“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
I have a love for traveling that knows no bounds. After visiting Europe in 2007, I always dreamed of living abroad. I got that wish in 2014 (a FULL seven years later) and left on a plane to Auckland, New Zealand to fulfill my dreams of traveling and going to film school. Best experience of my life. Since then my love of traveling has only grown to more extremes.
But, as we know with traveling, you’ve got to budget to get there. It was easier flying to New Zealand a year after I graduated because I was living at home and not paying any bills, so my whole income was dedicated to going abroad. Nowaways in my mid-20s, it’s a different story. We have to do this thing called like saving money or something.
But, here’s the thing. There is a way to travel cheaply! I know you’re cringing if you’re like me. Cheap sounds too good to be true and you’re probably thinking you’ll be in an un-air conditioned hut in the middle of nowhere. I need a pool to be feeling like I’m on vacation, am I right?
So, let me tell you about Nicaragua.
Last February I was tipsy at a wedding and I texted one of my best girl-friends and told her we were going to take a trip. Probably to Nicaragua. (Tip #1- find places where you can fly cheap. Nicaragua was <300$ roundtrip) She laughed and said sure. She didn’t realize I was serious until the next few weeks when I began to plan and make sure everyone was going to pay money. Six of us decided to go (this is tip #2- travel with friends). This way our bills were cut in half or more than half depending on how many could fit in a room/car, etc.
The first place we looked was airbnb. This is almost an obvious thing to check out nowadays. I’ve used it multiple times (although not internationally), but figured it was worth looking at. Since we decided on going abroad to Nicaragua and none of us had ever been there, we veto-ed staying in an airbnb as we wanted to be more familiar with the city before striking out totally on our own. So, my third tip would be to scour Pinterest! We found a lot of cheaper, awesome places by researching on that platform. Bloggers love to post where they stay and the deals they’ve gotten. You also find a lot of cool tips and places to check out. This is how we stumbled upon the Tribal Hotel in Granada! Honestly, it was the coolest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. I want to live there.
Hello, dream pool. This place was $135 a night when we stayed there- split in half with a partner, I’d call that pretty affordable! We got a wonderful free breakfast and the meals & drinks weren’t too bad. Grab some rum & snacks from the local convenience store and you don’t even need to worry about having too many expensive drinks (although the drinks at tribal are worth getting!).
My 4th tip would be to haggle for a good price. We were able to get our second (and last) hotel down to a significantly cheaper and more affordable rate. Sometimes going straight to the source is better than trying to find a deal on a sale site (but also look at these!). Luckily we have a negotiator in our group of friends who does not back down from a challenge. If you can offer a resort or hotel (especially not a chain) a fair price, they may agree on it with you – especially if you are traveling in an off-season. Even if they don’t drop down to what you want, they may still give you a nice discount or free amenities. We ended up getting a room with a pool this way! Yes, our own pool.
My 5th and final tip would be to not worry so much about money! Don’t get me wrong & go on a bender! Being in debt is never fun. But experiences are worth more than the money spent! You’ll never forget how much fun you had and your mind will open when you have new opportunities! Travel is always, always worth it. I wouldn’t be the same person if I hadn’t flown across the world by myself when I was 24. You have to just go.