So you’ve always wanted to taste fresh mozzarella cheese in Italy or ride an elephant in Cambodia. But you have no idea where to start. Want some good news? This blog will show you the steps in planning an adventure with realistic suggestions for a tight budget.
Honestly, it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds to plan a trip. All it takes is research, patience and well, money.
Don’t start stressing and telling yourself you can’t do this.
I said, money, not millions.
Keep reading, you’ll be surprised when you find out how far you can travel with just $1000 dollars.
First, we need to ask ourselves these five questions:
Do I have a passport?
Where do I want to go?
How long do I want to stay?
Where am I going to stay? (Do I know anyone who lives there? How much are hostels?)
What’s my budget?
Lets start with the first question, “Do I have a passport?”
If yes, good for you. But do yourself a favor and check to see when it expires. Some countries won’t allow you to enter their borders if your passport expires within 6 – 8 months upon arrival.
If you’re an American citizen and don’t own a passport, then check out how to obtain one below.
Go to your local post office, Walgreens or any store that takes passport photos. You don’t have to dress for Vogue but make it count; it’s going to be your international identity for the next 10 years.
After you take the picture, you should receive two, 2x2 copies for about $7. The price varies depending on where you go.
You should always go to the U.S. Passports and International Travel website and follow their instructions.
If you’re too lazy to go check out their website (which is fine, I’ve had a long day too), then here is what you need to know summed up in bullet points:
$135.00 US Dollars ($110 for the actual Passport and $25 for the “execution fee”)
This part is important so pay attention:
Only ONE ORIGINAL COPY of the following:
U.S. Birth Certificate
Previous U.S. Passport (may be expired, must be undamaged)
Consular Report of Birth Abroad
Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship
A 2x2 color photo of your headshot (Walgreens picture!)
You can print or fill out the application online.
Once you have completed all of the above, go to the link and see where the closest Acceptance Facility is to you. Posts offices will work fine. All you have to do is drop it off and the rest is taken care of.
It may sound intimidating but I promise all it takes is patience & a picture.
Once you’ve sent in all of the above, the standard delivery of your passport is about six weeks. I know people who’ve received their passports within three weeks, but you can’t always bank on that. So leave yourself six weeks delivery time.
Now comes, the fun stuff!
WHERE DO I WANT TO GO?!
For me, this is the toughest part of the entire process because there are so many places to discover.
So for arguments sake, lets say we want to go to……the Philippines.
Yeah the Philippines! Lets go to their capital, Manila.
Sweet, we’ve decided where we want to go, but now we need to figure out how long we want to stay. This is where Hostelworld comes into play.
There are a bunch of different apps you can use when it comes to selecting hostels for your accommodation.. I use Hostelworld. This app gives up-to-date photos of the accommodations, actual reviews from travellers who’ve stayed there and most importantly, the cheapest prices.
So, we’ll use their website (Hostelworld) for this experiment.
But for future use, do yourself a favor and download the app so you can research the cheapest hostels whenever you want from wherever you are.
Okay, so we typed in Manila, Philippines for the dates of, lets say, March 7th- 21st, 2016.
Immediately we see multiple hostels ranging from $4.00 to $9.00 a night. Yes, you read that correctly. You can stay in a foreign country, half way around the world for a minimum of $4.00 a night.
Unbelievable, right? When I discovered this to be true, it opened a lot of avenues of possibilities for me. My entire view of travelling changed. Hopefully, after reading this blog, the feeling will be mutual.
Once people get past the shock of how cheap it is to stay in a hostel, the next question I get is: “Yeah, but Chris, how can you tell if it’s sketchy or not?”
Truth be told, you’ll never really 100% know until you get there but,
For me, the best ways to pick a hostel are by the following four categories:
Location – location is EVERYTHING (Can I wake up, walk outside and be in the heart of the city? Or when I wake up, will it take a 20 minute bus ride to get there?
Cleanliness – Don’t expect 300 thread count bed sheets, but you don’t need to stay in a dump. You are entitled to clean sheets and a decent bathroom to use while travelling.
Atmosphere – is this a relaxed, laid back hostel or the party scene? Both are fine, its whatever experience you’re looking for. .
Security – Do you need a key to enter the hostel? A wristband? Most times hostels will have lockers, but incase they don’t, sleep with your passport. Seriously.
If the hostel is within your budget and has good reviews on 3 out of the 4 categories above… then it gets the Been There Done That stamp of approval.
Alright, this next part may be a little confusing but hear me out. We aren’t trying to actually book our hostel right now.
We are just scoping out our options for when we get to Manila. We don’t want to handcuff ourselves by choosing a place to stay before we even get there.
Back to how to plan a trip you’ll never forget.
We’ve seen that we can get a hostel in Manila for at least $4.00 a night. So naturally, as a communications major, lets do the math.
13 nights x $4.00 = $52.00.
We can go to the Philippines for two weeks and our accommodation will only be $52.00.
Uhhhhh yeah, sign me up for that.
Next on our list will be the most painful for our wallets but very worth it: the airfare.
I use an app called, Skyscanner, for ALL of my flights. By far the best and cheapest airfare you’ll find (at least to my knowledge and experience) out there. Check out my post on how to get the best airfare.
We’ll use Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as our starting point.
As you can see, round trip, LAX to Manila March 7th – March 21st is $605. We’ll have one connection each way. I think we can live with that knowing we went to the Philippines for $605 round trip.
Which honestly, isn’t bad at all.
Accommodation (13 nights): $52.00
Airfare (round trip): $605.00
If you only have $1,000 saved, that leaves you with $350.
Yes, I can do math.
Communication majors know the struggle.
For the Philippines, you won’t be living like a king and queen but at the same time, you won’t have to be conscious about every single purchase.
It doesn’t cost anything to go to the beach everyday.
It doesn’t cost anything to walk around and explore the city.
On average, a beer will cost a feasible .95 cents and a three-course dinner is $20 (US Dollar). I think you’ll be able to make it work.
See? That wasn’t hard at all.
I hope this wasn’t too confusing for you guys. If you have any questions about anything we talked about today, don’t hesitate to ask me anything you want, seriously.
I want to help you get abroad and out of your comfort zone.
I check Skyscanner and Hostelworld every single day. Curious about going to Russia or Egypt?
You can map out the costs of the airfare and hostels in seconds from your couch, or wherever you are, maybe sitting in traffic, thinking “god, get me out of here!”.
Thank you for taking your time to read this post! Without you, there is no