Traveling Cheaply / by Shivang Patel

A few months ago I decided that I wanted to see the world and travel after I finished my undergraduate studies. I have a few friends who have done something similar, and know many more who have told me that traveling is something I will never regret. The more and more I thought about it, the more certain I became that I wanted to travel. Never in my life will I have several months where I can travel without any cares.

This is my tentative travel itinerary: 

Now that I had made up my mind, the big question looming around was being able to afford traveling for so long. Traveling for four months is not a cheap affair. Firstly, I had a job with which I was able to save up quite a bit of money. For anyone who is in college wanting to travel afterwards, having a job and saving that money is a must in my opinion.

Secondly, whenever I have spent my money I have used it very conscientiously—making it work for me. This began with using the right credit cards at the right time. Why use a credit card or debit card if it's not rewarding you for using it. That's why I seldom use cash. I've had a credit cards since I was 18 (something I recommend, but you have to pay off your statement in full each month),  so I was able to get a premium credit card—the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

With this card, if you spend $4,000 in three months you can earn 50,000 points worth $625. This is a very large amount, but I was able to get the 50,000 bonus points because I paid utilities at my apartment, used my card to pay rent and all my other expenses, and was able to get my parents to use the card for their expenses and pay me back. This way $4,000 over the course of three months was a very plausible goal. With this card, I can earn 2X the points on all food and travel purchases.

A couple months later, I got Chase's Freedom card, which allowed me to earn 5X points on various categories that change every quarter. 

In addition to using these two cards, I used Chase's "Shop through Chase" service. By using this service instead of going to a store to make the same purchase I would have made anyway, I was able to earn 2X-25X points. An example of when I used this service was when I needed to buy a travel bag. I went with the Osprey Porter 46, but instead of buying it from REI or even Osprey's store, I found that I earned 8X points if I bought the same bag through Chase via

Through meticulous shopping, spending, and saving, I was able to accumulate a massive amount of points that have allowed to pay for a huge portion of my trip for free.

Other methods of saving money: staying in hostels (Hostelworld is great), couch-surfing, and using discount airlines such as RyanAir and EasyJet.

I am also fortunate to have parents who are chipping in. In total my trip is costing me approximately $4,500 USD—money that I am sure will be well spent.