International travel means flying across an ocean and eating expensive meals in towns where swindling foreigners is a sport. Not if it’s done right, Andy Andersen said.
“Honestly it costs a lot less than people think,” he said.
Through his backpacking trips across Europe, Andersen has gleaned a few tips to travel cheaply and prolong his time abroad.
1. Save up as much as you can, even if you don’t need it. The first time Andersen backpacked through Europe, he saved more than $5,000, unsure how much he would need. “That lasted for five months and I still had some leftover,” Andersen said.
2. Stay in hostels, or find cheap (or free) options. “If you find volunteer work you can stay for free,” he said. “I had places where I was volunteering and I would live and the accommodations were covered.”
3. Don’t rely on restaurants for food. “The only thing you spend is you go to the grocery store and you get a few fruits, vegetables and sandwich meat, spend a couple bucks a week,” he said.
4. Seek out the cheapest flights. “Most people open a booklet and think they have to buy this package that flies from Lafayette to Greece, a seven-day, all-inclusive thing. It’s a lot of money,” he said. “You can find flights and things a lot cheaper.” Andersen recommends using Kayak, a travel search website. Start searching early, he said, and choose to fly at the beginning of the week instead of the end to find bargains. Then he recommends travelers create their own itineraries.
5. Do not get ripped off. Taxi drivers and street vendors are notorious for fleecing tourists. “The reason that I (and others) get ripped off is because of a lack of knowledge,” Andersen wrote on his blog. “That is it. It is also the cure to overcoming being ripped off.” He encourages travelers to talk to locals about prices and research as much as possible before the trip.