An Instagram influencer told us how to travel the world for free (or at least cheap AF)
Fine, I’m the Instagram influencer
by Nian Hu
So everyone's always asking me how I'm able to afford all of my many, many glamorous vacations to exotic destinations like Thailand and Greece. The answer, of course, is that I'm chronically broke and I literally wear the same three shirts over and over again. Now there's a solid money-saving hack!
But another part of the answer is that you have to travel smart. A trip to Bali doesn't have to cost you tens of thousands of dollars, believe it or not. Here are some of the best travel hacks so you can spend less and still get amazing shots for the 'gram that will leave your friends back home SHAKING with envy.
Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights
Don't be that idiot who actually goes to the American Airlines website to look for flights. Are you trying to get ripped off?? Everyone who's anyone knows that the first place you look is Skyscanner. This site (along with others, like Kayak and Google Flights) basically aggregates flights from all over the Internet — including third-party flight booking websites, many of which have shady-ass names like eDreams and GotoGate. Don't be creeped out! These sites often offer the same exact flights for a fraction of the price. Why? Honestly, I'm not sure. But just trust me on this — they work!
But the key to REALLY making the most of Skyscanner is by being as flexible as possible. The coolest function of this site is that you can look at flight prices across an entire MONTH. So if you're set on going to Italy sometime in May but you don't particularly care which week you take off, then this is an awesome way to find out which dates are cheapest. The difference can be huge. Like, the flight will be literally $300 on one day and $600 on the next. It makes no goddamn sense! And Skyscanner also lets you set the destination as "anywhere" so if you know you want to go on a trip but you don't particularly care WHERE, then this is another great way to save money. For example, this is how I discovered a $350 one-way flight to Bali from New York. Pretty sweet deal, I'd say!
Stay in hostels and IGNORE all of the horror stories
Literally everyone and their mother has it in their head that hostels are these terrifying nightmare chambers full of death, murder, and devastation. But they're really not! In reality, hostels are somewhat disgusting communal living chambers full of squeaky bunk beds where you will almost definitely be sharing the room with a dozen loud snorers. So yeah, it ain't glamorous. But it's also the cheapest option by far, and it really really helps to save on accommodation.
Think about it. Like yeah, don't we all want to treat ourselves to a $100/night hotel and sleep in the peace and tranquility of our own room? But if you're on vacation for a week, that quickly adds up to $700 — literally just for a place to sleep at night! That's absurd, especially if you plan on leaving the house during the day (which I hope you will). And honestly, hostels aren't half bad. The amenities suck, but at least you get to hang out with cool people from all over the world. Hostels attract some of the most unique, adventurous, and open-minded travelers — which makes sense, since these are the people who have voluntarily signed up to sleep in a room full of strangers — and these people can become your travel buddies or friends for life. Who knows, you could even end up dating someone you meet at a hostel! You'd be surprised by how often that happens.
Use public transportation
Okay, hear me out! This is not only a money-saving hack. This is also part of the ADVENTURE, okay? Traveling isn't supposed to be easy. It's supposed to push you out of your comfort zone, make you grow, challenge you! And if that means riding a 10-hour bus in Vietnam along with crowds of old women carrying live chickens, then that's just how it's gotta be.
Don't spend hundreds of dollars Ubering everywhere when you could've spent literally just a couple bucks to ride the subway along with the rest of the locals. Of course, it always helps to check. In some parts of the world, Uber is actually ridiculously cheap. Like, literally just a couple bucks per ride. In which case, go ahead!! But one thing ALWAYS holds true. Never, EVER ride in a taxi, especially one at the airport. You will 100% get ripped off. They will act really nice to you, even offer to carry your luggage. DO NOT FALL FOR IT!!
Eat the local food
So of course the smartest thing is to cook, especially if you're traveling long-term and you don't want to spend $20 on every meal. But if you're not going to be there for weeks and months on end, then it's probably not worth your time to hit up the grocery store and spend time actually preparing meals in your (presumably packed and somewhat dirty) hostel kitchen.
Instead, save some $$$ by eating the local food. Yes, that means the street food! Doner kebab, fried squid on a stick, all of that fun stuff. Shit will literally cost you nothing AND give you a really authentic taste of the local cuisine. I mean, surely you didn't fly all the way to Thailand to eat overpriced and shitty pizza…? Don't be scared, make sure to hit up the carts that have long lines, and enjoy!