As fellows with a limited budget for living, and at the same time with the excitement to explore more states in the U.S. we need to save money before even thinking about minimizing travel costs.
It is very important to track your money and try to cut down things that are luxury and focus only on the things you need. For example, you can cut down Uber/ Lyft even if that would save you 2 dollars, and use only public transportation even it takes longer time. Maybe this plan doesn’t seem tempting, but if you try it for one month, you will surprises that you can save at least $350 per month which is enough to cover one round ticket from DC to Seattle. For me, by only cooking at home, I can decrease my food costs from $650 to $300. Of course, during this month I will not even go to Starbucks for coffee and I will rather make it at home.
I have been to many states in the U.S. not during my fellowship but while I was pursuing my master’s degree. I used to get the same limited stipend. However, I have been to DC, Chicago, Texas, and New York, in addition to Canada. Let’s assume that you have little money and you want to travel.
You need to follow the following steps:
- Check your calendar for possible travel. You need at least 4 free consecutive days other than the days of the travel. Choose Tuesday or Wednesday for the days of the travel as those are the cheapest days.
- Use skyscanner.com and choose the cheapest month. It will detect the cheapest prices in green.
- After deciding where to go and what are the places you want to visit, check if there is a city pass that you can use. It is cheaper if you decide to see different sightseeing for a limited period of time.
- If you don’t have family or friends that you can stay with. Avoid staying in hotels. Hostels or motels are way cheaper. You can book the one night for $12 and up to $30 at a max.
- If the state is close, you can go by bus or train. They have flexible timing as you choose it at night so that you can sleep and don’t waste the time of your trip.
- You can check the deals and coupons online. For example, “honey” add-in is a good detector for coupons online and you can enjoy for less.
- While you are there, don’t eat at fancy restaurants. You can eat fast food from food trucks in the streets unless you want to try some traditional recipes. Some hostels allow you to cook too.
- If you are going with a group of people, you can move using shared Uber/ Lyft because you don’t want to waste your time on public transportation while you are exploring a new place. You can use bikes or scooters for fun. They are cheap and allow you to discover hidden places of the state.
- Track your money again and don’t buy expensive and big-size souvenirs. Think about packing back home and buy only things that light, cheap, but reminds you of good memories.