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The Hustler’s Guide to Budget Travel

In a few weeks, I’m headed on a three week adventure starting in Jaipur, India and ending in Cape Town, South Africa—and my trip is mostly free. While I’m definitely taking applications for sponsors, Sugar Daddies and other hood rich streams of revenue, none of these assistance programs helped me get there. My trip is free because I’m a hustler.

My business card may say otherwise, but my friends know I’ll sell pretty much anything that’s not bolted to the floor and if you stand near me for long enough you might find a price tag taped to your back. I’m one of the most financially irresponsible people I know and yet I have repeatedly found ways to make a dollar out of 15 cents, sometimes returning from trips with more money in my bank account than when I left.

You too can make it rain passport stamps with a hustler mentality, an ear to these travel streets and your eyes on the skies.

Ever wonder how that chick in your Instagram feed ends up on pristine beaches and random desert animals every other month with that part-time job as a singing ice cream scooper at Cold Stone? She probably has a travel fund, which is the fool-proof way to fund your trips.

First open an account with Mint and set your financial goals. Then arrange an automatic draft from your paycheck to a high-yield savings account so your money never sees the light of Zara. Occasionally, Mint will tell you about yourself with these nosy reminders about your spending and you’ll be like ‘You don’t know my life’ but out of nowhere you’ll check the balance and see you have enough for your vacation!

So here’s the thing; the laws in certain states and buildings make apartment renting illegal. But I, um, heard you can make a ton of money by renting out your apartment on Airbnb. This has theoretically been my number one moneymaker for my travels over the past few years. And before you ask, yes, people will touch your stuff. Their little stranger hands will be all over your remote control and all up in your refrigerator looking to see what breakfast treats you left them. If that freaks you out, then Airbnb is probably not worth it for you. But if you’re open, your humble abode can become a stream of income that makes your future beach trips a whole lot cheaper.

All this ‘Bye, Felicia’ hype is nonsense—as long as Felicia has a few dollars, she can borrow your car all she wants to. Services like Relay Rides allow you to make money while your car is just sitting around collecting bird treats all day. Or if you’re headed out of town, you can rent it to savvy travelers coming in at the airport from which you departed. But, like Airbnb, if you’re not comfortable with people in your space, this may not be the move for you.

Hey you over there, the one scared of the Internets with the little blue man as your Facebook profile picture and throwing shade at us tweeters! Please understand that you’re never gonna catch these crazy flight glitches—read AMAZING DEALS—if you’re not plugged into social media. The Flight Deal consistently breaks the Internet, sending your broke brethren into a frenzy with some $75 return flight to Heaven on Earth. To catch these flubs, check your feeds early and often as word spreads fast and seats sell out quickly.

From travel hacking and points hoarding to staying in hostels over hotels, there are so many ways to beat the system when it comes to travel and keeping your coins. Ultimately, you need a ‘by any means neccesasry’ attitude when it comes to achieving your jaunting dreams. Whether it’s a trip home to visit family or an international adventure, you’ll get there faster if you abandon the wait and save method and pursue your passions with a relentless spirit.

– Tracey Coleman, a witty storyteller from Brooklyn with an unhealthy obsession with food and an even bigger appetite for travel.  Follow her adventures at @bktraveladdict on Instagram and Twitter, and on Facebook.

Last 5 posts by Tracey Coleman