As a perpetual college student living in New York, Frances knows how to make every last dollar count both in the City and in her travels abroad. She’s not about that whole backpacking, taking 12 hour buses and eating from grocery stores kind of life either. Like me, Frances loves to live like she’s blowing through a trust fund her dead grandmother left her five years ago, when in reality we’re both pretty much…poor. Below she’s clued us in on how she makes all of her travels look glamorous even on the measly amount of allowance her parents give her each month. You’re welcome.
Once upon a time, if you couldn’t afford a hotel, your only option was a hostel. This usually meant a dorm room with six other backpackers from God knows where, communal showers, and the possibility of never seeing your passport again. Enter Airbnb, this nifty little website which allows you to book the coolest private residences last-minute for great deals. It’s the perfect tool for anyone who can’t afford the Ritz, but isn’t about to share a shower with Ingrid either.
Hotel Tonight is the best travel app out there right now. When 3-4 star hotels have rooms that are still available the day of, they offer huge deals of up to 50% off. It’s a little risky to rely on this for hotel reservations but its definitely worth it to stay in a four-star hotel for just $100 a night.
Skyscanner and Airfare Spot should become your go-tos for cheap flights. Skyscanner lets you search by cheapest flight leaving from your local airport, and Airfare Spot has ridiculously low deals. Right now you can book a flight from New York to Paris for less than $350 bucks. Think of all the money you’ll have left to spend on Macarons and fine wines you don’t actually like, but are good for the Insta.
Rather than pay to check a suitcase invest in a sturdy overnight bag and backpack. Maximize your space by packing “military style”, instead of folding your clothes roll them and double your space. Apps like PackingPro! let you organize everything right down humidity and even type of fabric. If you can pack well before you leave, you won’t lose money mid-trip when you realize you forgot all your shoes and underwear at home.
Nothing makes you feel as good as good food does. If you’re going to blow your money on one part of the trip, make it food. After all, you never want to look back and say “I really wish I hadn’t eaten that gas station sandwich”. As someone who’s made that choice, take it from me download the Yelp app, and opt for a sit down meal at a place without pictures on the menu; you won’t regret it.
Instagram is your best friend. Its proof that you went somewhere beautiful, ate fancy food, and wore cool clothes. No one has to know you got there on $200 and haven’t showered in a week.
Frances Dean is a student at Barnard College in New York and an Editorial Intern at Harper’s Bazaar