You don't need months of spare time and huge amounts of money to see the world. Really, I promise!
I've been to 27 countries and 4 continents (and counting!), and TRUST ME, I am definitely NOT made of money or time.
There are lots of different ways to travel long term, or short term, while on a budget and still have unforgettable experiences. You don't need a trust fund to go to Europe and you don't need three months to enjoy an adventure in Cambodia — really!
But international travel is expensive! Isn't an all-inclusive in a sun-destination just easier, and a better deal?
You've got me at easier.
I can't deny that clicking "purchase" on an all-inclusive package is easy. And even I have done one before. But I found that I got bored staying within the walls of the resort, I never ate or drank enough to really make it worthwhile, and the paid excursions were kind of boring and forced me to spend time at gift shops that I could have been spending at a beach or exploring a local hot spot on my own.
If that sounds like you, putting in a little extra effort to plan your own trip might just be right up your ally!
Your largest expense (especially for those of us travelling from North America) is the flight. But, thanks to airlines now offering regular deals to major cities all over the world, and discount travel websites, you can now find incredibly cheap flights as long as you plan ahead. I've found flights to Europe for $450 over the last year — an incredible deal!
Also remember that once you get to Europe you can use cheap airlines to get around to other countries. For example, if I want to go to Portugal, I will look for a flight to London or Paris, as I know that are often less expensive. Then I will book a RyanAir or EasyJet flight separately to save hundreds of dollars. These discount airlines offer one-way flights for as little as $20 sometimes! Always look at the option of booking segments of your flight separately. Sometimes it can work out to be a lot cheaper!
Once you've got your flight sorted out, like at home, you could pay hundreds of dollars for food, fun, and a bed OR you can choose the more budget friendly options.
You probably aren't going to be spending a ton of time actually in your room. You will be out seeing the sights, trying out local food, and exploring. Do you really need a giant room with a view? Or will a more budget-friendly option work?
When it comes to fun, or seeing the sights, remember that a lot of museums and cultural attractions are free or affordable to make them accessible to everyone. And sometimes the best way to see a city is to just walk around it — that doesn't cost a cent!
When it comes to food, costs can add up if you eat out for every meal. But, if you self-cater from grocery stores, eat from street stalls, or check out local bakeries and grab-and-go spots, it doesn't have to cost a lot! If you want to eat out one meal a day, lunch tends to be cheaper, but just as good, than dinner at restaurants.
Let me put it this way — if you are willing to spend $1,700-$2,500 for seven nights at an all-inclusive, why not spend $700 on flights to Portugal, $40 a night at a B&B, and the rest on having the adventure of a lifetime?
But how do you solve the time thing? What if you only have one week?
You do not need to have two months at your disposal to go to Europe, Asia, or anywhere else on the planet for that matter.
On one of my more recent trips, I travelled to Sweden for just seven days. I flew through Iceland, but because there was a minimal layover, my travel time was actually shorter than it would have been if I had taken a flight down to Mexico, which would involve longer layovers!
Yes, the flight itself might be a few hours longer then if you were to head somewhere closer to home, but the reward will be spending a week somewhere totally new that will give you a new perspective. I find that the more I am shoved out of my comfort zone, the longer it feels like I'm away.
What about jet lag?
Yes, jet lag can interfere a bit in long-distance adventures, but there are ways to avoid and minimize symptoms.
Also remember that when you are travelling the only demand on you is to have an amazing time, relax, and soak in new cultures. Feeling a little tired or dehydrated is completely manageable under those circumstances!
Here are some other ways that you can travel outside of an all-inclusive or set vacation:
The first international trip I took was to build houses in Honduras. I got there through fundraised dollars and spent just a week (that felt more like a month because it took me so far out of my comfort zone) being exposed to a whole new world.
Volunteer organizations will often cover the costs or your room and board (and sometimes even your fight) while you are giving your time to their cause.
2. Take A Class
I attended a semester of University in Italy and the tuition was the same as it would have been at home! The cost of room and board was actually cheaper than it would have been at home, making the only real additional large expense the flight there. After the semester ended, I took advantage of already being in Europe and stayed for an additional three months.
You can join a dig, take a language course, or even learn a local handicraft. Look into class exchanges or international programs at your local university. You don't have to be a young student to attended one of these programs either! They are often offered to anyone, any age, whether you are attending the university or not!