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The beginning of the year is always the time for resolutions, new starts, and large goals. Traveling is one common item on the “to-do” list but many times, financial restraints stop us in our tracks. Don’t fret! Widening your world through international travel is completely affordable and doable with a few simple steps:

  1. Make International Travel A Priority

I’ve been in love with globes and travel shows since I was a young child. As I grew older, world travel was a dream that I reserved for “some day,” but leaving this dream in the indistinguishable future kept it elusive and made it less likely to become a concrete goal. I kept waiting for other people and conditions to give me permission to fulfill my dream,  and when they proved not to be ideal, I blamed them for the reason I was delaying my dreams. I was 26 when I took my first trip abroad. I finally decided that my need to see the world was stronger than any excuse I could make. The first step is overcoming all of the “buts”. These excuses can include finances, time, work, your significant other, fears of being in an unknown land, etc. In a product-based society that seems obsessed with work and productivity, international travel can seem like frivolous navel-gazing; however, if it’s your true heart’s desire, make the investment in your personal development and decide that your desire is stronger than your fears and worries. The first step is setting your intention; the rest will follow.

Related: 4 Wardrobe Essentials to Travel the Globe

2. Book Your Ticket

Your plane ticket will be your largest expense. Depending on how far you want to travel, the price of the ticket alone can stop you in your tracks. The great news is plane tickets are becoming increasingly more affordable. There are two websites that I’ve found to be a gold mine: Secret Flying and The Flight Deal. Both of these websites are updated daily with the best bargain deals for air travel both domestically and abroad. They provide you with comprehensive information which includes the exact days that are cheapest to travel on as well as direct links to book your ticket. Once you’ve made up your mind to travel the world, check these sites daily and try to act on the deal the day that you see it. The better the deal, the quicker it expires. For example, this morning I saw a round trip ticket from Los Angeles to Tanzania for $269 I kid you not! However, as I write this article this evening, the deal has already expired, so you have to act fast. Remain vigilant with checking these sites daily and you will be greatly rewarded.

3. Find Accommodation

Once you book your ticket, it’s time to start thinking about your travel itinerary which is usually centered around lodging. Hotels and even hostels can eat at your expenses, and what’s worse, it can feed you into awful tourist traps which further drain resources. Usually, if you book a hotel online, the place is in an area that’s designed for tourists and everything costs a small fortune compared to local prices. What’s more, many times these hotels and hostels refer you to all-day van tours which are very expensive, lacks personal contact with real locals and is usually focused more on buying souvenirs than seeing the actual sights. Instead of going the traditional hotel route, here are two suggestions that can enhance your travel experience while saving you some money:

  • Couchsurfing: When you’re in a strange land, it’s best to be welcomed home. Although the idea may seem strange to some, I’ve met many incredible people through this website. Although many people see this way of traveling as being unsafe, there are some safety precautions you can take to make sure you’re in good hands. For more information on tips for safe travel, check out this website.
  • Workaway: If you’re looking for a more meaningful travel experience that’s easy on your wallet, this website is another safe bet. Workaway provides you with free volunteer opportunities throughout the world that provide you with food and lodging in exchange for work. This website enables you to share a wide array of skills such as art, yoga, teaching, carpentry, gardening, cleaning, etc. I just finished an awesome Workaway experience in Ghana where I utilized my professional skills by teaching middle school. I received amazing insight about Ghanaian culture because I lived with teachers and students, and I was treated with the utmost hospitality.

The conditions for traveling will never be perfect. There will always be a reason you shouldn’t go; however these resources will make it much easier to make your dreams come true. These suggestions will allow you to spend more time with the locals, deepening your experience and knowledge of the local culture. 2016 is already underway, what faraway lands are you dreaming of? As stated by one of my favorite writers Ijeoma Umebinyuo:

“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just… start.”

Good luck and Happy Travels!

Featured photo:  DURIS Guillaume via Adobe Stock


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Heather was born in Chicago and raised in Pasadena, California and proudly claims Oakland as her adopted home. She has a B.A. in African-American Studies from Smith College (proud Smithie), and a Masters in Education Leadership from New York University. Heather's spent the past decade working in the field of educational equity and advocacy. She currently teaches Child and Adolescent Development at San Francisco State University and manages a blog called What's Happening Black Oakland? She also contributes to Blavity, a blog for black millennials. Heather's committed to writing interesting and relevant stories that aren't being covered by the mainstream media, while straying away from the single story that is usually imposed on people of color. In her free time she enjoys traveling and going to live shows.

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