A Guide To Traveling Abroad Without Breaking the Bank

Travel

I don't know about you but lately my timeline has been flooded with images of Parisian promenades, Southeast Asian rice fields, and clear blue Caribbean seas.


This generation is definitely on a travel wave and everybody wants to take a ride, including me.

Here's the issue: my pockets are tight. When you hear the words "international travel," your first thought is probably dollar signs on dollar signs. Traveling abroad can evoke a certain level of luxury in which your wallet is not familiar.

While I've traveled frequently in the past, the last couple of years have been slow. My biggest priority has been just paying my ridiculous NYC rent on time. But Thailand was heavy on my mind and I was NOT going to let my pitiful bank account stop me.

Where there is a will, there is a financially feasible way.

With any trip, the biggest expenses are transportation, lodging, and leisure, and there are ways to maneuver through these potential pitfalls to have the international trip of your dreams. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide of how to budget for any international trip.

Transportation

Getting There and Back

There's a website called Rome2Rio that gives you the full play by play on the cost of going from point A to B by plane, trains, and other automobiles. It's a great starting point. Once you've narrowed down your cheapest options, you can buy your tickets right from the site.

If you're not ready to buy just yet, download Hopper on your phone. It sends you periodic notifications on the best time to buy your ticket for the cheapest fare.

Flexible on time and place? You can look up cheap airfare on Skyscanner without indicating specifics. This site is perfect for those who just need to travel and don't care when or where. I relied heavily on Skyscanner to book my round trip ticket to Bangkok for only $600.

Local Transportation

Okay, so you're in your travel destination. How do you get around without paying crazy expensive taxi fares? No matter what city I travel to, I make use of two very important modes of transportation: public transit, and my own two feet.

Let's talk about public transit. It's become increasingly popular to use those Hop On, Hop Off tourist vehicles and while I see the appeal, they are just totally unnecessary. Why spend $50 to sightsee when you can catch a local bus or subway for $2? It may seem scary but you will see more of the authentic, less touristy parts of town and you will become incredibly familiar with the city.

But the absolute BEST way to travel for cheap is to walk. Crazy idea, right? Most cities outside of the US, and especially in Europe, are very pedestrian friendly. You can spend a day strolling leisurely from one historical monument to the next. You never know what you might stumble upon. A gorgeous field of lavender, a quaint restaurant that sells regional cuisine, or a hip bar for when happy hour strikes. So if you're physically able and the weather permits, I highly recommend making it your main mode of transportation.

BONUS: I haven't done this, but bike renting is another great option.

Short Distance Travel

Since I was traveling to several cities in a short amount of time, part of the stress was figuring out the shortest yet most cost efficient way to get there. At this stage in my life, I value price over convenience. While an hour plane ride sounds lovely, $200 does not.

My advice: take a sleeper train. I ended up finding a $20 ticket to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. Yes, it's a grueling 14 hours BUT I chose an overnight train. I left at 8pm and woke up the next morning to see the sunrise over the beautiful Thai countryside. Not a bad way to wake up.

I did however (luckily) find a $30 dollar flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi Beach through Air Asia. So cheap airfare is possible as well.

Lodging

Airbnb

Hotels can be pricey and lack personality. For the most part, I love using AirBnB. Its popularity stems from not only the budget-friendly options but also it's "home away from home" level of comfort. But don't discount hotels, you could find some cost efficient gems!

Since I traveled to Thailand solo, I really wanted to be around people so I opted for hostels throughout my trip. Honestly, I don't LOVE hostels. Sharing a room with 4+ strangers feels like summer camp. But it's crazy affordable. And for this particular trip, my hostels helped me find new buddies to explore the city with. And they instantly connect you with people from all over the world with really amazing stories. I also found really nice hostels with private bathrooms, high speed internet and WiFi, free breakfast, and a handful of other great accommodations.

Leisure

This could arguably become the most expensive part of your trip but it's also the one where you have the most financial control. For vacation, I always take out cash and refrain from using my credit cards. This allows me to stay in my budget, as well as physically keep track of my spending.

Food and Drinks

If you follow my advice from housing, breakfast is already taken care of. But for lunch and dinner, you have to be careful not to overspend. Don't ball out for every meal. Be on the lookout for lunch or dinner specials and grab something light and inexpensive every now and then.

For drinks, utilize happy hours to the best of your ability but you also don't always have to buy from the bar. While I was in Krabi Beach, my new hostel friends and I grabbed a bottle of wine from a local store and just laid on the beach with our toes in the sand, watching the sunset over the sea. Way more memorable that way.

Activities

They say the best things in life are free. Depending on the city, this may be easier said than done. But before you travel, always look up a list of inexpensive or practically free activities. For large cities, Timeout is a great reference. For smaller cities, ask locals for advice. Locals know best after all.

Like I said, I went to Thailand by myself. So I wanted a more activity driven trip where I could meet other people as opposed to just lounging around alone. For this reason, TripAdvisor became my best friend. Based on the reviews of others, you can see whether an activity, excursion, or sight is worth your time and money. Thanks to TripAdvisor, I found the perfect company to book a day trip with rescued elephants and a high-speed boat tour around Phi Phi Islands.

In conclusion, traveling on a budget is more feasible than you realize. All it takes is serious financial control and proper planning. If the idea of planning your own travel totally overwhelms you and you don't mind dropping some coins, I highly recommend looking into group travel programs.

However, if you want an experience tailored to your personal interests and finances, it's best to DIY. Because of my extreme budgeting, I was able to live my best life and do this...

And do this.

And this, too.

Happy Traveling!

Sign up today and be the first to get notified on new updates, exclusive events, retreats and giveaways!

More Posts

The OWN network has turned up the heat on Tuesday nights. And if you watched the premiere of the Will Packer produced series Ambitions, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Viewers were catapulted into this deliciously messy drama that follows the lives of five families who are all trying to navigate the waters of dominance, disloyalty, dishonesty, and most of all: debauchery. The cast is full of amazing actors who do more than a good job bringing their characters to life -- I'm talking Essence Atkins, Brian J. White, Kendrick Cross, Brely Evans and the lead lady of the pack: Robin Givens.

Keep reading... Show less

Elevate and chill is the wave, and every week, xoNecole is spotlighting black women bosses you should support and follow. Join us on August 3 to support businesses like these in real life at our first annual ElevateHER Market event.

The moment Candace Marie Stewart took her first trip to New York City, she understood why her life in Arkansas didn't make sense. While southern girls have a unique perception of style and flair, Candace felt a soul tie to the Big Apple that she couldn't ignore. Ever since she made the fashion capital of the US her home, this social media maven has been creating a name for herself despite the status quo.

Keep reading... Show less

If you are a business owner with a product to sell, you've probably considered becoming a vendor as a marketing tool to make additional revenue. The personalized interaction you get with prospective clients and customers is essential for every business. Vending doesn't just look like a booth at a conference, and it's not just for people who sell jewelry or hair products.

Keep reading... Show less

If you're like me, you live for that moment when you come home from a long day of adulting and get to remove your bra.

Keep reading... Show less

I have to admit, I'm not someone who obsesses over or relies heavily on celebrity hook-ups, marriages, and love stories as a guide for my own relationships, considering the fact that their lifestyles are quite different from mine. Not to mention, you never truly know what goes on behind closed doors -- whether they're famous or not.

Keep reading... Show less

I know you may have an image in your head of what culottes look like because the connotation of the word usually rings "olden." There has always been battling opinions on whether or not the trend is chic or unsexy.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts