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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Healthy Snacks for the College Budget

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Is there even such a thing as a healthy snack that isn’t bland, actually satisfies hunger, and doesn’t break your almost laughable college budget? The answer is YES! As an experienced waster of time on Pinterest, I have tried to make just about every recipe I’ve posted to my “College Food” board, and as many other Pinterest frequenters know, absolutely nothing turns out the way it looks on a pin…perhaps one of the more frustrating things in life. I would like to take a few seconds to inform you all that the following five recipes do, in fact, turn out just as beautifully simple as they appear in the pictures and won’t make you feel as though you’ve lost an arm or leg. A true blessing indeed.

ATTENTION DORM LIFE: these recipes are entirely attainable with painless modifications. Try them, I dare you.

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Cranberry Almond Energy Bites

This recipe is protein and nutrient packed and can be stored in the fridge/freezer for a convenient breakfast or on the go snack. My favorite use for these little bliss balls is as a pre-workout pick-me-up or as a cure for the infamous “hangry” hour. (serves about 16)

Prep Time: 5 min   Cook Time: 10 min   Total Time: 15 min

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1/3 c. almonds (or nut of choice), chopped
  • 1/3 c. shredded coconut
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 1/2 c. nut butter (peanut or almond are great)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Bake oats, nuts, and coconut in oven for 5 minutes. Stir and let cool. (If you do not have an oven, this step can be skipped)
  2. In a mixing bowl microwave nut butter for 20-30 seconds, or until runny, and add the baked mixture, honey, cranberries, and flaxseed (if desired). Form 1.5-2″ balls and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. TIP: wet hands after every 3-4 balls to help formation.

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Tuna and Avocado Bowl

This is by far the least expensive and easiest recipe consisting of only two main ingredients. Depending on the portion size, this can be used as a great protein packed, low carb lunch or snack at any time of the day. The ease of this snack makes it one of the best for on the go meal prep.

Prep Time: 5 min   Cook Time: 2 min   Total Time: 7 min

  • 1 can light chunk Tuna in water
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 chopped stalk of celery
  • 1 Tbsp. light mayo
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Strain tuna of the water, chop avocado into bite sized cubes, and finely chop celery.
  2. Combine all ingredients into a tupperware or serving bowl and enjoy.

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Chickpea Kale Salad

This simple recipe is full of great and unexpected flavor. It is easy to package and take on the go and satisfies mid morning, afternoon, and late night hunger pangs. The chickpea kale salad is another snack that takes little to no time to toss together and the cost of the ingredients is very minimal. Plate it with a full lunch or pop open that tupperware for an on-the-go treat. This snack will never disappoint!

Prep Time: 7 min   Cook Time: 1 min   Total Time: 8 min

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and strained
  • 3-4 leaves of kale, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine chickpeas, kale, parsley and garlic in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl combine lemon juice and olive oil and stir.
  3. Pour lemon juice and olive oil over the chickpea mixture and top with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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Cucumber, Avocado and Feta Salad

Quite possibly my favorite recipe to have on hand at all times is this salad. Great for pairing with a main dish or just a spoonful from the fridge on your way out the door. This is a salad that refreshes any time of year and keeps those jeans fitting the way they were meant to fit.

Prep Time: 5 min   Cook Time: 2 min   Total Time: 7 min

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 3 large avocados
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 c. crumbled feta
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Quarter the cucumber and chop into bite sized pieces. Slice avocados into bite sized cubes and juice lemon.
  2. Combine cucumber, avocado, feta, dill, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Serve and enjoy.

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Spinach and Banana Smoothie

The simplicity of this smoothie makes it a no-brainer when in need of an in between meal snack. It is packed with greens, protein and potassium, making it the perfect filler. Store this smoothie in the fridge and shake it up when in need of an energy boost.

Prep Time: 3 min   Cook Time: 2 min   Total Time: 5 min

  • 1 c. almond milk
  • 3 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 banana

Instructions

  1. Place ingredients in a personal sized or large blender and blend to desired consistency or until spinach chunks are not visible. Serve in a to-go cup or enjoy at home.

LET’S GET COOKIN!

Not only are these recipes affordable and quick, the modifications for personal preferences are endless. As a frequent sufferer of the “hangry”, I swear by these simple fixes and can say from experience that they actually look like their pictures.

DISCLAIMER: failure of recipe presentation that matches these images is probably due to user error 🙂

 

 

10 Backpacking Hacks: Travel Like Indiana Jones

countrysign

By Joshua Harper

Everyone loves to travel. You see spectacular places, meet amazing people, and make memories you’ll never forget. As it turns out though it’s a pretty expensive hobby to have. After an accumulated one year abroad spanning some twenty-one different countries I’ve learned a few things about traveling and how to do it right, but more importantly how to do it cheap. Being homeless for two weeks in Northern Europe and sleeping on beaches across Southern Europe are great character building experiences but my tips will help you avoid them.

Disclaimer: Backpacking is not vacationing. Anyone that’s ever properly backpacked knows you’re in it for the experiences and not the comfort.

1. Travel Light

If you go two weeks without touching something in your bag, take it to the nearest lake, river, or ocean and throw it in (please don’t actually do this). You’d be surprised how many people lug around a 62 liter backpack while also wearing another small backpack backwards. This is WAY too much. It’s a fact you’re going to be doing a healthy amount of walking during your trip so do your shoulders a favor and stick to a 42 liter backpack and one other small bag for easy access. If there’s no way you can fit everything you need with this setup then take less. You want to be prepared but don’t over do it. You probably don’t need the fifth snap back or more than 2 pairs of shoes and don’t take camping gear unless you think you’re actually going to camp. Remember you can always buy most anything you’ll need wherever you are. For those that still can’t make it work stop reading and go buy a suitcase. Here’s a list of a few useful items to take:
-Norwood mini LED flashlight
-REI Multitowel Quick Dry Towel
-Alpine Collapsable Spork
-Travel Journal
-Simple first aid kit

2. Airports=Cheap Hotels

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You have a flight from Heathrow airport to Istanbul leaving at 7:30 AM. You could spend the night in an expensive hostel just to wake up at 3 AM and pay an exorbitant rate for a forty minute shuttle ride, or you could just sleep at the airport. You’ll save on transport, you won’t have to pay for a hostel, and let’s be honest you really wouldn’t have gotten much of a last night in with that 3 AM wake up call anyway. You can attempt the party all night, crash on the plane method but weigh the consequences, missing a two or three hundred euro flight when you’re already broke could be detrimental. Besides there’s nothing like getting drunk with your travel mates in an airport (Again I’m not officially advocating this). It may not be the most comfortable night but then again you’re backpacking not vacationing.

3. Exchanging Currency is for Rookies

Never…Ever…EVER bring all your money planning to exchange it upon arrival. Besides not wanting to carry that much cash you’ll get taken over the exchange rates offered by most banks. Travelers check are a thing of the past and prepaid cards are the worst of all because if they’re stolen and you’re having trouble reporting it, the process is difficult, you often can’t get the money back. They also have the added handicap of not being as wieldy as cash. Whenever travelling take two debit cards so you can incrementally withdraw local currency from ATM’s. Sure, most banks charge a withdrawal fee if you’re out of country, but it’s usually pretty comparable to the fee you pay for exchanging anyway. Also you only have to withdraw as much as you need so you won’t end up in Thailand with one hundred thousand Cambodian Riel. As a backup take a credit card and one or two hundred US dollars that should only be exchanged in case of an emergency. Oh, and it should go without saying but notify your bank that you’re leaving so your cards don’t get cancelled the first time a charge from Phnom Penh, Cambodia shows up.

4. Kindle for the Win

You might think you’ll be too busy trekking through jungles, taking in the culture, and meeting interesting people to read. You’re wrong. While you’ll do all those things the truth is there will also be endless hours of transit and more than one night where all you’ll want to do is curl up in bed and take it easy. Traveling is one of the best times to catch up on your reading because that’s just what you have, time. A thirty-six hour trans-mediterranean ferry provides a great opportunity to finally read Game of Thrones like you’ve been saying you want to do since season one. Most likely the one book you thought would get you through six weeks will be done in three days and you’ll be stuck deciding between the Hunger Games in Turkish or an an abandoned copy of Crime and Punishment to occupy the rest of your trip. Just bring a Kindle and have access to as many books as you want while taking up barely any space in your bag.

5. Negotiate!

Don’t underestimate how much money you can save by negotiating and I don’t just mean over souvenirs in a market. Negotiate for everything from tour guides to renting rooms in a hostel. Maybe you hate it and think your chances of success are low but you’ll get better and find that more often than not people people would rather drop the price a few euros than see you walk away. Getting better at this process is essential to backpacking especially in certain countries like Morocco where everything is negotiable and simply saying “no” to vendors sometimes feels like it requires a business degree.

6. Live Together, Die Alone

If you’re traveling with friends for any extended period of time you’re going to get sick of each other eventually. If you travel alone you’ll get sick of the alternate personalities you make up to keep yourself company. Either way, other people are going to be your saving grace. Not only will you get to spend time with anyone other than who you’ve been stuck with for the past five weeks but you’ll save money too. Group rates are very real and it’s a lot harder for a hostel owner to say no to your negotiations when there are five rooms on the line instead of one. Most importantly traveling is all about meeting people and sharing your cultures and experiences. Dont be shy! Go make new friends and build that international network so you’ll have a couch to crash on no matter where you go.

7. Bread for Days

One of the best parts of visiting somewhere new is trying the food and restaurants know it so anything even remotely related to the local cuisine is going to be sky high expensive. You need to come to terms with the fact that every meal in Italy won’t be gourmet pasta or pizza. Allow yourself one nice meal a day and scrape by the rest of the time on freshly baked bread. It’s dirt cheap and made fresh every morning, so learn to love it. Oh, and don’t forget to eat fruit every few days. You don’t want scurvy.

8. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

You’ve probably heard that a Eurail pass is the best way to traverse Europe. This is definitely true if you know the exact countries you plan to visit and order the pass months before you leave. If you’re like me and travel more spontaneously (or anywhere other than Europe) you need to master the art of finding cheap transit. This might mean cramming shoulder to shoulder into a rickety bus, praying it doesn’t topple off a cliff as it chugs along winding roads through the Luang Prabang mountains in Laos. Your wallet will thank you and if you survive you’ll have a great story to tell. Talk to the locals and find out what they use to get from place to place because though it can be tough to find it’s almost always going to be cheaper. For example MeinFernbus is a bus company in Germany that offers rates at nearly one fourth the price of trains but can’t be easily found in a Google search.

9. Go With the Flow

Things are going to go wrong. That’s the nature of traveling so you need to be ready to pivot and make the best of a bad situation. If you’re island hopping in Greece there’s a decent chance you’ll stop somewhere for a day only to learn the ferry to the next island you want to visit doesn’t leave for a week. If this happens don’t get caught up trying to stick to your plan. Go with the flow and pick a new destination even if it’s only to connect somewhere else. Maybe you want to go North but you meet a cool group of backpackers heading East. Be flexible and don’t live or die by your plan so you don’t miss out on an unexpected, spontaneous adventure. If you planned to spend five days in Athens but feel like you’ve seen everything you wanted, talk to people and pivot, you might end up trekking to the clifftop monasteries in Meteora.
10. Timing and Planning

In essence this tip boils down to being knowledgeable about where you’re going and what’s happening while you’re there. A few friends and I planned a four week road trip through Morocco and upon arrival learned that Ramadan had just started. For those of you that don’t know, Ramadan is a month long holiday where members of the Islamic faith fast while the sun is up. We could eat but it made finding a meal during the day more difficult. Normally bustling streets looked like a ghost town during the day as everyone, not eating or drinking, took shelter inside to avoid the blistering heat. Where once we would have seen many backpackers we only met a handful for our first few weeks there. Although I enjoyed the cultural experience it was a very different trip than we had planned and it would have been tough to do alone and nearly impossible, or at least quite expensive, if we hadn’t rented a car. Don’t give up your spontaneity just do a little research before you leave. Trust me, you don’t want to miss a full moon party in the Thai Islands by a day because you booked your trip months in advance without ever looking into it.

Bonus Tip – Put the Camera Down

Pictures are a great way to remember the amazing experiences you’ve had while traveling. Despite this it’s important to remember you still need to live those experiences. With so many social media networks we spend a disproportionate amount of our lives being social online rather than in the real world. Take advantage of down time to send pictures and give updates but don’t try to instagram every photo you take as soon as you take it. Don’t view the world from behind the lens of a camera.