It’s the question you all seem to have on your lips.
“How can you afford to travel so much?
Well I work hard and save, I have been saving since I had my first babysitting job at age thirteen. And I am again saving now. Following on from my experience gained in tertiary studies to date and some contract and freelance photographic work modelling and the photojournalist pieces and blogs I do, I get enough part-time work to get by. But savings go up when I work more, so I am even doing some extra work in hospitality over the Australian Summer to save for more adventures next year.
As well as that though, good research, planning and budgeting can make an overseas holiday an absolute adventure and the very thing everlasting memories are made of ! One area where you can cut costs whilst increasing the adventure factor is by looking at the different accommodation models available in the area you are visiting. One really great model is the tried and true hostel-style accommodation or “backpackers”. Now they are all very unique in their own way and have such a wide variety of services, standards and features as well as varying greatly in price. You really need to put the research in to see not only what you are getting for your accommodation money, but also what the location and infrastructure in the area affords you to do.
I can vaguely remember staying in a hostel when I was about three years old with my family and my Godmother’s family when we visited the zoo out in Dubbo (western NSW, Australia). So my experience until recently was pretty minimal. Hostels are generally an inexpensive, safe and simple option giving you a good accommodation base for long enough to really feel at home and settled, or they can be a really cheap overnight option whilst on the way from point A to point B.
You are guaranteed to meet like-minded spirits from around the world in a safe and secure environment with plenty of incidental socialising happening and some hostels even having organised social and group activities. Communal living areas and kitchens are the heart and soul of great hostels, and a great way to overcome language barriers and meet new people over a meal or just whilst relaxing or hanging out. You will learn about the best things to see and do from those who have been there for a while and you will be able to share your stories and adventures with new guests as they arrive. One of the biggest advantages of hostel living is the capacity to make new friends and travelling companions – especially if you are travelling solo !
Now for those who shy away from 24 hour company, some hostels have a private room option for a little extra. You may still have to share a bathroom however.
For security reasons, hostel guests may require a key or swipe card to enter a lot of the areas, and there are usually secure lockers available for those wishing to store belongings with confidence. Hostels are usually staffed 24/7 , giving you access to answers and support if ever needed. Some hostels provide meals at a special rate as well, so if you aren’t into cooking for yourself, that can be a really value incentive available at some hostels.
Hostels will also often provide maps and information about the local area, services and suggestions for free attractions, discounts and inexpensive local cafes and businesses – a real bonus when you want to spend more time than money on the travel experience and adventure.
Keep in mind – while no two hostels are the same, each one has its own personality and ambience, and they all bring together the infectious enthusiasm of first-time or experienced travellers alike, all eager to share memories and make new ones.
When I knew I was going to be heading back to the USA in October, I had a look at what was on offer over there. The criteria or factors I needed to focus on were
· Transportation – not just how much it would cost to get there from the airport, but also the cost and convenience of public transport to get to other places in a city as big and sprawling as los Angeles
· Location – it needed to be amongst the experiences and the lifestyle that I could participate in on a budget or for free
And then I needed to balance all three of these to come up with the best option … and I reckon I found a winner when I came across the Hostelling International’s website !http://www.hiusa.org/california/los-angeles/santa-monica
I love Santa Monica … there’s always something happening and you can easily get around on foot and just lose yourself in the hype and buzz of coastal LA for days if you want to. Santa Monica is also connected to other parts of the city via reliable, safe and relatively inexpensive public transport. You can get to Hollywood, Disneyworld, Downtown LA and Beverly Hills pretty easily. It does take sometimes an hour or two to get to the other side of the city, but there is so much people-watching and city sights to see on the way. And making a hostel in Santa Monica my base met the criteria I needed and was brilliant for lots of reasons !
HI-Santa Monica hostel is set close to cafes, supermarkets, delis, restaurants and cinemas, and is only just two blocks from the beach and Santa Monica Pier. The hostel was recently renovated and updated and has a real hip beachy LA vibe to it. It has beds for 260 guests and facilities include daily movies, internet access, kitchen, laundry and breakfast included. For around $30 a night it is really good value. And if you are going to base yourself in any one place in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles – Santa Monica is the pick
Hostel guests may stay for 14 consecutive nights or an accumulative total of 14 nights during each calendar year. At the end of the 14 nights guests may not return until the following calendar year. No extensions will be granted. Guests may not make back-to-back reservations to exceed the maximum 14 night stay limit if staying over December 31.
HI Santa Monica has all the features travellers need - especially in the middle of a trip eg laundry, wifi, self catering kitchen, as well as some really good bonuses like the communal areas, breakfasts and some of the "all you can eat" type meals at a reasonable price. Those features were all really important to me and certainly supported my style of travelling and definitely enhanced the overall experience of Santa Monica and LA
’m not a big drinker, social or otherwise, but the hostel provides such a great social scene, with a great lounge area to chill in, opportunity for communal meals, excellent computer/wifi facilities and group activities and excursions that there was ample opportunity for me to be social without a glass of wine in my hand. Don’t worry, there was also plenty of opportunity to do that for those wishing to
HI Santa Monica provided me with heaps of information even before I arrived about the free activities in the local area and the wider city. http://www.hiusa.org/about-us/hiusa-news/free-for-all-los-angeles
I was able to prepare my adventure and enjoy participating in the activities taking advantage of the relatively cheap public transport routes available across the city. I spent so much time hanging out at Santa Monica Pier, Muscle Beach, the beachfront, cafes, markets all within walking distance. With the help of google maps and wifi (at the hostel and pretty readily available in most cafes etc) I was also able to plan some great days adventuring across the city – Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Walk of Fame, celebrity spotting in Beverly Hills, visiting some great shopping malls, Downtown LA and hiking in Runyon Canyon to get some great views over the city – all accessible by public transport and sometimes a little bit of walking. There was so much more I could have done as well - some organised tours, seen a bit more of the history and culture of the City of Angels, visited the Marina del Rey, or worked out on the beach with some of the locals. Maybe next time ….
So again, one of the easiest ways to be able to afford to travel is to save hard. But also keep in mind the value of research and planning to find and take advantage of the cheaper options available for accommodation - which just increases the WOW factor and the adventure you can experience on your trip. Make your travel dollar work harder and go further for you … after all you deserve it … and it will be the trip of a lifetime!