The best place to begin your budget travel planning is to know your travel style. Here’s how.
Travel Style Quiz
I was 40 when I got my first passport and started figuring out the secrets of travel on a shoestring budget. I had no money at all, and a lot of pent-up wanderlust, so I got excited about every bargain I saw.
That led to a weird dichotomy: I was finding great deals on trips, and wasting money at the same time — because I didn’t understand my travel style.
You can never get enough of what you don’t really want
I scored a trip to an all-inclusive resort in the Dominica Republic, including airfare, meals, alcohol, snorkeling, the whole shebang, for just over $600. I enjoyed the trip, but it didn’t scratch my travel itch and I was shopping for more trips within a few hours of returning home.
Why? Because my travel style is mainly about exploring local culture, not lying on the beach. I didn’t get to learn anything about the people’s daily lives, their belief system, or their neighborhoods. It was a great trip, and I’m sure it was perfect for someone — but I’m not that person. (I had a similar experience on a cruise ship; I felt like I was in prison! It would have been heaven for someone looking for a luxe experience though.)
Finding clarity with a travel partner
If you’re traveling with a friend, it’s not enough to agree on a destination. You need to talk about the experiences you hope to have and make sure you’re on the same page (or prepared to compromise).
A friend of mine took a trip to Mexico recently with a travel buddy. My friend was very excited to practice her Spanish, go hiking in nature, shop in the mercados, and enjoy a profound experience of Mexican life. Her travel companion, who did the planning, booked a resort experience and several bus tours. My friend was miserable while her companion had a ball!
Keep your travel style in mind
Remember that you don’t have to do everything your guidebook says or that friends enjoyed on a similar trip.
Travel time is precious. Use every minute to explore the activities that will make your trip meaningful for you.