My name is Lynn and I’m 29. I’m from the central coast in California, currently living in Sydney, Australia. I used to spend my time wondering how to save money traveling, but it worked out in the end and I spent my 20’s seeing the world.
I had this dream of seeing all 7 continents by the end of my 25th birthday and all 50 states by my 30th birthday. Not just visit these continents, but really see them. I didn’t want to go to just one country and say “I’ve seen all of Europe! Or I’ve been to South Africa, I’ve done Africa!” I knew I could make it happen but the big problem was money. How does someone under 25 afford something like this? It’s possible, and it’s been done. Here’s how I did it…
1. Shop around for tour companies
For a female traveling alone, this was not only safe, but they also offered discounts. Not only are there plenty of last minute fees, but there are also discounts offered for returning guests. Some of the tour companies would even let you stack your discounts on top of each other. I had a few tours that were 70% off!
Many of the tour companies I went on also catered towards 18-35 year olds. One tour company was offering buy 1 get 1 free. I convinced a friend to go with me and we split the cost for one person. Which is a great idea if you don’t want to go it alone – so shop around.
2. Join a frequent flyer program
It’s worth it. Many airlines are partners with other airlines. By flying with them (which you have to fly to get to countries anyways) you gain points. The more you fly, the more perks you get including free upgrades, additional luggage to check in and even free flights from enough points saved up. The best part? Frequent flyer programs are free to sign up for. I saved up so many points I was able to get a round trip tickets from New Zealand to California and even got upgraded!
3. Book through one source
In my case I used Expedia. Similar to frequent flyer programs, the more you book through Expedia, the more points you earn. Points can be refunded for hotel stays. Have a look for one source to book things through that actually rewards you for returning, and make sure you check prices in private browser to get the best deal.
4. Use a hotel chain for points
There are groups of hotels that are under the same umbrella of a points program. Staying at these hotels have allowed me to get free nights at hotels. Even double when I book these same hotels through Expedia.
5. Get multiple savings accounts
There are some banks that don’t charge you to have multiple savings accounts. I always had 1 checking account opened for bills, and 2 savings accounts; one for travel and one as an emergency fund. The travel savings account was put into a special savings account where my money could accrue interest. My money would make money by sitting in that account. The longer you keep your money in that savings account, the more you make. In my case, I had to give 60 days notice to withdraw the money.
6. How to still have a life while saving.
I allocated myself an allowance while saving to travel. I would go out on week days where there were cheap movies. Most cities have local magazines where discounts are offered. I went to an opera in London for 5 pounds, had 3 course dinners in Asia for $10 including a glass of wine. Keep a look-out for these magazines, there are amazing deals waiting to be discovered.
7. Never underestimate loyalty discounts
I was quoted $10K for my trip to Antarctica, and that was just the cruise down there, not including flights. The savings account I opened up to accrue interest was specifically for Antarctica. When I finally had enough saved and took out the money, I went with a company I had previously travelled with on 4 other trips-they gave me 60% off of my trip with my loyalty discount stacked with other discounts they were offering.
I had extra money, so I booked on a trip to Argentina and Brazil and still had enough to pay for my flights. I booked my hotel through Expedia, using points to pay for it. On my flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia (where the cruises leave for Antarctica) I was a frequent flyer and they upgraded me to business class!
As a side note, this time next year all 50 states will be complete!
Photographed by Career Girl Daily at The Dorsett Hotel. Makeup by Jana Pirosko. Written by Lynn Torbert.
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