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
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


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
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)

Thirty Over Thirty

If you have been following us at Unbelievably, then you know that we are a University of Montana classroom full of young bucks and does. There has not been a poll, but I would be willing to bet that the mean age is around 24 years. Allow me to take this opportunity, as the token “old” person, to clue you in to a few things that may be coming your way as you get older.

Thirty after Thirty


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After 30,everything hurts more. From stubbing your toes, to working out at the gym, you will just hurt more. You will get used to it, trust me.

After 30, it will be harder to maintain your weight. The foods you enjoy the most will now cling to your sides, like a child clinging to its mother. You will either have to work harder to lose it, or accept your new, fluffier self.

After 30, sleep will take precedence above going out. There will still be times you like to go out, but it won’t be the production it used to be. In the cost/benefit analysis, sleep will almost always beat anything else. When you do go out, it will be fun to look around and try to figure out if you are the oldest person there.

After 30, college is more difficult. Your future self is thanking you for getting this over with right now. When you are an older student, you are plagued by the constant references make by instructors who are younger than you about your generation. No, my generation was the tail end of Generation X, not the tech-savvy, self-entitled one so often referenced in the media. Some professors will patronize you with “life lessons” that you learned ten years ago. Especially the “life’s not fair” lesson.

After 30, it will become difficult to relate to people who are twenty-five or younger. You won’t watch the same shows, know the same songs, or use the same social media outlet. I love being around people that age, but small talk is almost impossible. Heck, I still watch Seinfeld. I still say “heck.

After 30, you are expected by society to be at a certain place in your life. If you are not, you will be judged harshly. Not married? No kids? Don’t own your own house? Don’t have an “adult” job, free of name tags and hair-nets? You will be judged as a person who is immature and cannot handle responsibility, not a person free of the demands of modern materialism.


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After 30, birthdays are just silly. Honestly, I can’t remember the last birthday present I ever got. I usually just look for who remembered me on Facebook, and fill up a growler or two.

After 30, you will struggle to keep up with trends in everything. You are no longer the demographic of choice, because you no longer have the highest lifetime value. Ads are not pointed at you, and it is just too much effort to keep up with all the new music, hairstyles, cultural trends, and hot new phrases. At your age, you have enough to remember.

After 30, there are rules. No more tattoos, no more spiked hair, and remember, certain outfits are no longer appropriate at your age. No more tank tops for you fellas, and for you ladies, no more miniskirts.

After 30, you will not have the same number of friends you have now. Everyone is just too busy for you. You will settle for few, carefully-planned visits with people you really care about, people who are worthy of your time and are who are loyal.

After 30, the personality you have is stable. This is what you have to work with, like it or not. It becomes more difficult to change, and you grow to find comfort in habits and routines. This includes beliefs. It is a good idea to challenge them from time to time, to see if you really are on the ethical path.

After 30, you will see the things you loved as a kid, and what you were into as a teen, get rebooted as something “retro” or “classic.” I saw a girl wearing a hoodie with the number “1979” on it. The year I was born. I still don’t understand why anyone wears clothing with dates on it. You will see all your favorite toys, shows, and movies reappear as new movies, toys, and t-shirts. You will cringe the first time you hear your favorite song from freshman year on the “oldies” station.

Big Wheels

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After 30, if you are still lucky enough to have your grandparents alive and well, you will be in the minority. This is the beginning of the losses you will have in your life, for most of you. I won’t tell you to get used to it, because you won’t. I lost my last grandparent almost twenty years ago, and I still think of her every day.

After 30, your body will not work the same way. You will be slower, you won’t be able to learn things as quickly, and will sometimes even feel betrayed. It might be helpful to re-interpret your body as something to take care of, put the correct fuel into, and accept its imperfections. Appreciate all the amazing things it can do, and above all, recognize that only 150 years ago, people usually only made it to 49 years old.

After 30, you will notice, ahem, physical changes. Spider veins, cellulite, gray hair, losing hair, hair in unexpected places, and painful joints. You won’t be able to tolerate temperature changes as easily, and you won’t have the stamina you used to have. There will be wrinkles. Sun spots will appear for those who tan. Try to accept it. You can’t really stop it. Take a good look at your parents, because you will probably age the same way that they do.

After 30, you realize that time is limited. You begin to waste it less, and value it more. Human perception of time speeds as age increases. Time will literally just fly by.

After 30, you will realize just how annoying you were at 16. The things you thought were so cool really aren’t. Never watch your favorite show you liked as a teen, because it will be forever ruined. Nothing is more uncomfortable than watching Saved By The Bell for me. Why did I think it was so funny?


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After 30, you realize just how cool your parents are. You appreciate who they are and what they have done for you. Their annoying behaviors will become funny stories you can bank for later recollections. You might even get a little teary-eyed when you see older photos of them, before they had the glasses and gray hair, before they joined AARP.

After 30, you will have different perspectives on what the younger stages of your life were like. You will begin to glorify them. You will re-imagine “good ‘ol days”, leaving out the bad parts. When I catch myself doing this, I just remember that they may have been good ‘ol days for me, but only because I was six and unaware of the situation. They weren’t good ‘ol days for my folks.

After 30, you will assume that people in their twenties don’t know what they are talking about. It is important to remember that these are people who deserve respect. They may talk about things they don’t know about, but you did that then, didn’t you? Maybe you should listen once in a while, you could learn something from them, in between all the “actually’s” and “likes.”

After 30, you will look in the mirror and see your mom or dad. You will hear their voices when you speak. You will even have some of the same mannerisms and quirks.

After 30, you will prefer quiet over noise. It is easier to sleep when it’s quiet.


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After 30, you will see the value in not always having the last word in arguments. Maybe.

After 30, especially for you ladies, you need to think about what your plans are in the realm of children. Don’t be pressured into having them just to appease some family member. Also, do not get married for that reason. It is time to be honest and realistic with yourself. That “someday” you talked about as a twenty-something has a limited shelf-life.

After 30, it hits you that in ten years, you are a legally protected status. No one can discriminate against you based on age at 40 and older, according to federal law. (In Montana, though, no one can ever discriminate based on age, young or old.)

After 30, the carnival rides aren’t so fun anymore.


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After 30, the things that you thought were boring when you were younger are nice and relaxing

After 30, you will worry more about cancer. You will have known someone who has it by this time, and it is no longer something that can’t happen to you.

After 30, you will adore your siblings. Your differences will be something that makes you smile to yourself.

After 30, you still won’t grow out of that feeling, every once in a while, that you are alone in the universe, no one understands you, and you are a social misfit.There will still be times that you will say something that would have been witty ten years ago, but isn’t anymore, followed by an eye roll and an obvious echo. But now that you are 30, you let it go and don’t waste energy on getting upset about it. Waste not, want not.

This won’t be true for everyone. Maybe your generation will figure out how to get rid of grays or wrinkles, or be brave enough to continue getting tattoos. This is just my experience as a person of 35 years, taking this class with you all. Thanks for being a part of my learning experience, and I wish all of you the best for your future!