How Gen Z Can Travel Like Influencers (Without Influencer Money)

Phi Phi Islands in the Krabi province of Thailand

Looking to book a long vacation this summer? You’re not the only one. A recent study by car-sharing company Avail shows that Gen Z is the age group most eager to travel in 2022, with 72% planning to splurge on a big trip this year.

But what if you don’t have the budget for a lavish retreat? Travel experts recently shared with GOBankingRates four simple ways to save money while seeing the world.

Travel to Affordable Locations

Gilian Manassee, founder of sustainable travel blog Jill on a Journey, first started traveling long distances in her 20s. To save money, she focuses on gorgeous yet affordable destinations such as Southeast Asia and Central America.

“Countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam or Cambodia are a paradise for young travelers because they’re cheap to travel around and quite popular for young backpackers,” she said. “They also offer amazing beaches, island hopping, jungle adventures and delicious, cheap street food. Countries like Nicaragua or Guatemala are also perfect for young travelers who want to learn Spanish. There are many great Spanish schools, hostels are affordable, and there are so many volunteering opportunities. And of course, nature over here is unbeatable with volcano hikes, surfing and jungles.”

William Westerlund, co-founder of Almvest, says the Dominican Republic offers another gorgeous yet budget-friendly getaway for young travelers.

Make Your Money Work for You

“The low cost of living on this lovely Caribbean island, which is only a few hours from the United States, makes it my top choice,” he said. “There are a plethora of daring activities, designer golf courses and all-inclusive resorts to choose from on the island, which is both generous and affordable. You can discover waterfalls, jungles, colonial architecture and friendly natives as you explore the Dominican Republic.”

Domestic trips are another great way to save on travel. A recent study by Wanderu shows that Panama City, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, are two of the 10 cheapest cities to visit on spring break.

“Their coastlines will rival any beach selfie influencers snap in Bali or the Maldives,” said Bryn Culbert, communications coordinator at Wanderu. “Plus, these cities have some of the cheapest drinks, with an average cocktail going for just $9 in downtown clubs and pints of beer under $4.”

Buy Discounted Tickets and Hotels

You don’t have to fly first class to travel like an influencer. Purchasing discounted plane tickets is a great way to satisfy your wanderlust without going over budget. Even better, consider traveling by bus.

“The best flight deals can be found on Skyscanner and Kayak, where you can compare dates and prices,” Manassee said. “Also, bus companies like Flixbus in Europe offer great deals for getting around cheaply.”

For inexpensive accommodations, consider staying at budget hotels, hostels or Airbnbs. Manassee recommends Hostelworld, where you can find deals on hostels, dorm rooms and private rooms as well as read other travelers’ reviews.

Travel in the Low Season

Traveling in the offseason can save you money and help you avoid busy crowds.

Make Your Money Work for You

“I’ve stayed at amazing hostels and Airbnb during the offseason for almost half the price I would have paid in the high season,” Manassee said. “Another plus: Travel destinations are by far not as crowded as they are during the high season.”

Just keep in mind that there’s often a reason behind low seasons, such as weather, events or storms. For example, destinations known for their beaches or warm climates are generally less expensive during the winter months and hurricane seasons. Avoid traveling on popular holidays, though, as these dates are typically the most expensive.

Shop at Farmers Markets or Eat Street Food

Hungry Gen Z travelers don’t need to rely on fast food to stay under budget. Local markets and street food vendors often offer delicious meals at low prices.

“In my experience, I’ve had the best dinners and lunches at street food stalls, especially in Asia and Central America,” Manassee said. “Mostly, this yummy food costs only a few dimes. On markets, you cannot only find food stalls selling delicious food way cheaper than in restaurants, but they also offer free snack samples.”

Westerlund said farmers markets and small-town enterprises often offer the best prices.

“If you want to save money on groceries for a tasty dinner, shop where the locals shop,” he said. “Local markets also have the freshest ingredients. It benefits both you and the planet.”

For those who want to cook their own meals, Manassee offers another important tip: “Around half an hour before the supermarkets close, they reduce the prices of many fresh items such as fruits and vegetables. It’s the best time for saving on your grocery bill, and you can prevent food waste as well.”

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