Ask The Intern: How to plan affordable weekend trips abroad
Dear Danielle, my name is Miriam and I just got accepted to intern abroad in Colombia this upcoming spring. I am more excited than you could imagine! Though Medellin is great, I’m so eager to get the chance to explore other parts of the country and region while I’m there too. Do you have any tips for planning affordable weekend trips?
Hi Miriam, thank you so much for writing to us, and congrats on your internship in Colombia. As an expat myself, the ability to travel easily is one of my favorite parts about working overseas. Here are some tips for budgeting your weekend warrior adventures.
1. Take buses when possible
Why spend hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket when you can take a bus just as easily? Taking a bus can save you tons of money while also giving you the chance to see many different parts of a country you otherwise wouldn’t see while on a plane. If your journey is a long one, consider booking an overnight bus. Many bus companies offer semi-bed seats now. This will double as your accommodation for one night too, saving you even more money in the long run.
2. Find low-cost plane options for plan b
When you’re crammed for time and your journey is too far, you might not have another option other than a flight to see the places on your bucket list. Luckily, with travel becoming more popular, many countries and regions offer cost effective airfare. In North America, there’s Virgin Airlines or Spirit Airlines. Many European countries benefit from the existance of RyanAir or Easyjet. Similarly, in Latam, there’s Sky Airlines and other local cost-effective domestic airlines. Lastly, if you’re under 26 or a student, there are tons of promotions with STA Travel or Student Universe that can save you money when planning affordable weekend trips.
3. Stay in hostels
While I’m still young, I’d much rather stay in a hostel than a hotel. Doing so can save you usually two thirds the cost. Aside from the financial aspect of staying in a hostel, I personally love this option because it’s a great way to meet other likeminded travelers who later can become your friends, or future hosts during another trip. My favorite site for hostels is hostelworld.com.
4. Find accommodation with free breakfast
Once you’ve got your list of hostel options in front of you and you’ve narrowed them down by location, your next step is to take any off the list that don’t provide free breakfast. Free food at your hostel in the morning means you can splurge more on lunch or dinner later. Sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to grab extra bread or fruit to snack on during the day while you’re exploring.
5. Avoid tours, and read blogs instead
A common rookie mistake is paying for an expensive tour that you could have found online for free. Thanks to Google, I have found many backpacking routes for hiking, as well as map outlines of places to see in new cities. Of course, tours are an okay idea though if you want to learn more about the history in person rather than reading online. Personally though, I’d much rather go at my own pace than to join the crowd to save me money when planning affordable weekend trips.
6. Split meals with friends
My favorite part about traveling is trying new food everywhere I go. As you can imagine, this can get pretty pricey though. Instead of ordering everything yourself, order one dish and have your friend order another so you can try both. If you’re not full after, you can even split dessert.
7. Research free events
You’d be surpised at how far a simple Google search of “free things to do in ____ this weekend” will take you. From festivals, to concerts, to museum exhibits, most big cities usually have something free going on. Some of these events are first come first serve with a limited cap on how many people can join, so make sure to register early if necessary.
Photos and content by Danielle Ortiz-Geis