How to Plan a Trip When You’re Short on Time—And Cash

by Published

Sometimes, life comes at you fast. Caught up in the day to day chores and to do lists and studying, it can be easy to lose track of time. All the sudden, you have a break coming up and you have no plans or you realize the end of your college career is on the horizon and you haven’t studied abroad yet! 

If this sounds like you, don’t fret. Just like that last minute paper, you can plan travel when you’re short on time. But, before we dive into how to plan a trip on a short budget (both time and cash), there are a few things to take into account. 

Flat lay photography of a world map, money, compass, cactus and a tiny telescope model.

Short on time and cash? With the right resources, you’ll be onto your next destination in no time! Let the adventure begin. 😎

Three things to consider when you plan an international trip

If you try and tackle all of your trip planning at once, it  can quickly become overwhelming. Hotels and transportation  and location and budget and all the other parts of what make a good trip quickly become too much to handle simultaneously. 

When figuring out how to plan for a trip, it is best to start with these three key things: decide where you are headed, think about when you are planning on heading out on your adventure, and find a program that fits your schedule and budget. 

1. Figure out where you’re headed

This can sometimes be the most overwhelming part when you plan travel: with the world at your feet how can you possible chose a location?

For those strapped for time and money, we suggest looking to places that a bit off the beaten path. Why? For one, less mainstream places are less likely to fill up as quickly, so you can buy tickets and book accommodations closer to your departure and not pay out the nose for booking last minute. 

These opportunities also offer more meaningful travel experience, and at GoAbroad, meaningful travel is something we are really into. Sure, Cabo with your friends is cool, but if a trip to Angor Wat costs the same and offers greater chances for some truly meaningful and unforgettable experiences, it might be a better option. 

Chart that says funding+saving=benefit

The key to success! Map out your game plan and get the show on the road.✈️

2. When it comes to cost, timing is everything 

Airlines and hotels are smart enough to know when the high season is for different locales and, of course, they price gauge those choosing to travel during high season. If you learn nothing else about how to plan an international trip, learn this: The difference between visiting a locale in high season versus low-season can be the difference of literally hundreds or thousands of dollars. 

But, this works in the reverse as well. If you are able to be patient and flexible, you can find some amazing deals online to locations during low season. This can mean 80% of the same experience (maybe slightly less ideal weather or a few less available activities) but you get to travel at a steep discount. 

When you are selecting when to travel and are hoping to save some money, look into when the high and low seasons are of your final destination. This can help rule out a few locations as well as unearth some new locales you didn’t originally didn’t consider.   

Places that tend to be hotter will have their high season in the winter when the weather is bearable,  making their summer low season. Of course, the disadvantage of going somewhere that is hot in the summer is that, well, it might be really hot. But if you can find a way to cope with the heat, you will enjoy a nice discount on hotels and flights. 

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If a locale as a winter downseason, it can mean battling through some less than ideal weather, but again, if you can hack it, you will enjoy steep discounts. The other advantage of traveling in a low season is that there are less people. Shorter lines for activities and less hustle and bustle can make up for visiting in the low season. 

A one dollar bill leaning against the wall on a glossy surface

Look around your house for some old knick knacks you can sell— every dollar counts!💵

3. Look into what adventure travel programs are available

What if the easiest way to plan an international trip...involved the least amount of actual planning? Finding a program to take you on your international adventure has a few advantages. First, it takes some of the guesswork out of travel, which is really nice if you are short on time. Many programs also will help set up everything from activities to accomodations, so all you have to do is show up and enjoy! Especially on a short term trip, this means you don’t waste any time “figuring things out” and all of your time exploring. 

How does one go about finding a program? An online advisor can help you find a program and start to plan your international trip in no time! 

Affordable trips to help get you started 

To get you started, below are a few awesome awesome programs located around the world. You can peruse these (and more!) at GoAbroad.

CIP logo

1. Study Chinese in China with CIP

Study Chinese at a Chinese university in China! CIP offers intensive language courses in some of China’s most vibrant cities. And since students who join the program are living in China, they have the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom in everyday as they navigate life in China. 

  • Where? Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, or Shenzhen
  • When? Summer
  • More info: Read CIP reviews
IVHQ logo

2. Volunteer and teach in South Africa with IVHQ

IVHQ is the answer to how to plan a trip when you’re short on time and on a tight budget. They’re low cost options make it easy to have an incredible (while still affordable) experience abroad. Volunteer teachers in South Africa will work closely with teachers in their school, helping to tutor students one-on-one. Typical subjects taught at the school could include English, Mathematics, Life Skills, Social Studies, Art and Physical studies. As a volunteer you may also be asked to help with other programs at the school, including sports programs.

Picture of person getting meal

Choosing the right program will let you eat like a king for the low-low (well… kinda)🍲

Gap Force logo

3. Trek in India and Nepal with GapForce

You’re a different kind of trekkie. With GapForce, you can stop asking how to plan a trip and just start planning it! Join Gapforce on an amazing journey through the Indian subcontinent. This program is the perfect combo of volunteering programs in two countries followed by an epic 2,000 mile adventure. Just make sure your pack is on straight! 

GoEco logo

4. Work as a conservation volunteer in New Zealand with GoEco

Calling all nature lovers and humans of Middle Earth! There are more than 2000 projects in need of your helping hands year-round. Most projects include challenging physical work and provide both long lasting friendships, and central knowledge about wildlife in the region. So if you’re looking to get involved with reforestation efforts and nature surveying, you’re going to want to plan this international trip asap! 

Global Works logo

5. Hit the waves and then the mountains in Costa Rica with Global Works 

With Global Works, planning an international trip that’s meaningful is easy. Your days will include hiking through lush cloud forests, rafting the Pacuare, taking volcano tours, participating in environmental volunteer projects, taking rainforest excursions, and surfing at pristine beach locations. HELLOOOOO DREAM TRIP. 

[Browse ALL the Adventure Travel Programs Out There]

Sign that says Until Debt Tear Us Apart

#Mood…. At the end of the day, we die with our memories—not our money.💰

How to plan a trip for you too-stoked travelers

Are you all psyched up for your upcoming trip? Great! Below are a few more helpful resources to  help you in your planning phase:

These resources are just scraping the top of the iceberg of all the great resources you can find at GoAbroad!

Planning an international trip never looked so easy

Don’t let a lack of time, money, or know-how keep you from traveling abroad. Using the resources provided above and a little bit of planning, traveling abroad can totally be done even on limited time or budget. Have a great trip! 

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Topic:  Travel Tips