Budget Wanderlust

I used to think that international travel was for the wealthy; that it only fell into the laps of the rich and fearless. What contest do I have to enter? Who’s band do I need to tour with? Where do I apply for an adult friend who’s already fully equipped with a premeditated travel itinerary? For years I’ve been double tapping Instagram photos of crystal blue waters surrounding islands I couldn’t pronounce while I listened to songs about celebrities living far beyond my forever-frugal means.

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This misunderstanding about wanderlust haunted me until 2016 when I vowed to make it to *at the very least* one new country every year. Subsequently, I also vowed to go to one new city every quarter, and lastly….promised myself I would attempt to strike up friendly-in depth conversation with one new person a month. I hoped to expand my horizons, test my adventurism (I literally had to google if this was a word–really happy to hear Merriam-Webster in fact reps it’s credentials) and enrich current and potential human relationships.

What I thought was an unattainable and absolutely terrifying leap of faith became an easy resolution with the help of one minuscule golden rule: DO NOT OVERTHINK IT.

Someone inquires: “Wanna go to Asia?”. Book it.

Don’t have the funds? Put it on a credit card…that’s future you’s problem.

Don’t know the language? Wing it…everyone sounds foreign when you’re drunk.

Don’t know if you can get time off? Quit…ok, fine, this one isn’t realistic for everybody, but its 100% effective given the chance of a lifetime.

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If you don’t write the check for experience, you will eventually write one for regret and nobody is cashing in on memories unmade. If you have the mindset that moments are more precious than things, nothing can get in the way of an inexpensive travel log.

I remember looking up tickets to New York in the dead ass cold of winter and wondering how anybody visits their family during the holidays when some busted up business class seat reservation reflected half of my  paycheck. I assumed that if a destination that didn’t even require a passport was going to wipe out my bank account before even booking sleeping accommodations, international travel would forever be a distant delusion of a broke-ass dreamer. Enters….the trifectaWow Air, Flight Network Direct , and Hopper. These three websites/apps give me almost a guaranteed shot at booking tickets anywhere in the world for under $600 round trip. So, what next? Phone a friend.

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Traveling in groups isn’t just good for multiple photo angle opportunities in front of mediocre travel blog tourist traps. It comes in handy when looking to save on living quarters both domestically and internationally. With the rise of websites like Airbnb and Vrbo, finding compact and affordable full sized homes for rent and splitting that between multiple people is proving to be more of a spacious and cost-effective option across the board. Hotel rooms are a thing of the past when you can literally book a temple equipped with handmade slippers and an entryway guest book that will likely be home to a 2 am drunk drawing of what you think dick’s should look like. “Five star renter, great draw-er”- Every Host I’ve Booked With.

So you have your plane tickets. Every single one of your friends have been threatened into a no-choice vacation scenario so that you can spend a mere $16/night on potentially becoming the lead death in a sketchy group remake of Hostel 3, and now we just need to round out our budget with an alternative to transportation.

In 2017 I traveled to both Canada and Iceland, hitting two new countries on my first year of resolution. Recently, just a few weeks prior to 2018 coming to a close, I visited Japan for nine days. On all three of these trips, transportation was my steepest expense. Mostly because when I go, I go big and I need to see as much of a country as I can in what little time I’ve been given. Which means we need to drive fast, take chances and the scenic route is ALWAYS gonna stroke your wallet.

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My advice is to walk when you can, cram a lot of people into one car if it’s comfortable and make sure you are researching how other people fucked up all the routes before you rage-commit to the easiest one.  Also, bring a lawyer, or many lawyers….or in my case just a lawyers daughter (shout out to my best friend Megan) with you when you rent a car in a foreign country.  I marveled at the ability of the Icelandic rental car representative to make me feel like an idiot, a criminal AND a sucker all in the span of about twelve minutes. While trying to sell you shit you don’t need prior to the trip they will likely double back at the end and falsely accuse you of damages done by previous renters, despite any or no documentation. “Stupid American”, even with a language barrier, translates universally thank you very much.

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Traveling the world doesn’t need to be expensive. With a little bit of planning, and a whole lot of ability to throw all the plans you just made out the window (should it benefit a budget) there’s no cap to what you can explore. If you spend all of your time thinking about all of the things you can’t do, how will you ever find the time to do the things you want to do? Dream big, spend small. You have the rest of your life to settle down, work a 9 to 5, raise little dreamers and grill burgers in your underwear during the Superbowl. Today we empty our piggy banks and fill our travel tanks. The journey is worth it.