What if I told you that you could go to the UK, or just about any other country in the world over your next Christmas break for under three hundred dollars. Would you believe me? It’s okay if you don’t right now, but by the end of this article you should. You see, travel doesn’t need to be some crazy huge ordeal that takes a big bite out of your saving account. It’s not even something you have to save for very actively if you don’t want to. As there are resources and ways out there in the world to make travel cheap, and accessible to everyone. No matter your age, or monetary situation.
So let’s hypothetically, for the sake of convenience, say that you wanted to go to the UK over Christmas break, where would you even begin? Well for starters, let’s nail down the most expensive part of getting there. The plane ticket. Normally this ticket alone would cost you anywhere from $40-$1,300, depending on where you live in the world. But with the ways of alternative travel this ticket becomes free. Let me explain.
There are many traveling credit cards that offer HUGE sign up bonuses for just getting the card, or by spending a fairy low amount of money in the first 1-6 months of having the card. These bonuses come in the form of a massive amount of free airline miles, usually anywhere from 10,000-50,000 miles. So one just has to simply sign up for a few of these cards. Meet the requirements. Get the miles in your flyers account. Then cancel the card. No harm, no foul.
What freaks people out about these cards, and deterred me at first as well, is the fact that you’re dealing with credit cards. A sort of taboo in our society now. As with credit cards have become associated with, bills, debt, and credit scores. For good reasons as well. But have no fear. Most of these cards waive the first years fee of payment. As long as you’re not spending a ton of money on these cards, and keeping them paid off then you have nothing to worry about. Even with your credit score, as long as you’re not churning dozens of these cards a year your credit score will not take a hit. (If you’re skeptical and don’t want to take my word for it I invite you to do a couple google searches and some research for yourself.)
Now the most difficult road block in getting your miles is the minimum balance you must spend to gain access to these bonuses. Most of the time it’s having to spend $1,000 to $5,000 in the first 1-6 months of having the card. Don’t fret though for there are ways to reach these minimum requirements without actually spending any money at all, or by spending money you would have already. Here’s how.
– Pay your bills.
– Pick up group tabs at bars or restaurants, then have your friends pay you back in cash
– If you hold a company credit card, ask if you can use your credit card instead to bill things too
– Any large purchases made in your family use your card and then get cash from that relative.
– Pay for your Starbucks, gas, McDonalds, ect. with the card.
– Basically anything you’d buy use your card instead of cash or debit. You’d be surprised how quickly this adds up.
– Use Amazon Payment. This service allows you to make up to $1,000 in payments to anyone you like per month. So theoretically you could pay a trusted friend that thousand and then just have them give it right back to you. BOOM! Not a penny spent.
So now you’ve met your spending requirements and have thousands of free miles to spend on that ticket to the UK. First obstacle done!
You’ve booked your ticket, and covered your travel to and from the UK. But, there are still a few more things you need to take care of before you’re trip is completely planned. You’re next step is to figure out where you’re going to sleep, and how you’re going to eat. Luckily there are several solutions to this. Only two of which I’ll be talking about here though.
You’re first method is going to be using Helpx. A program which allows you to stay with a local family or business, and work for your bed and food. Now while you may be thinking that you don’t want to work while on vacation, let me say this. The hours are not long. Usually no more than four hours of light work, with a day or two off a week to do as you wish. Even while working you’ll be around people that are from the region and culture you’re wanting to stay with. So rather than a working experience it becomes more of a learning experience. As you get entrenched in their thought, ideas, and practices. Something that being a tourist does not afford you.
Go to helpx.net to browse some of the possible host families you could stay with, and to get a better idea of what you may be doing. Keep in mind, that in order to gain access to helpx there is a fee of $30, which covers you for two years, and is more than worth the price. As you’ll save that ten fold in your travels. But you can browse through the listings without paying that initial $30.
Sample listing from Helpx
The other way to live for cheap while on the move would be to take advantage of house sitting. Now I’d give you a website here, but I’d recommend just googling “house sitting” instead as there are multiple good websites you can use. So browse around a bit and see which is the best for you.
This is for you if you’d rather not work in a helpx program. The only draw back is while you’ll have a free place to stay, you’ll have to pay for your food. BUT this isn’t terrible, as you’ll have a house. So just go grocery shopping for the week or two you’ll be there, and save a load. Rather than going out to eat. You can eat good and cheap if you are buying all your food.
If you are house sitting, while you’ll have a house to stay in, you may have to do a small bit of chores to do for the home owners. Such as bringing in the mail, walking their pets, vacuuming the rugs, keep the house tidy, things of that nature. All in all, nothing to crazy. More than worth it for a free house to stay in.
Between helpx and house sitting, your accommodation and food will pretty much be taken care of. The only money you’re spending in the process is, your public transport fees (taxi, the subways, busses, ect.), food you may have to acquire, and a night or two in a hostel to get to your destination. Pretty cheap all things considered. AND more importantly it’s not going to break your bank.
But do keep in mind that if you are wanting to eat out, drink occasionally at the pub, or go see museums/sight see, that those things are not free. So budget accordingly.
Travel isn’t an expensive or hard thing, and anyone is truly capable of it. It’s just about knowing how to travel, and being smart while doing so. Knowing where to save money, and using what networks you have at your disposal. So for next Christmas break, or any break you may have impending, consider a trip to another country to spice up your life a bit. Make some memories, expand your horizons, and don’t forget to live while your there.
If you have any more questions, concerns, or just need something further explained don’t hesitate to email me, as this post is for you. Jeremystormsky@gmail.com
This is the kind of advice and knowledge you’d find in the upcoming book by Jeremy Parris, “The Broke Travel Bible”. To find out more on “The Broke Travel Bible” go to http://igg.me/at/jeremystormsky/x/6616850