When it comes to traveling on a budget, I’ve relied heavily on several resources to make my plans into reality. Many of the resources below have been mentioned in some of my other posts because they became integral to a particular trip or adventure. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re planning a trip anytime soon.
Alltrails is an app and website that, when provided with your location, will show lists of running and hiking trails nearby. I love that this app allows you to filter results by distance, difficulty, elevation gain, and lots of other factors including dog- and kid-friendliness. You can also read reviews and look at photos from other users to give you a better idea of any given trail. The paid version gives you the option to download trail maps for when phone signal isn’t available.
Roadtrippers a must-have for planning roadtrips, as I mentioned in my PA road trip post. It’s an app and website that lets you plan a route and suggests stops along the way, including restaurants, hikes, site seeing, and more. It even provides an estimate of gas and toll costs based on your car’s make and model. The free version limits you to about six locations on your trip, but the Roadtrippers Plus, for $30 per year permits unlimited locations along with lots of other features, like real-time traffic reports.
This is how I found my job for the summer and it has opened up my mind so many possibilities. If you’re looking to spend a few months in a new and exciting place, you have to check out coolworks.com. It’s basically a database of tons of national and state park jobs, which you can filter according to state, type of work, and compensation. The job I have now provides housing and incredible food for just $45 a week, on top of hourly pay.
Workaway is similar, but is international and primarily for volunteer work in exchange for room and board. You can work in a rural area or a busy city for anywhere from a few days to several months, and the types of work are incredibly varied. There are nannying, farming, and construction jobs, to name a few, all on the same site. You can customize the search results by state, type of work, and length of stay, and read reviews of hosts from other workers. Membership is about $35 per year and absolutely worth it. Read about my experience with Workaway here.
Along the same lines, WWOOF is a database of organic farms world wide looking for volunteers willing to work in exchange for room and board. It functions in much the same way as Workaway (in fact, you’ll find many of the same hosts from one site to the other) but is specifically for farm work. I haven’t personally WWOOF’d, but I’ve met lots of people who have, and loved it.
The place to find cheap flights, tours, and hotels. It compares many airlines and gives you tons of options to find the best flight based on dates, travel time, and budget.
Airbnb is great for finding a place to crash that’s cheaper than a hotel room, but there are also lots of unique lodging options that allow for both a fun bonus destination, and a chance to learn about an area from and live like a local.
Buses aren’t the most fun or comfy way to travel long distances, but they’re a lot more affordable that flights and certainly do the trick of getting you from point A to point B when you don’t have a personal vehicle. I used Megabus for almost all of my travel last summer when I was going between Workaway sites, and I didn’t regret it at all. Getting to eight different locations cost me only about $350 total.
Couchsurfing is another site that I haven’t personally use, but that I know some people swear by. Anyone with an open couch, air mattress, or spare room can create a hosting profile on the site. Potential guests and hosts can send messages through the site to make sure they are a good fit, and there are also groups that function like forums for like-minded travelers and hosts to converse in. Couchsurfing is meant to give you the experience of living like a local wherever you go.
Buying secondhand travel or camping gear is a great way to save money. So many people have gently used or even brand new gear they had every intention of using but are now willing to part with for a fraction of the retail price.
Hopper is an app that takes the work out of finding the best plane ticket price. You simply enter your starting and ending location and the dates, and the app will notify you about predicted price hikes or drops as well as other options for airports or dates that may cost less.
Popcity is perfect for mapping your city trip or for fitting in mini-adventures as you go about your everyday life. It’s made specifically for food destinations, but really you can use it for anything. You “map” locations you want to visit within the app, and it will notify you when you are near one.
Hostels are ideal for those willing to share dorm-like accommodations and common spaces while meeting fellow travelers, and this easy-to-use site makes finding them simple and clear.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but the apple maps app has gotten me lost one too many times. Download this one for more accurate directions.
BONUS- If you’re not far from the NYC area and into outdoorsy activities, join the Hudson Valley Hikers group for a list of meetups for hikes, bike rides, and runs almost every day. You have to be a member to see the location of the meet ups, but anyone can join with just a couple clicks.