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Traveling on a tight budget and schedule

If you have a heart for adventure and an itch for wandering, leave that fear of the unknown behind and travel. Traveling is the perfect way to find out how other people live. You turn into a storyteller; you better understand other cultures, and discover the world for yourself.

Because of my parents’ wanderlust, I’ve had the privilege of traveling to 20 different countries, both with family and alone. I’m utterly cursed with the travel bug, and I want others to share my overflowing love for traveling.

ham tin

Kelsey Richardson and friends camp out at Ham Tin, one of Hong Kong’s scenic beaches

When I urge people to travel, 90 percent of the time the issue of money or time arises. “I’d travel if I had enough money” or “My job keeps me too busy” usually comes up. If you want to travel, you can make it happen. Dozens of travel blogs offer advice on how to travel on a budget and travel without risking your job.

To save you the trouble of spending hours researching different tips and tricks, I’ve provided my own list. By no means am I implying that I’m a travel expert, I just want to share a short list of tips that I found helpful when traveling. Hopefully my insider information will encourage aspiring nomads to break away from the daily grind.

Traveling alone can be a fantastic experience  of self-discovery and exploration. However, if you want to save money, travel with a partner; split taxis, food, hostel/hotel rooms, chores and any other activities to save time and money.

If you plan on traveling to a place with a decent metro/train system, find the cheapest flight closest to your destination and then take the train. For example, if you want to end up in Rome, but plane tickets to Florence are cheaper, buy the ticket to Florence and take a train to Rome. You’ll experience the wonder of both cities at a fraction of the cost.

Kelsey Richardson and her friends from Klook Travel taking a junk boat trip around Hong Kong

Kelsey Richardson and her friends from Klook Travel taking a junk boat trip around Hong Kong

Look into using www.airbnb.com. This company helps coordinate homes for travelers to visit for short periods of time. It’s safe, cheap and wanderers are able to get the true local experience through staying at someone’s home. If you’re not comfortable with staying at a stranger’s place, try out one of the many hostels spread throughout most countries. During the summer, I stayed in a hostel in Taipei for about a week, and I only paid $100. The hostel included a nice bed, free breakfast and free Wi-Fi.

Try to avoid touristy stores and restaurants. These places know you’re a foreigner and assume that you have thick wallets. Visit restaurants filled with locals. The food is usually more authentic and tastier. My favorite way to experience food in a new destinations is to try street food. You’ll save money and get a feel for the local dishes.

Find the means to travel offseason. The fall and spring are the offseasons for most destinations. The airfare and hotel/hostel costs are usually cheaper, and you can avoid crowded lines at the airport.

Use the money spent on a daily skinny chai latte to purchase a plane ticket. Those $5 saved daily can add up to over $1,000 in a year. This tip could also apply to cutting back on gym memberships, eating out and going to movies. The more leisure expenses cut out, the faster you can reach that goal of buying a plane ticket or making hotel reservations.

I’m well aware that not every job offers lengthy vacation time fit for traveling abroad; however, the idea is not completely hopeless. You just need to find creative ways of manipulating your career into a job that allows travel.

Taipei's nightlife illuminating the streets

Taipei’s nightlife illuminating the streets

This could be done through making a deal with your boss to take less pay for a selected amount of time in order to gain more vacation days. Also check to see if your job has multiple locations. When I interned with Klook Travel in Hong Kong, the company also had office locations in Shenzhen and Taipei. Through a little negotiation, my boss allowed me to spend a week working in Taipei. While I was still required to produce the same amount of work, I managed to explore the city on weeknights and the weekend.

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