10 ways to satisfy your wanderlust when you’re too broke to travel

If you’ve had the misfortune of getting excited over the thought of traveling before coming face-to-face with the fact that you can’t afford to, listen up: You’re not the only one stressing over being too broke to travel. A 2016 report found that one of the main reasons more than half of U.S. workers have unused paid vacation days every year is because they can’t afford to travel.

When you want to scratch that travel itch but can’t quite stretch your budget to reach it, you have a few options: Piss and moan about how being broke sucks so hard while blocking every single travel blogger on all your social media accounts, or throw caution (and good money-managing skills) to the wind and charge an expensive flight to La La Land on your credit card (annnnd you’ll be sorry for it later).

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Or you could bookmark all your favorite travel discount websites until you can scrape together enough pennies to make it happen. Until then, get creative and come up with ways to satisfy your wanderlust.

1Get into the local arts scene.

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Hit up open mic nights, art museums, visit a dance theater, or buy a ticket to a play. Take in a musical performance, which are oftentimes free or really cheap at local universities or colleges.

2Visit the planetarium.

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Just because your body is temporarily confined to one spot doesn’t mean your mind has to be. Take a trip to the planetarium to learn all about the planets, stars, galaxies and constellations might help get your mind off the fact that you and your lack of travel funds are super tiny in comparison to the rest of the cosmos.

3Book a hotel.

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So, we know what you’re thinking: Staying in hotel will only serve as a huge reminder that you can’t afford a getaway. But consider this: It gets you out of the house and offers a change of scenery that can’t be achieved by sitting around moping about your non-existent vacation. To get the sense that you’re actually on some exotic jaunt, stay overnight in a neighboring city or a part of town you rarely frequent.

4Take a tour of your city.

Visit the historic spots of your town. Get more acquainted with the area by digging for little-known facts about your city. Download an app for exploring cities, and pretend to be a stranger in the place you call home.

5Meet friends at a new restaurant.

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And not just any ol’ chain restaurant. Be adventurous! Search online or ask friends for recommendations to a locally-owned place or a spot where the fresh, new menu items will temporarily transport you and your taste buds to another place.

6Photograph your city.

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Don’t worry if your photos aren’t worthy of all the likes on Instagram. Let your creativity and your inner photog guide you to some of the most photographed areas in your town as well as some that receive less attention. Make a collage of the pics you snap to reassure yourself that staying home isn’t as boring and sad as your travel-deprived mind has led you to believe.

7Rearrange your place.

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Argh, who cares about feng shui when they could be catching a flight?! We feel your struggle, truly. Although it may not be a new location, your place will feel and look like new if you give it a nice makeover.


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Travel takes us away from everyday things that pressure, bother and bore us to tears. Since you’re so desperate for a getaway, it could be a sign that you need to clear your mind. And you can accomplish that by meditating and focusing on the present in an attempt to gain a greater appreciation for the little things.

9Break up your daily routine.

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Instead of doing the same old wash, rinse, and repeat routine, take a new route to work or make time for fun activities and socializing during the week instead of waiting to live your life on the weekends.

10Start a travel savings account.

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Whether you stash a dollar or $50, knowing that you’re at least working towards a travel goal will ease your wanderlust until you can actually afford to go out and see the world.