As the new year approaches, many will be sitting down and creating their list of resolutions for 2016. Those itching to see the world are likely to have “travel” somewhere on that list, but this probably appears after the resolution to become debt free. How can I travel while I’m in debt?
But you don’t have to be debt free to travel! Everything we need in order see the world can be ours for cheaper than it ever has been before, and there are many people out there traveling while still actively paying off their debt. I traveled for 5 years before I was debt free. How to travel the world with no money
With a little bit of research, some careful planning, and using the following tips, you can manage to pay off your debt while exploring the world! You’ll find that traveling while still paying off debt is not only possible, but often very affordable too. Can I still travel even though I have a lot of debt?
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Cash Only – Pay For Your Travel Up Front
The most important thing to consider when aiming to travel while paying off your debt is if you can actually afford to do it. This means not putting travel on your credit cards, and paying for everything up front, in cash.
If you can’t afford to pay for your trip upfront and still make payments towards your debt, you shouldn’t travel. If you can afford to pay for it with cash, while still having enough for your monthly repayments, then travel away!
This may mean traveling differently than you have in the past, and possibly making sacrifices to save. For example, your idea of a vacation could be 5 star hotels. Instead, consider options for free accommodation like house-sitting, home exchange, or couch-surfing. How much debt is too much
If you can’t afford international travel, think about short weekend trips and staycations; local travel to discover your home state instead of jumping on a 24 hour flight. Shorter trips count as travel too. The excitement is in experiencing something new.
There are many people traveling the world on less than $25 a day, so while you may have to travel differently to achieve it, there are endless opportunities out there for budget travelers while keeping a manageable hold on your debt.
Do Your Research
Traveling while in debt means you need to do extensive research. You’re going to have to stick to a tight budget, and that means completing hard research on your desired destination. How much is the average cost of food? What is the average cost of accommodation? Are there free attractions and cheap things to do? Can I still travel if I’m in debt? Should I put travel on my credit cards?
For accommodation, use third party booking sites to find the most competitive rates. And compare prices across 3 or 4 sites. Don’t forget about renting houses or condos through sites like Airbnb, and make sure to also look up the prices at hostels. Do people travel the world while paying off debt?
Hostels have come a long way with private rooms, and are usually available for a bargain price. You’re only looking for a place to sleep after-all; as long as you’re getting a room which is clean, it doesn’t have to be first rate.
Once you have your accommodation arranged, do the same for your travel transportation. After comparing prices on third party websites, and identifying companies with the cheapest rates, then pull up their websites directly, to see if they offer the same rates. Possible to travel while in a lot of debt?
Before you leave for your trip, tap into your social media network. Post a status update on Facebook or send out a tweet on Twitter, letting your friends know where you are going and that you’d love their recommendations on the best cheap eats and free things to do. If your friends don’t have any tips to share with you, chances are they will know someone who does.
If you’re looking for the cheapest travel deals, you’ll often need to be flexible with your plans, such as flying out mid-week, or traveling during off season. Prices drop during off peak season because the demand for flights is low, and this is when you can possibly save hundreds of dollars on your flight.
Each destination has a peak season, and this is when travel is most expensive. Also note that travel prices peak over holidays like Christmas, and holiday season is when airlines make the most of their money. The more demand there is for a ticket, the more expensive it will be.
Sign up for airlines newsletters to receive news on current deals and special offers. Many great flight deals are promoted via airline newsletters.
One of the biggest travel expenditures while traveling is eating. Especially, touristy destinations. To save your pennies, eat better, and have a truly authentic experience, eat with the locals. If an eatery is filled with local people, you can count on the food to be tasty and affordable.
Food trucks or carts are another delicious budget option. They usually offer quick and local favorites at a fraction of the price. Look them up on-line to find out their hours and where they will be located. Many of them even tweet out their current location. Possible to travel with student loans?
Street food is the tastiest, cheapest and easiest way to get a taste for local cuisine, and is generally the most direct route to forming a sense of a country’s culture. It’s an inexpensive way to eat, and will present you with foreign flavors which will blow your mind. And it’s very safe – direct those who tell you never to eat the street food to my post on the worst travel tips of all time.
Another great way to save some cash is to pick up in-season foods at a farmers or local market. It’s the perfect way to put together a low-cost and easy meal. Buy a bottle of sparkling water, some fresh fruit, a baguette, and cheeses to throw together a gourmet picnic to take with you on your day of free sightseeing. afford to travel with student loans? Travel while paying off debt
Shopping at local markets will not only save you some green, but you will also be contributing to the local economy. Travel with student loans
Utilize Travel Rewards
If, and only if, you’re able to use credit cards responsibly, consider getting a travel rewards credit card. When you first sign-up for a travel rewards credit card you will receive a bonus which is usually good for one round trip plane ticket. Many hotel chains will offer credit card rewards, and when signing up for a card with Hyatt, for instance, the card comes with two free nights at any of their properties, anywhere in the world.
Use your travel rewards card to accumulate even more mileage. You have to spend money anyway, so put it to work for you while you shop, pay bills, and travel by getting you miles. However if your credit score isn’t doing so well, skip this step. For those living in the US, you’ll generally need to aim for a credit score of at least 700. You don’t want to apply for a card, get rejected, and have it ding your credit report negatively.
Only use the credit card with purchases you will pay off that same day. No more charging up new debt to be able to travel.
Plan For Free Attractions
Spend your days walking and using public transit to see free sites and budget attractions. You don’t need to shell out the big bucks every day for a rental car or cab rides. Research where you will be visiting to find out more about their public transportation system. Many places have inexpensive metros, trains, and bus options. You can even purchase all day passes for around $5 in most cities. That’s a huge savings!
You can learn a lot about a place without spending too much money. Visit the tourist information center in the area to find out what free attractions are in that city. To save money on attractions with admission inquire about city passes. They can save you a bundle and are often times just a little more than what the price of just one attraction would cost you.
Look up museums, city parks, free walking tours, markets, churches, hiking, and even wildlife watching – there are plenty of free things to do while traveling the world. Is it possible to travel the world while still paying off student loans?
NEVER Skimp on Health Insurance
If you’re traveling in debt and the budget is tight, you’re probably looking for different ways to cut down. But you should NEVER skimp on international health insurance, and anyone who tells you to cut costs by traveling without it is a horrible human being. You should absolutely send them your $50,000 bill should you find yourself needing an airlift out of the Amazon.
International health insurance is one of those things that you never want to understand the value of but, if you have to, you don’t wand to regret having brushed off its importance. Because if you’re traveling in debt and something does go wrong, you’re going to very quickly graduate from being in debt to being bankrupt. And I don’t have any tips for traveling while sorting out bankruptcy. How to travel the world when I owe people money
And don’t think it will never happen to you. It could be something as simple as setting yourself on fire while fire-twirling (my sister in Thailand. She was pregnant at the time which made the situation far less amusing than it could have been.) Or slipping on a cobblestone street and breaking your nose.
One traveler in our post on the worst and most embarrassing injuries abroad lost his vision on a river cruise of the Rhine, and another found herself receiving stitches after an Asian air-conditioning unit decided to attack.
Domestic healthcare doesn’t cover your costs when you travel abroad, so you need to take out an insurance policy which specifically caters to travel. DO NOT go overseas without international health insurance if you’re traveling while in debt. It’s more affordable than you probably think, but if you decide you can’t afford to travel with it, then you shouldn’t be traveling at all.
Pro Tip: We go through Timothy Jennings at Individual Health who has a huge range of quality insurance plans which includes insurance with #GeoBlue.
GeoBlue is a worldwide insurer who offer the most complete set of benefits and services in the industry, and make their best attempt to arrange direct payment no matter which medical provider you see. That means no need to lay out any of your cash, and you don’t have to even worry about filing a claim.
For more information on health insurance contact Tim Jennings at email@example.com or click for a free quote.
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Photo credits: Hostel by Barnacles Budget Accom. Street food gallery photos by Austronesian Expeditions & Hansel and Regrettal. Sagrada Familia by Αλέξανδρος. Embarrassing traveler injury photos by Who Needs Maps, Backroad Planet and Contended Traveller.