Something I almost, almost mentioned in my this post was that I was nervous to share about our trip to Kenya. I worried people would wonder how the heck we're taking a trip across the world on a budget.
The truth is, we robbed a bank.
Kidding. :) (Let the record show we did not rob a bank, just in case any police officers are reading, yep!).
The real truth is, sometimes I read blogs and am convinced these people must have trusts funds. The trips, the clothes, the home decor. How are they doing it? I wonder.
So! If you're like me and were wondering if we have a trust fund, let me tell you: we don't. We aren't fundraising, either. And we aren't getting a discount to blog about it, although that would be awesome. (But, Emirates, if you're reading: yes, we'd be honored to fly first class with you to somewhere exotic. And yes, we'd love to meet Jennifer Anniston, too.)
Bearing that in mind, here are a few things that made international travel possible on our budget. I hope these tips will help you, too:
1. There is a huge difference between a mission trip and a volunteer trip.
The first time I went to Africa, I raised almost $5k, which covered every aspect of the trip. It was totally worth it. But! What I learned is that there is a big difference going on a solo volunteer trip vs. a mission trip with a group.
Mission trips are more expensive because you are going with an organization and part of your cost is to pay for supplies for projects. And then, while you're there, you don't have to worry about anything.
Volunteer trips, on the other hand, can be significantly more affordable. Before we committed to going with DIG, we were looking in to a lot of options, including WWOOFING, HelpX and WorkAway. Between these three sites, there are thousands of opportunities to volunteer abroad. Oftentimes lodging and food are free in exchange for your work! We were minutes away from booking a trip to Tanzania to volunteer for $5/day in an orphanage. But, you have to be willing to do the work if you're not going with an organized group. Which brings me to...
2. Be willing to put in the legwork.
While I love taking trips, I am not a big fan of planning trips. I get overwhelmed by the details. But, when it comes to international travel, if you're willing to plan ahead, you can save a lot of money. We started saving for this trip last spring, long before we knew where we'd be going.
While "impromptu jet setting" sounds a lot sexier than planning for months and months, the time allowed us to compare prices, finding affordable options and figure out where we wanted to splurge vs. save. It also allowed us to ask for things like a Coolibar UPF Shirt and BeautyCounter sunscreen for Christmas. Which means, fewer things to buy!
3. Plan ahead for flights.
By last March, we had saved $2,200 for flights. And then, we started stalking them. If you want to fly a specific airline, you can set up price alerts for many of them or use HitList, a fare app. However, I highly recommend using the Google Flights "Track Prices" option. While we wanted to fly Delta (#ATLproud!), we found two Turkish Airlines for $750 each, which was half of what Delta's were. We'd assumed flights would be at least $1,000 and couldn't believe our eyes when we purchased them. If we hadn't planned ahead, we wouldn't have been able to save that much money.
4. Bring your own breakfast or lunch.
I'm pretty sure half of our packs will be filled with Rise Bars, Justin's Peanut Butter Squeeze Packs and Mamma Chia Bars. It won't be the most exciting breakfast, but will save us a good chunk of change and will be a good emergency option if there is a meal we can't eat.
5. Pick one indulgence
Since most of our trip will be spent working, we knew we wanted to treat ourselves to a safari at the end. I sound like a broken record, but, yet again, we planned ahead for this. We set aside specific money for it and decided to make it our Christmas gifts to one another.
Also, the safari company we're using has a volunteer rate, which is incredible and saved us a lot of money. It's always worth asking because many safaris are willing to work with volunteers.
What are your hacks for traveling abroad? I'd love to hear how you save!