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How I Afford To Travel The World Without Breaking Bank

Implementing these things can make a difference in how you approach travel and your finances.

Travel

Traveling is something we all say we want to do but we feel we can't because of financial strain. A lot of times we tell ourselves that travel is too expensive and we overestimate how much it would cost to take a vacation. But that is simply not true! Travel is something that you have to intentionally plan and make priority in your life. There are lots of ways to have a dream vacation without breaking the bank. Creating strategies that help you put away money and maintain your current lifestyle is the best way to help incorporate travel into a regular routine.

Over the last few years of travel, I've learned some helpful ways that anyone can use to save money or be more mindful of finances while traveling. Implementing just one of these can make a big difference in how you can travel and be financially responsible.

1. Create a Budget

Travel can be super addictive! You go on one amazing trip and then start planning the next one before you have even made it home. Case in point, that's how I ended up taking 6 international trips in 2018 and visiting a total of 7 countries. However, I wouldn't have been able to reach all my destinations without some planning. The biggest help I had was making a budget for each trip. One thing I learned quickly was there is no single correct way to create a budget and each trip had its own unique requirements. However, there are a few general guidelines you can apply to fit your budgeting style:

Plan out your vacation as far in advance as possible.

This simply means plan out all your known vacation plans into the next year. This way you can see how things are going to pan out over the course of the year. For instance, what months are heavy with international travel or domestic, where you might need to save more money or if you have too many trips planned at the same time. Even if you are only taking one trip that year, get it in the books as soon as possible and plan ahead.

Set small amounts of money aside in a travel fund throughout the year.

It is always a good idea to have an emergency fund because things can happen that are unexpected when traveling abroad. Saving small amounts over a longer time is easier than paying in one lump sum at the time of travel.

Research current currency rates for your international trips.

There is nothing worse than exchanging too much money and not being able to get that same amount back in your own currency. You also want to know what fees you will be charged when exchanging money at the airport compared to withdrawing money out of the ATM.

Research your estimated cost per day.

One of the biggest ways to stay on budget is to research what it would cost you per day for every day activities like eating, taking a taxi, or go on an excursion. This will help you narrow down on how much money to bring for daily things as well as how much you may need for an emergency or extra activities.

Lastly, create a budget for souvenirs.

Sounds ridiculous, I know, but we all can fall into the trap of buying too many amazing rugs from Morocco or cigars from Cuba. Go with a plan in mind of the things you absolutely want and what you are willing to pay for them.

Travel can get really expensive fast! It is always best to have some sort of budget in mind. Every destination, however, does not require the same amount of budgeting. Some places are cheaper to travel in than others. Remember, every person does not have the same budgeting style, so find what a general fit is for you and then modify as necessary.

2. Chase the Deal, Not the Destination

This was actually the first thing that I learned when I started traveling. I had a lot of places that I wanted to go but I was trying to figure out how to economically get to them all. The way my bank account is set up, I could travel but not too far! I read a lot of articles and followed a few of my favorite travel influencers to see what their secret was and how they seemed to travel nonstop. One tip, trick, or hack that was a common theme was: chase the deal and not the destination. It is a counterintuitive approach to how people normally plan travel, but it works. So, why does this work?

Well, flight deals occur all the time, every day in fact. You will find that deals to certain locations are pretty common, from flight deals to hacker sales, there is usually something every single day. The one caveat to that is the deal may not be for the exact location you are looking to travel to at that particular time. Instead, they will be to other locations, during specific time periods, and only lasts for a short amount of time. So, instead of deciding on a location, decide on a time period or set of dates you would like to travel, and go for the deals to whatever location is cheapest at that time. Taking advantage of an opportunity like this will keep costs down in your overall budget. Don't be afraid to be flexible; you will get to all your bucket list locations in due time will money well spent.

3. Use Budget Air Travel

Budget air travel is your best friend when booking domestic trips or short international flights. The worst feeling is purchasing a flight and realizing you overpaid. So what is a budget airline or what is commonly referred to as a low-cost carrier? A low-cost carrier or budget airline is an airline that does not provide most of the traditional services in the fare, resulting in lower fares and fewer comforts. To make up for revenue lost in decreased ticket prices, the airline may charge for extras such as food, priority boarding, seat allocating, and baggage.

Beware of the trap of flying one of the major carriers. Like any other traveler, I like the comforts of some larger airlines. But if my flight will be less than three hours long, I choose a budget airline. Especially when traveling internationally, budget airliners can help save you money and help you move around a lot easier. There are some noticeable differences when flying budget but in the long run, when trying not to break the bank while traveling, your pockets will thank you.

4. Use Vacation Days to Your Benefit

One asset that people do not maximize commonly is their vacation time. You can do this by utilizing time off around company holidays or conferences. According to a recent article on CNBC.com, "52 percent of Americans didn't even use all of their vacation days in 2017." Your vacation time can be one of your biggest assets in trying to save money traveling. The best way to use your vacation time is to understand what type of vacation benefits your company offers. Before we go further, if you are in negotiations for a new position, you can negotiate for more vacation days as well as higher pay. Traditionally, most companies offer paid time off or PTO. This policy can be found in some employee handbooks detailing the bank of hours in which the employer pools sick days, vacation days, and personal days that allow employees to use as needed.

To use PTO effectively, it requires strategy. You should understand how many days you accrue per year, how fast you accrue those day and how you can take those days. Two ways to strategize your days are:

  • Add days around company holidays.
  • Add days around an existing business trip.

Your vacation days are a benefit to you provided by your company. They can be used to extend days on vacation that are of no cost to you. It is almost like getting extra free days that do not come out of your pocket. Whether it is getting days paid for on the company dime at a conference, or using holiday days to extend vacation time without it coming out of your PTO bank, use this benefit to fit your travel needs.

5. Get Creative When Looking for Lodging

One of my favorite to-do list items while planning a trip is looking for unique places to stay. I like to have a full on experience when I travel so I try my best to have every detail be as authentic to the culture as possible. An example, when I traveled to Paris, I wanted to stay in a flat that was overlooking the Eiffel Tower, with large French doors, wrought iron railings, balconies, floor to ceiling windows, hardwood floors… you get the picture. So, I investigated as many websites as possible to find places that fit this criteria but were in my budget.

Depending on the trip, domestic or international, I may get more adventurous than normal. Most of the time for domestic trips, I stay with family or friends for the obvious reasons of saving money. If I decide to rent a place, I have a few sites that I check:

Airbnb

I like Airbnb because you can get a unique personalized experience by staying in someone's home. I love how creative the hosts are starting to get with their properties. Also, you can haggle on price just by simply emailing with the hosts.

Priceline

Priceline is my go-to when I cannot find a hotel property in my price range. I love the bidding feature which allows you to bid up to 60% off per night. I have saved tons of money on 3 to 5 star hotels.

Hotels.com

This one is probably my favorite when looking for hotels. Simply because I can book as many as I want and most of the time I get free cancellations. This helps me to reserve a room at a great price in the present time. If that price drops, Hotels allows me to cancel my current reservation and rebook with new cheaper pricing.

Kayak

This one is normally my last option but I still use it. This site has all of the benefits of hotels.com with the additional feature to track pricing. I normally use it in conjunction with all the other sites just to cross reference the prices.

Develop your list of websites that you know and trust to find lodging while traveling for cheap. Make sure to sign up for rewards benefits so that you can get the maximum out of each site. Some sites offer 10% off coupons, "stay 4 nights get 1 free", or other incentives like free breakfast or $50 off spa treatment. When looking on Airbnb, the best properties I have found were by searching through the superhosts section. I can say for sure that I got my money's worth with these properties and hosts.

There are lots of creative ways to travel within anyone's budget. The main idea is to make it a priority. Taking a trip on the fly will cost you in the long run. But if you plan appropriately, you can take the vacation you want without worrying about overspending. No destination is too exotic or expensive with the right planning. Everywhere is accessible if you renew your mindset to a new way of thinking about travel and your finances. So, go out there and see the world…within your budget!

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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