Traveling in Your 20s on a Budget

Baylee Barckley

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Thailand is a very popular tourist country for young travelers. Koh Phi Phi, specifically, because you can enjoy the Phi Phi Islands with white sandy beaches and clear blue water. The only way to get to these islands is by ferry or boat. This popular destination spot has diving and snorkeling that get great reviews from travelers. Also, the Phi Phi Island have made a few movie appearances, like The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. An interesting fact about the Phi Phi Islands is that Phi Phi Leh is free of human inhabitants and Phi Phi Don is without roads. This is a destination to relax and enjoy the views for a couple days. While Koh Phi Phi may be the more expensive option in Thailand, it is still inexpensive to visit compared to other countries.

CostAvg daily price for traveling in Koh Phi Phi: $66
Avg price of food: $11 (per day)
Avg price for a hotel: $73 (per couple)
MealsFood: $3 to $28 (depending on style of food)
Beer: $2.30
FlightsLAX to Phuket City: $582
*depending on departing airport
TransportationFerry to island: $12 to $18 (one way)
AttractionsDeep Sea Fishing: $85
Rock Climbing on cliff: $31 (Tonsai Tower)
Learn to cook Thai Food: $16
Sunset Kayaking

Arenal Area, Costa Rica

Being one of Costa Rica’s most popular destination spots, Arenal Area offers a beautiful hiking area, a lake, and the very popular La Fortuna waterfall sitting at the base of a volcano. A few things to see while visiting Arenal is the Arenal National Park where you can see wild life, hike trails, and see a great view of the sunset. The hot springs are also another necessary stop to make in Costa Rica. These natural hot tubs are located at the base of the volcano that you can take a dip in after a long hike. If you want to take a closer look at the crater of the volcano you can take a tour via the hanging bridges. Arenal Area is different than most traveling spots, but it offers attractions that other places can’t.

Flights LAX to San Jose: $450
*depending on departing airport
HotelHostel: $10 to $15 (shared room)
Budget Hotel: $50 to $70 (private bathroom, A/C, hot water)
Mid-Range Hotel: $100 to $200 (A/C, hot water, TV, Wi-fi, complimentary breakfast)
TransportationPublic Bus: $4
La Fortuna Bus: $2
Taxi:$5
Bike Rentals: $6 (half day)
Easy to get around on foot
MealsLunch: $8 to $12
Beer/ Cocktails: $2 to $3
AttractionsHanging Bridges Tour: $23
National Park: $9
Zip Lining: $50 to $85
Rafting Tour: $70 to $130
Kayak Tour: $50 to $75

Albania

Traveling to Europe is perceived to be costly, but Albania is an exception to this rule. Albania is a much more affordable place to live than other areas in Europe, which benefits young travelers in there 20’s in getting to experience a little bit of Europe. One of the top attractions in Albania is the castle in the city of Shkoder. An interesting attraction for tourists is a rotating bar in Tirana called The Sky Tower Bar. You can enjoy a nice cold beer while slowly spinning 360 degrees getting to see Tirana at all angles and watching the sunset. If you are interested in learning about the history of Albania, you can visit an abandoned bunker museum in Tirana. Another attraction that other destination spots don’t offer is wild camping on the Albania’s beaches. The Albania Riveria is a major attraction to Europe by young travelers because of the reputation it has with being a music location hosting music festival like Turtle Fest. Also, nightclubs, like Havana Beach Club draw people in their young age across Europe.

CostHotel: $47
Airbnb options
MealsFood: starting @ $5.50
Beer: $2
Coffee: $1.30
TransportationTaxi: $2.30
FlightsJFK to Tirana: $500
*depending on departing airport

Havana, Cuba

Havana being the capital city of Cuba has always been a popular tourist destination with vintage cars and colorful Spanish colonial architecture; however, it wasn’t always that Americans could go visit Cuba. In December 2014, the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba was restored, but not without a few traveling restrictions. In order to book a solo travel experience to Cuba it needs to be for educational purposes. This is where you meet Cuban citizens in normal daily life setting, like school and community centers. One of the adventures you can take part in is riding in a vintage convertible for an hour cruising up and down the avenues of Havana. Something that is a must see in Cuba is the El Malecon, a five-mile-long boulevard that stretches along the water, with Havana Bay on one side and Old Havana, Vedado, and Central Havana on the other. At night, many Cubans come to watch the sunset with their loved ones, drink and laugh.

CostAvg daily price for traveling in Havana: $18
Avg food price: $5.39 (per person)
Avg price for hotel: $17 (per couple)
Avg drink price: $2 (cocktails) $1 (beer)
TransportationPrivate Taxi: $2.50 to $7 (within city)
Shared Taxi: $0.50
Viazul Bus: $4 to $5 (reliable schedule and A/C)
City Bus: $0.04
Scooter: $25 (per day)
FlightsMiami to Cuba: $275
*depending on departing airport
AttractionsMuseum of the Revolution: $8
Vintage Car Ride: $15 to $25 (30 min)
Horseback Riding: $115 (3 hour trip depending on city)
Scuba Diving: $40 (including equipment)

Bali, Indonesia

Bali is a place that only requires a traveler to walk outside to enjoy themselves. This city, also known as, the Island of the Gods, is meant for exploring. Surrounded by beautiful seas and golden-brown beaches, Bali is a surfer’s dream, which you can do in Kuta Beach, the most famous beach in Bali. Don’t know how to surf? Across the sand bar you can sign up for surf lessons. The Island of Gods also offers other attractions like the Ulun Danu Temple. This building is one of the quietest and most serene places on the island. The Bali Treetop Adventure Park is ready for an afternoon of adrenaline, but also is great for families and children as young as 4 years old. Other attractions tourists can’t miss out on are the caves, museums and parks that Bali offer.

CostAvg daily price for traveling in Bali: $63
Avg price for food: $19 (per day)
Avg price for a hotel: $74 (per couple)
FlightsLAX to Denpasar: $850
*depending on departing airport
Transportation
Motorbike: $20 to $30 (per week; need international license)
AttractionScuba Diving: $100 (per day for 2 dives; includes lunch, transportation, and equipment)
Massages: $10 (per hour)
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Winter at the hot springs

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We all heard of the idiom “early bird gets the worm”, probably from your parent, or someone like my friend Michael! I used to, who am I kidding, still am the one who sleeps in till 10 am and can’t fall asleep before midnight.

When I moved to Missoula, MT to study business at the Uni, I got introduced to a community of fun, down-to-earth and adventures photographers, which became really good friends of mine! At the end of summer 2017, I was invited by the supeeeeer duper talented and the sweetest Michael Graef on a VERY early sunrise exposition (4am kinda early!) somewhere outside of Missoula and as much as I thought I could pull myself out of bed, I simply couldn’t. But, there was a time when I agreed to get myself out of bed one morning and meet with the group that was going. To be completely honest, that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

On the day to day basis I love sleeping in as much as I can, but when it comes to getting up to get with a group of creatives, my camera, and explore new areas I am ALWAYS down!

Few nights ago, I got a message from Michael about going to the hot springs in the am with a few other friends, and I will likely never turn down that opportunity, especially on a Wednesday morning when the chances of us getting an empty pool are very high.

Here are a few of my favorite photos of Meghan from that morning, and you can find some behind the scenes in my “Sunrise” highlights on my Instagram @fotografed_ .

Aleksandra Was

Ser un viajero, not a tourist

 

 

As college students, we talk a lot about traveling the world, experiencing different cultures, and expanding our worldview. How can we do this in a way where we can truly begin to understand a culture? To me, this means to be a traveler (ser un viajero in Spanish), not a tourist. I prefer to travel in a manner that separates me from the typical tourist and allows me the opportunities to experience the types of connections with people and place that begin to foster a deeper understanding.  Here are a few tips that will help you see the true nature of a new place in short time.

Put away the travel guides.

Sorry, Rick Steves and Lonely Planet. Yes, you can find a wealth of information about any city or country in these books. Peruse them for details on must-see sights, but don’t use them to decide where to eat or sleep. You will be directed to places where you will encounter more tourists than locals, and miss the places that carry the true vibe of a city. Depending on a travel guide is like dipping your toes in the surface of the lake, compared to jumping off the dock and diving in!

Moclín, Andalucia, Spain Photo Credit: Rafael Olieto

Use public transportation – and your own two feet.

Taxis are expensive, but even if your budget allows, you will learn more about a place and its people on buses and in the subway. You will need to study maps and the layout of a city, the names of the streets, instead of placing your navigation in the hands of someone else. And allow free time in your schedule to wander and explore by foot, getting lost in the true sounds and smells and colors of the local culture. The best memories I have of Marrakesh are the streets that weren’t full of tourists, walking in the heat, smelling the food being cooked in the homes nearby. Or in Granada, climbing up and through the twisting streets, never knowing where one would end up.

Granada, Andalucia, Spain Photo: Vickie Rectenwald

Talk to strangers. Learn at least a few phrases of the local language.

You don’t have to proficient in another language, but knowing a few key phrases will allow to you to connect with the random person on the street who will send you to his uncle’s corner bar where you will eat the most amazing tapas, or to the quaint little café where no one speaks English but you will fall in love with the pastries and rich coffee. I have been fortunate to have made some great friends just because I was willing to ask a few friendly questions.

Let go of expectations.

You will encounter everyday things that are so different from what you are used to. Paying for the use of a toilet, the lack of wi-fi in every corner, no to-go cups for coffee, and nudity in advertising are just a few examples I encountered in Europe. Suspend your judgement and let go of the attitude that what is familiar to you is the best way. Smile, enjoy the things that force you to slow down and reflect.

Moclín, Andalucia, Spain Photo Credit: Rafael Olieto

Eat the local food.

Even if you do not completely understand the ingredient list, or how to pronounce it, give it a try. American food has found its way into most corners of the world, and you will have plenty of chances to have pizza and burgers when you get back home. But you will regret not giving your palate the chance to explore.  When I was in Spain, I was hesitant at first to try caracoles (snails). I took a deep breath, probably closed my eyes, and hoped I would not make too gruesome of a face in front of my hosts. Surprisingly, I was delighted with the salty, earthy taste. Caracoles became one of my favorite Spanish delicacies, and I definitely cannot find them in Montana!

Caracoles in Linares, Andalucia, Spain Photo: Vickie Rectenwald

I plan to continue to travel to new places and gain insights into other cultures. I hope my list of favorite foods grows and expands. But most of all, I plan to continue making friends around the globe that enrich my life.

I hope you find these tips useful, and I also hope that you can travel and learn in whatever corner of the world pulls at your heart. Thanks for reading, and please share your own travel tips in the comments below!

Vickie Rectenwald studies Marketing, International Business, and the world around her. She lived in Granada, Spain for a year, and has also traveled to Morocco, France, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii. She will try any food once and can always find something in common with the person she is speaking to. Follow her travels on Instagram @montandaluz.

Traveling Europe: Looking Back.

 

 

Last year I made one of the best decisions of my life and decided to take (another) semester off from college and backpack around Europe for two months with my best friend. This was my first time, and hers, traveling outside of the United States. As you would imagine we were overly excited, nervous, and had no idea what to expect before we left for this crazy adventure. Although it was the best experience and trip of a lifetime, there were definitely some things I would have done differently and certain things I wish people would have told us before we left.  So, I am going to share my top 6 tips/lessons I learned that I wish I would have known before traveling to Europe!

  1. Eat EVERYTHING.

And I mean everything. Don’t be worried about gaining an extra couple pounds—you will regret not eating that authentic Italian pizza while you’re in Italy. Like who does that?! (yeah, we did that.. and it haunts me.) Even if you are gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, I don’t care.. you still eat the pizza.

Another tip along the lines of eating while you’re in Europe; if you want authentic food from whatever city you’re in, don’t eat on the main strips where they have pictures of food on the menu. The rule we learned (almost near the end of our trip) is to get good authentic food, go at least two streets back from the main square. Also, you don’t tip in Europe! Most places. That would have been a very nice thing to know before we left.

2. You Have To Pay to Use the Bathroom.

Yeah, this one was a shocker that I can’t believe no one warned us about. You have to pay to use public restrooms almost everywhere you go in Europe. I mean it’s only a quarter or fifty cense.. but it just would have been nice to know. Oh and FYI, bathrooms are called water closets and you will see neon signs that say “WC” and not “Restrooms” pointing you to their whereabouts.

3. Wear Pants At St. Peter’s Basilica.

If you plan to go to the St. Peter’s Basilica when in Rome.. wear long pants or something that covers your legs. We almost weren’t allowed in because my best friend was wearing a dress and apparently you cant have leg above the knee showing. BUT, luckily she had a blanket scarf to wrap around herself.. so we got to explore. And I’m so glad we did! Also, if you do  go there I would recommend everyone take the stairs to the top.. it’s worth it!

4. Slovaks Love Vodka.

I know this isn’t a stop on most people’s list, but just incase it is.. prepare your liver. My friend had relatives that lived in Slovakia that she wanted to meet for the first time, so we made a pit stop in Jaklovce, Slovakia for a few days. And what no one that had visited there before told us is… every time you meet someone new, they greet you with a shot of vodka and a mound of pastries. And let me tell you.. we met a lot of people. Even on Easter.. you obviously have to celebrate.. so, cheers! We took our first shot at 10 in the morning right after church. Even though Slovakia wasn’t the place we were most excited to go to.. we brought back some of the best memories from it. Since we stayed with her family we were immersed in their culture.. it was so cool and so eye opening. When in Europe, try to get away from the touristy type things and soak up as much of the raw culture as you can!

5. Splurge.

We were college kids traveling across Europe, so obviously we were traveling on a budget. But one of the biggest regrets we had was not splurging just that once to go hang gliding in Austria, or riding horseback through an Italian vineyard. You’re going to come back broke anyway, so spend the money on some kind of experience. And don’t wait for something better to come along or something “more worth it.” Because you won’t find it and end up at the end of you’re trip without doing any of those cool things you wanted to do.

6. Get Lost.

Looking back, I would have had more days where we didn’t have a plan and just walked around, purposely getting lost. I feel like that’s when we came across some of our best adventures and memories. It’s okay to not stick to the plan.

Overall, the trip was a great success and we made some unforgettable memories. These are just a few small tips that I wish someone would have told me before going and hope they can help someone else as they embark on their trip of a lifetime!

 

Post by Kelsey Cowan

 

Must Do New Zealand Adventures: South Island

Last winter break I did a winter session course to New Zealand. It is even more amazing than what is portrayed in The Lord of the Ring movies. It is literally paradise on earth, you have the best of everything. There are a range of climates from mountains, beaches, rainforests and volcanoes. No one-cent and five-cent coins, which means that most prices end in a zero, or are rounded up. Crosswalks have no lights so you can basically cross the road whenever you like, though there are a few exceptions in very busy areas. It doesn’t mean that you should stop watching for cars, not everyone stops for pedestrians. Restaurant bills are not delivered to your table you will either pay beforehand or have to go up to the register to pay. In some places they don’t keep track of what you have ordered; they will just trust you to tell them what you had. There is no tipping! There are also no snakes, venomous insects, scorpions and only has one venomous spider, which is very rare up to the point it has an almost mythical status. These are just a few things that make New Zealand even better. Though you can’t forget about the amazing sites and activities. Listed below are some must do adventures on New Zealand’s South Island, in no specific order.

Queenstown 20160101_211016

Queenstown is your typical tourist town, high prices and many people. Disregarding those things it is a very picturesque town on Lake Wakatipu with street performers, stores and restaurants lining the streets, a gondola and a beach. It is a great town to stay at for holidays, night life and shopping. There is also a gondola where you can get breathtaking views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.  Queenstown also has a mouth- watering burger joint called Ferburger. Their line is usually a half block if not a block long and their wide varieties of burgers are about the size of a young child’s face. The half-hour wait is soo worth it. To end, Queesntown is world-famous for adventure, this leads into my next topic…

Extreme Sports:20151229_14500520160101_14251420160101_143416

Since Queenstown is the tourist destination in New Zealand they offer a wide range of extreme activities such as skydiving, jet boating and bungee/bungy jumping. If you don’t know, jet boating and bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand. And many times we do spontaneous things while on vacation, so might as well do one of these activities. Jet boating is the ultimate water sport where you power your way through narrow river canyons. You all know what bungee jumping is, and there are two iconic spots to bungee jump a hour away from Queesntown. The first is Kawarau Bridge, a 43 meter (~141 ft) jump into the river below. It is one of the most popular bungee sites, attrackting thousands of thrill seekers every year. For the more daring there is the Nevis Bungy which is New Zealand’s biggest at 134m (~440 ft) above the Nevis River. There are age, weight and medical restrictions for many of these activities. Unfortunately, I ran into this problem at the Nevis jump, I was a few pounds short for their weight limit. At least I was allowed to travel to the jumping site that is held above the river by two wires to watch.

Mount Cook20160102_143204
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Mount Cook is the highest mountain and longest glaciers in New Zealand. There is a lovely day hike (more like 4 hours) to a small lake at the base of the mountain. The hike is pretty flat and has several suspended bridges that are fun to bounce around on. The scenery is amazing, mountains, a river, and flora that were unlike anything I’ve seen. The flora actually somewhat reminded me or a Dr. Seuss book, there were rolling grass areas with these
spiky looking plants that shoot straight up in the air. The trail ends at the small lake which was the chalky white color with small ice blocks. There was a small rocky beach you can walk down to to get to the lake from the picnic area. I have to say, the hike to the lake was more enjoyable than the ending destination.

Kaikoura20160105_210731

Kaikoura is a very cute, small town that is on the ocean and has rocky beaches. Kaikoura itself wasn’t that outstanding as a town but it too had amazing views and was home to many Maori people, the indigenous people of NZ, consisting of 3% of the population. There is a Maori tour ran by a Maori that I thought was worth doing, to learn about their history and culture. Kaikoura is also a popular spot to go whale watching and swim with the dolphins. I was fortunate enough to swim with the dolphins and it is something that I will always remember. As I have never been snorkeling I really got the full experience in this activity. Everyone had to wear a head to toe wetsuits with goggles and snorkel. Since the suits were so buoyant there was no need for life jackets. This was an activity I highly recommend. You are delivered as close as possible to a pod of dolphins. The time I went there were 30 or more dolphins swimming around you,  it was awesome! If you are somewhat claustrophobic this might not be for you. Being encased in a wesuit add in being in the ocean you feel alone and closed in. Even I had a tiny anxiety attack. Also don’t worry if the dolphins move away you get back into the boat to follow them. The time I went we were on and off the boat 5 times before we headed back. And like many similar businesses if the weather is bad or no dolphins are to be found you get a refund and are able to reschedule.

Christcurch20160105_110507 20160104_110230

Christchuch is the largest city on the South Island. In 2010-12 Christcurch experienced devistating earthquakes which forever changed the city. When I visited the destruction from the earthquakes could still be seen around the entire city. This was eye-opening to see since in Montana earthquakes are almost nonexistent.  It was definitely surprising and heartbreaking to see all the damage left. But what surprised me the most was what the city did after the earthquakes. They turned a horrible natural disaster into a new beginning. All around the city there were little innovated places. One was an area of temporary trailer sized businesses, another a musical park made out of recycled material. There was an area testing out 3D printed designs to grow plant and shops made out of train cars. The street art all over the city was outstanding. I just happened to be there during the Spectrum Street Art Festival that consisted of street art, graffiti, video etc. all around the city.

Abel Tasman National Park20160109_101241

Abel Tasman is a coastal National Park that has several beaches and has a wide variety of Flora and fur seal rookeries and little blue penguin populations. It is usually recommended to plan a whole day just for this. There is a very easy trail that stretches along the coast that leads to several different beaches, depending on how long you want to walk. If wanting to stay overnight there are a couple of lodges and campsites throughout the park. I would recommend kayaking one way and walking back the other. By kayaking you get a better view of the seal rookeries and maybe a little blue penguin. You also get a better view of the smaller islands just off the coast. I kayaked to this small, somewhat secluded beach for lunch and relaxing and then walked back. If plan to go all day take water, sunscreen and a swimsuit. The burning time this far south is 10 minutes, yikes! There are water faucets available at some areas but they are more for washing and rinsing, not drinking. The water is so beautiful and clear it would be hard to stay away, hence the swimsuit. Warning the one bathroom that was at the beach I was at was awful, it stank to high heaven. Not sure this applies to all but approach with caution!

Milford Sound20151230_140805 20151230_125349

Milford sound is within Fiordland National Park. This too is an all day trip. Even though from Queenstown it is located an hour away, straight across, due to road regulations in NZ getting there was more like a 4 hour trip. If you do a bus tour you pass through stunning landscapes including mountain ranges, glacier-carved valleys, crystal clear lakes and native rainforest. There are several things to do at Milford Sound such as, hiking, kayaking and cruises. The cruise was an ideal way to see Milford Sound. It is just over two hours, you get to see wildlife as well as the stunning waterfalls and steep mountain sides. The sights rival that of Glacier National Park, daresay, maybe even surpass those of Glacier.