How to travel on a budget after college, by TikTokers Travel

It’s practically a rite of passage for planning a trip after graduation. You have the main character’s energy, you have the time, and your best friends are in the same post-college boat, so you’re all free to travel the world together. Your bank account, on the other hand, may not be as bright as you will be once you graduate. If you’re looking to travel after college on a budget, that’s where the pros (aka TikTokers) come in.

When you flip through videos of overwater bungalows in the Maldives and scenic hikes in New Zealand the next day, similar luxury excursions can seem within reach because the world is literally at your fingertips. It can therefore be very disappointing to realize that your current finances do not lend themselves to your dream vacation. But aside from influencers getting free #sponsored vacations, many of your social media favorites also have to set budget limits.

“From a financial point of view, traveling has become much more accessible,” says Nina Zadefounder of Daily Sidewalk, who works with both TikTok influencers and travel agencies, adding that TikTok accounts that share money-saving travel hacks – like using points to book flights and hotels – have exploded in popularity. In turn, hotels and other parts of the travel industry are beginning to focus on attracting Gen Z travelers and make planning their next trip more financially attractive.

If you’re ready to book your next vacation while meeting your financial goals, here are 11 ways to make your post-college travel dreams come true on a budget.


Set a travel budget in advance

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There’s no magic number for how much you should spend per trip, but travel influencer Nikki Gibson recommends breaking down expenses up front with a travel budget spreadsheet that covers average costs for food, hotels, activities, transportation, and more. (For example, Gibson travel budget for 18 countries in 6 months worked out to about $125-$200 a day for two people.)

Whatever your personal situation, a budget can help you prioritize the things that matter most to you while on vacation (like eating at IG-worthy restaurants) and the things you’re willing to cut costs on. (e.g. more leg room on flights) .


Learn the Sweet Spot of Flight Booking

They say, “The sooner you book your trip, the better” — but that’s not always true. According to Expedia’s 2023 Airline Hacking Reportyou should book around 28-35 days before departure to domestic destinations and around six months before any international travel plans to save around 10%.

While it’s not easy to find last-minute flight deals, you can sign up for apps and services like Hopper, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and the Expedia app to get notified when prices are at their lowest. low and also potentially get spontaneous flight sales. For international flights, check the Skyscanner tracking flights and finding the “cheapest month” is also a great way to gauge the economical times to visit your dream destination.

If you’re looking for more low-key hacks, TikTokers swear by enable “incognito mode” or using a private browser to mark cheaper flights (although some experts have debunked this). And if you can, be flexible with departure dates and times and where you are flying from; TikTokers say that sometimes choose an airport a bit further away can save you *hundreds* of dollars.


Try a “slower journey” to your destination

Frugal travelers may want to consider a destination where it’s easy and affordable to get around, like the capital of Spain. “The city has wonderfully cheap public transport and is extremely walkable, so you can avoid taxis if you’re staying downtown,” says Marissa Strang, a travel blogger who left her 9-to-5 to travel the world. “You really can experience Madrid on a budget without hesitation.”

Checking out TikTokers’ transportation experiences can also ease some of the anxiety you might feel about getting around your destination before you book. TikTok Travel Specialist Gaby Beckfordwho quit his job as an engineer two weeks before lockdown encourages embracing ‘slower journeys’ as a way to save money while experiencing a different side to your destination. Citing a recent trip to Mexico, she says: “I booked four to six months in advance and traveled by bus rather than plane, which was more environmentally friendly but just as convenient and safe.


Find your money’s worth right now

Thanks to the current strength of US dollar versus euro2023 could be the perfect time to visit all the continent has to offer, especially since many countries are within driving distance of each other.

“It’s so easy to visit multiple destinations in just a few weeks,” says Lindsay Paige Steintravel writer and publicist who founded the Collective round trip — a company that helps young people break into the travel industry. Her favorite post-graduate destinations in Europe are Florence, Prague, Paris, Switzerland and Budapest.


Visit popular destinations during low season

For bucket list destinations that may be gaining popularity or are more expensive, Strang suggests traveling during a less crowded time when there are fewer people, better photo opportunities and much lower prices.

“Greece is on everyone’s list, and for good reason: it’s a dream,” she says, which means it can be very expensive during peak months. She suggests visiting during low season (September to November) and booking inter-island ferries well in advance to save more money.


Consider a location off the beaten path instead

Some of the hidden gems near your dream destination might be a much better vibe for you and your wallet. Strang says of Greece: “Although many people flock to the expensive islands of Santorini and Mykonos, you can find more economical accommodations and activities in Crete and Naxos.”

A post-graduate trip doesn’t have to be international to be on your to-do list. Beckford’s best advice for graduates is to venture closer to home. “If you’re on a tight budget after you graduate, start by traveling locally,” she says. “There’s a lot of FOMO on social media from people traveling around the world, but there are some amazing places to explore in your own country.”

Beckford suggests the #vanlife trend as an option for domestic travel that will also make it easy to see many different states at once. Recent graduates might also want to check travel grants and fellowships and “cool programs like AmeriCorps and the environmental body who will pay you to travel to the United States”


Save money on food and activities

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If flights or transportation take up most of your travel budget, there are still plenty of tips that can help you discover your destination for free or at a lower cost. “One of my biggest tips for saving money in any destination is to take free walking tours, and you can find them in almost every major city,” Strang says, adding that it is also a great way to see parts of a city you might not be able to do by car.

She also points out that each city has local restaurants that are cheaper than the guidebooks and an array of free or cheap activities. Before you arrive, take the time to plan your activities, meals and more to make the most of your time and money.


Don’t automatically exclude hotels

Post-grad travelers often consider local Airbnbs, hostels, and short-term rentals, which can prove the most profitable. “In the UAE, I stayed in short-term rentals instead of hotels,” says Beckford. “Having a kitchen to prepare meals and save leftovers saved me a lot of money in a destination that can be expensive.”

But sometimes a hotel can actually be your cheapest accommodation option, especially when you factor in vacation rental site fees. Many hotels offer deals on multi-night stays or sometimes you can save a lot of money on your room with last minute hotel websites like Hotel Tonight. Plus, there are a number of free hotel loyalty programs you can join and enjoy perks like free breakfast, parking, and Wi-Fi.


Take advantage of credit cards and travel benefits

Travel TikTok is full of tips for using credit card points and perks to save on travel, but it’s important to take this with a grain of salt, especially if you’re on a tight travel budget.

“I’ve seen friends stick with their credit card and end up with more stress and problems afterwards for the sake of a big graduation trip,” Strang says. She suggests opening a travel credit card that rewards you with points for your regular daily expenses, saying, “That’s how I booked a $400 return flight to Iceland and a flight $550 round trip to Greece without spending a tithe.”

Strang’s two golden rules: 1) If you can’t afford to pay it back in a month, wait before you buy; and 2) Look for an interest-free card for the first year, travel benefits, and low interest rates thereafter.


Follow Travel TikTokers for money-saving hacks

There’s a reason #TravelTok is a popular tag on the platform, and Beckford says TikTok is one of the best planning resources for graduates looking to save money on their travels and get more out of it. learn more about a destination before you get there.

“By intentionally using the search bar, following your favorite travel creators, and interacting with travel content that appears in your feed, the algorithm knows to recommend more content that can inspire your future travels,” she says. .

Some options include:

Sources (and other #TravelTokers to follow):

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