with tips and links to help people travel on a budget.

Probably the first thing I’ll tell them at the workshop is that traveling around the world is often less expensive than living in the U.S. and it is quite doable!

Well, here it is:

Cheap flights
Tips for finding cheap flights
-Fly different times: much cheaper during certain months of the year (peak OR non-peak season) and different days of the week: usually Tues. or Wed. is cheapest but check all
-Fly from and to smaller, nearby airports: sometimes much cheaper
-Save money by taking inconvenient flights: overnight, early morning, non-direct, etc.
Flight Search Sites
www.kayak.com – searches almost every other website to find the best deals; prices already include taxes and fees; easy to use w/ many options: flight times, nearby airports, multi-city, etc.
www.goodairfare.com – sometimes has deals that Kayak doesn’t
www.statravel.com – special deals for students, teachers, and those under 26, many offices around the world
www.studentuniverse.com – special deals for college students: even if you’ve only taken some community college classes you may still qualify as college student

Places to Stay
Hostels
-Great, fun, cheap places to stay; not just for young people!; many are lovely, clean, comfortable, family friendly and conveniently located but some are not
-Read reviews online and talk to other travelers; change to another if one isn’t working
-Great way to meet lots of other independent or solo travelers: share experiences and travels tips; find casual travel companions for as long as you want – an afternoon, a week, a month, or more
-Group dorm rooms are cheap and great way to meet other travelers; often have bunk beds and shared bathrooms; sometimes separated by gender; tend to be very safe and include personal lockers for your valuables
-Hostels usually also have nice, inexpensive private rooms with private bathrooms
www.hostelworld.com – many cheap hostels and hotels in many cities around the world; easily book online; has photos, stats, and most importantly read recent positive and negative customer reviews about comfort, staff, cleanliness, noise level, convenience, etc.
www.hostelbookers.com – another option: very similar and sometimes has hostels hostelworld.com does not; but it doesn’t have those helpful negative customer reviews; but some positive reviews reveal possible negative sides too: “This is a great party place!” etc.

Hotels
-Some cheap hotels you can find on the hostel websites and most of the flight search websites also include hotel searches: kayak.com, goodairfare.com, priceline.com, etc.
-As always: ask other travelers and read reviews online
-Some places are too far off the tourist path to have hostels but may have very inexpensive hotels

Houses and Staying in People’s Homes
-Rent a house for a whole month, especially slightly off the tourist path, for a great deal: really get to know a place and use as your hub for day trips in the area
www.homeexchange.com or www.homebase-hols.com – join these networks for a small fee to swap homes with other travelers around the world
www.couchsurfing.org – join this network to find people who will let you stay on their couch or extra bed for free; the organization’s motto: “Participating in Creating a Better World One Couch at a Time”
www.servas.org – similar organization around for 60 years now: stay in people’s homes for free for a couple nights or more; their motto: “With every true friendship we build the basis for World Peace.”

Food
-Cook your own food when you can: another advantage to hostels, homes, and houses – they usually have kitchens where you can cook and in hostels you can cook with other travelers
-Eat at local restaurants and markets: have the authentic and usually much cheaper and more delicious food that local people eat
-Find cheaper restaurants often just a short walk from main streets and tourist areas

Guide Books
-These books can be a great resource for things to see, good cheap places to stay, safety tips, great restaurants and markets, etc.
-Includes wonderful and important historical and cultural information
-Often has very helpful and accurate estimates for your daily expenses (though this can change quickly over a couple years if the book is older)
Lonely Planet – Most popular book for independent and budget travelers; they have books for many countries and regions
Let’s Go – Made by students from Harvard for younger, budget travelers but helpful for any independent traveler; they mostly have books for European travel but a few other local and international destinations
Rick Steves – another great line of guide books by a popular travel tour guide

Learn the Local Language
-When bargaining for merchandise it helps if you can speak even a little of the language!
-But mainly this enriches and adds value to your travel experience: learning some of the local language(s) helps you connect with the people and culture in a fun and meaningful way, which is what travel is all about

Also, two great organizations I forgot to include on the handout I made for the workshop:

Willing Workers On Organic Farms or WWOOF – this organization enables travelers to work on organic farms around the world in exchange for room and board; great way to meet local people, work, and  get a unique view of a country; no guarantee on the quality of the work, bedding, food, etc. but you can leave if it’s not working for you

Volunteers for Peace – has a great searchable database of many volunteer work opportunities around the world; camps last for as short as one week or as long as 6 months; they charge you for the camps (about $300) but includes room and board

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