I’ve definitely felt that some places have been “off-limits” on some of my travels. As mostly a budget traveler, there are have been destinations that I have chosen to put off because I don’t think I can afford it until later. It took me a while to realize that it was my thinking rather than reality that was keeping me from seeing these places, and that there were budget options available if I looked hard enough.
Many ask how I am able to afford a lifestyle where I am constantly on the road. Much of this takes a little bit of planning and research into which flight deals could work (and how flexible I am to go to the places where the deals are offered), and being willing to allow a less-luxurious experience. I’ve had 16-hour layovers that ended up being a way to explore a new city while I waited to get to my final destination, taking more time on train rides, and being willing to forgo comfortable accommodations.
Daniel and I went to Norway about a year and a half ago. Norway was not on our list of destinations, and we were operating on an extreme budget. We happened to get round-trip flights to Oslo for $300—which seemed too good to pass up. After looking at prices in Norway, we knew we would have to be creative in order to find a solution that would work for us and how much we wanted to spend. There were very few hostels available, and they were not that much less expensive than a hotel room.
I contacted the Oslo Tourism Board, which was more than kind as they set us up in a hotel room for three nights so we could explore the city. Oslo was more expensive than we even realized going into it, so we took to the streets to find food carts and cheap places to have a meal. We might not have experienced Oslo’s finest cuisine, but we enjoyed sitting by the ocean and munching on some of the foods that the locals were into.
Couchsurfing was never something I had considered on former journeys (which has made me a little nervous as a young woman traveling alone), but since Daniel and I were traveling together, I felt comfortable giving in a try. Not only did it end up being free, but we also made a connection with our host. Henning was an incredible guy with an interesting history, and between meals and tours throughout his home in Moss, we developed a good friendship (and we’re looking forward to seeing him again this fall).
Along with a free hotel room, the Oslo Tourism Board also gave us passes to enjoy all the museums for free. Even many the museums we didn’t have passes for were more than affordable. And of course, walking was the best way to really see what the culture was like and the city. And best of all, walking was free and was a great way to get some exercise.
Norway was by far of one of the most expensive locations we visited, but we more than managed to make it work with the budget we had. Much of traveling with limited funds is being able to think creatively. It took me some time to realize this, but I no longer let my budget affect whether I journey to a new spot or not. If you’re flexible and willing to experiment, you can find a way to see almost anywhere in the world.
Have you been to an expensive spot on a budget? What was your experience?