Inspiring new experiences when you can’t afford to travel

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

One of the top reasons I love traveling is to find inspiration in new places and experiences. The world is an infinite playground full of unfound friends, stupefying sights, and magical experiences that our curious and creative minds crave.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t have the money or time to travel as often as we’d like, which can sometimes result in feeling stuck, bored, or uninspired. Although they’re not as thrilling as exotic road trips or vacations, there are options for more affordable adventures to inspire creativity and new thoughts.

Visit a friend who lives in a different city.

As we continue to craft our futures, friends will come and go to different cities, giving us the perfect opportunity to travel. Connect with a friend who moved to a city you’ve never been to before, and set up a trip to visit. Arrange to sleep on the couch or stay in a guest bedroom so you don’t have to pay for a hotel. If that doesn’t work, check out Airbnb.

Your friends will also be able to show you around the city and help you decide which places to visit based on your travel goals and budget. On top of that, you get to spend time with a friend who you rarely see. All signs point to an adventurous and successful trip.

Planes, trains, and automobiles.

Find your favorite airline and sign up for a rewards card to collect points. They add up quickly, and you can earn free flights. Compare prices of bus and train tickets. Buses are less comfortable and take much longer to arrive at your destination, but they’re also less expensive than a plane or train ticket if you’re on a tight budget.

Plan a road trip and take your own car. Invite a friend to split gas money with, or even to use their vehicle if yours isn’t reliable.

Travel tip: Create an account on Roadie, a “neighbor-to-neighbor delivery network.” If someone needs to transport an item or package, they might pay a Roadie to transport it instead of shipping or mailing it. Before each trip, check for a fellow Roadie that might need a delivery on your route. If you’re driving or able to bring extra baggage free of charge, it’s worth the effort.

Take advantage of member discounts.

If you’re a member of any organizations or clubs, find out if your membership comes with member discounts. Useful benefits may include discounts on flights, rental cars, gas, hotel rooms, and more. AAA offers similar discounts along with travel planning services.

Some jobs provide discounts for employees, and some companies offer student discounts as well. It’s worth checking out to save a few dollars.

Explore your own city.

If you live in or near a big city, there is always a new place or event to adventure to within reasonable driving distance. Search for free events, state parks, art galleries, museums, and other low-cost activities to plan for a day trip.

Museums often have free or discounted admission on Sundays. Pack a picnic for lunch to save money on food. You may be inspired by something you see or learn at one of these places.

Zone into your personal creative space.

When I’m in the studio working on an art project and listening to a good Pandora station, I’m in my zone. It’s my favorite place to be, and it is my zen. Whether it’s making music, creating art, cooking, or running, whatever your zen is, go do that.

Everyone needs a creative outlet, and when I can’t go actively experience a new inspiring place, I go back to the one I know is always there.

Seclude yourself in nature.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I find comfort in the middle of nowhere. It’s helpful to disconnect from civilization and cell phone service to seclude your thoughts. Sometimes it feels like you are in a foreign place.

Take a hike, bring a yoga mat, a snack, and your dog. Go explore or relax. Refresh and reboot your mind before taking on your next task or a busy week at work.

Dive into an alternative reality.

Sometimes all I need is a day spent reading an inspiring book to make me feel like I’ve traveled to a different world. You don’t have to go anywhere. Don’t even put your pants on. It’s good for the soul.

In the meantime, start saving for your next travel adventure by putting spare change and cash into a savings jar, and by transferring $50 of every paycheck (or whatever amount you can budget) into a separate savings account. If you’re planning for a specific trip, budget how much money you need to save per paycheck in order to pay off your trip by the time it arrives.

All it takes is a lot of planning and research to make your travel ideas a reality, and a few creative adventures to hold you over until then.