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The Best Way To Travel In Your Late 20s

The Best Way To Travel In Your Late 20s

So you’re too old (or introverted) for youth hostels and organised tours, but you don’t earn enough to go five star? As 30 approaches, you’re keen to travel comfortably but you don’t want to blow the bank. Popular wisdom would suggest you book a bunch of mid-range hotels, but there’s a far more satisfying way to travel that costs the same but is loads more fun.

I call it ‘feast and famine’ and it’s a principle I’ve applied in my solo travels ever since suffering through a sleepless night in a Romanian youth hostel listening to American tourists shouting bad pop songs in the common room next door.

Feast and famine, as it sounds, is all about combining really cheap options with a little bit of luxury. By carefully selecting the right moments to go budget, you can save your pennies for unique, luxury experiences when they count. It costs the same as going mid-range the whole way, but it provides a more surprising and adventurous travel experience. Here’s how to do it.


Accommodation

When choosing your budget options, opt for places where staying somewhere rustic or basic might enhance the experience. Try couch surfing in cities with a great nightlife; a local host can show you the best spots, then you can afford to stay somewhere special in the countryside or by the beach. Couch surfing is based on a principle of exchange of culture and experience rather than money and is just one of many inventive ways to sleep on the cheap. Some hosts will offer you a couch, but many have a spare room.

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Going to South East Asia? Book a rustic cabin on the beach, where you’ll be spending most of the day outside. Then splash out on a luxury hotel in the city, where you’ll want to escape the hustle and bustle. Feasting on luxury accommodation can be as much about the ‘when’ as it is about the ‘where’ – I often book a fancy hotel for my first night in a new place. Cloud-like cushions and a spa bath can be just what you need to beat the jet lag.

If you are going to stay in a hostel, do a little research and make sure it’s an interesting one instead of a cookie-cutter backpacker haven. And make sure you get free Wi-Fi. You should never have to pay for Wi-Fi.


Food

In Australia, “street food” is a hipster’s way of saying “small portions of fried stuff from other countries.” It’s a popular phrase on the menus of upmarket eateries so you could be forgiven for not remembering that in the countries where this food originated, it’s actually cheap. Indeed, some countries are famous for their street food.

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Photo: Jonathan Lin/Flickr

Another way to save your pennies is to book accommodation with breakfast included then stock up for lunch. Alternately, look for places with self-catering facilities. Making the time to cook some of your meals at home saves money and visiting local markets for fresh produce can end up being one of the best ways to check out the culture.

With all the money you’ve saved, you can now look up Bangkok’s best degustation menu, buy real champagne in Champagne, hit New York’s most famous restaurants, do a cooking course in Delhi or get room service when you’re staying in your luxury hotel. The options are endless.


Getting around

Overnight trains and buses can be cheaper than flights and also save you a night of accommodation. Some countries have better public transport than others: for example, taking an overnight train in India is an unforgettable experience (make sure you stay don’t do first class as it’s much cheaper and much more fun). When you’re in town, explore on foot, download a local public transport app or try to stay in hotels or hostels that offer free bikes so you can avoid dropping cash on tourist tours and taxis.

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If you’re ready for a splurge, renting a car for a classic road trip can be an incredible way to discover breathtaking scenery, empty beaches, off-the-beaten-track villages and charming cellar doors. If you’re on a mid-level budget, car hire and petrol can seem extreme, but it’s doable if you’ve scrimped and saved elsewhere.


Activities

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Most cities will have guides to free activities you can check out while there. You can go on free walking tours (or design your own), visit free museums or check out free arts events. A few days of freebies and you’ll have earned that white water rafting expedition or winery tour.

Ready to get out there? Book your next adventure with Qantas. 

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