words + pictures / PATRICK “PB” BARRIOS
You’re scrolling through Instagram, dreaming. You can already picture yourself at the beach.
But slowly, reality starts seeping back into your mind – job applications, assignments, your dirty laundry basket – all piling up until suddenly, it’s a wave, and it’s washed your plans of escape down the drain.
Screw the wave.
I’ve put together a list of tips to help you achieve your goals.
Make Shia LaBeouf proud, and follow your dreams.
Getting There: For the Frequent Flyers
NEVER book a flight without consulting the be-all and end-all of travel agents: Google Flights.
This blessed piece of modern technology searches pretty much every combination of airlines that would get you to your destination, and shows you the best possible price available for every day of every month. A bit of flexibility with your departure date could save you hundreds of dollars.
Also, if you’re going somewhere less-known, just fly to the nearest big city and take a bus from there. You’ll save a fortune, take in more scenery, and if you book an overnight bus, you’ll also save a night’s worth of hotel fees.
Getting There: For the Road Tripper
If there’s no ocean blocking your path, and you have a travel buddy, drive.
The open road, your friend passing you chips, James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful blasting from the radio – it’s hands-down the best possible travel experience, for three reasons.
- You get complete freedom. Decide not to go to Vegas? No problem. You can drive to Alaska instead.
- You’ll stumble upon the most random places and events. Once, I drove by a parade in a town so small that the whole town was in the parade. It was beautiful.
- I once rented a car with cooled seats (It’s worth it).
Further advice: Get a rental, and get insurance. It might seem expensive, but it’s not bad if you split it between friends, and you don’t want your car breaking down on a rural highway.
If you’re driving through North America, camp at campsites or sleep in the car.
It’s free and legal to sleep at Walmart parking lots. Park between a couple camper vans, and you might even get a few more minutes of shade in the morning.
Make sure you keep a window slightly open.
Otherwise, I suggest a mix of Airbnb and hostels. Airbnb is best for privacy and rest, while hostels are best for meeting other travelers.
In terms of affordability, if you’re traveling in a small group, Airbnb is supreme. I once stayed a week in the heart of Barcelona for $18 a night.
Just keep the following tips in mind:
- It’s worth expanding your search to include private rooms (as opposed to just full apartments). This will open up tons of central locations, for great prices.
- Pay attention to reviews. Some people complain for very valid reasons.
- Make sure the neighbourhood is safe.
If you’re by a beach, you might be able to sleep there. Just make sure it’s legal, that there’s no dangerous wildlife in the vicinity, and that you won’t be swept away by the tide.
Whatever you do, do not let your budget prevent your culinary exploration. Food is the best way to experience a different culture.
Just don’t fall for tourist traps. By walking just a block or two past major tourist centres, you’ll enter a universe of cheaper and better food.
If you’re in France, eat crème brulée. If you’re in Venezuela, get some arepas. If you’re in Portugal, buy sardines. Do this for at least one meal a day.
For the other meals, get groceries. Buy cereal for breakfasts, granola bars for snacks, and some food to cook at your apartment.
You’ve already saved at least a thousand dollars. As hard as it seems, it’s time to loosen your collar a bit.
Visit iconic locales, swig a few drinks, and buy a souvenir or two. Authentic and memorable experiences are often worth every dollar.
That said, some of your best experiences won’t cost a dime.
Most importantly: There is no better way to experience the views, scents, and magic all around you than to walk. Do so at every possible opportunity.
If you can, take it a step further. Walk between cities, or go on hikes.
I hope these tips help you. Please, if you’ve been dreaming of going somewhere, go there! There’ll never be a better time in your life to travel.
Yes, you’ll have to hustle a bit harder and save some money.
But you’ll fall in love with new places and new people, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the world, and you’ll come home a more complete person than you were.
And that’s what life is all about.