How A 23-Year-Old Travels The World On Weekends For Under $1K

How A 23-Year-Old Travels The World On Weekends For Under $1K

The Trip Of A Lifetime

Elona the Explorer

After 26 hours on the air, she stepped off the plane. She’d literally flown across the globe - from New York to Vancouver to Hong Kong and finally to Bali… but there was no time to waste. She would only be there for four days. She watched the sunset at Balangan Beach, surfed in Kuta, partied in Seminyak, and stood under the waterfalls in Ubud. When it was all said and done, she’d spent less than $1000. And it was not the first trip where she’d managed this feat.

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Working Travel Girl

Facebook/Elona the Explorer

Despite what it may seem, Elona Karafin is no jet-setter or Condé Nast travel writer. She is a normal 24-year-old who works full-time as a financial analyst at an e-commerce and postage supply company. But there is definitely something special about her. Elona has made it her mission to travel to as many places as she can, for as little money as she can spend. At her young age, it looks like she’s well on her way to fulfilling her dream.

Elona the Explorer

Facebook/Elona the Explorer

Elona lives in New York, but she has been all over the world. Aside from Bali, she’s visited places like Iceland, Mongolia, Portugal, Paris, Puerto Rico, Belize, Sri Lanka, and many more. She documents it all on her blog, “Elona the Explorer.” But she doesn’t do it to show off and make others jealous of her globe-trotting lifestyle. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: she wants her experiences to help people realize that they can do it too.

Appreciate Your Youth

Facebook/Elona the Explorer

When Elona was 10 years old, she became very sick. She spent the next two years in treatment to get healthy again, which taught her a valuable lesson about life. "I don't want to waste away my youth and I don't want others to waste away their youth and I don't want them to do it because people think they don't have enough money or enough time,” she says. And so, her wanderlust began. But how does she do it?

Don't Let Your Bank Account Stop You

Elona the Explorer

Despite what many may think, Elona is not rich. "I work a full-time job and I'm fresh out of college, so I'm not exactly making the big bucks," she says. Still, she didn’t want to let that stop her from fulfilling her dreams. “People around me, people my age or people older, everyone is dealing with something that stops them from doing what they want to do." That wasn’t in her nature, so she got crafty.

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Making The Time Count

Elona the Explorer

Throughout the years, Elona has been able to visit exciting, far-away places in short periods of time, like Dubai in four days, Amsterdam in two days, and even Poland in eight hours. "I surprised my best friend for her birthday, I flew out on a Saturday,” she remembers. When she has less time or is on a tighter budget, she travels domestically - from Sonoma to Atlanta to Miami and more. She’s a seasoned traveler by now, and she wants others to follow her lead.

Showing Others They Can Do It

Instagram/elonatheexplorer

Elona started her blog to show others that worldwide travel is possible, even for working people just like her. "You have time. You can make time. Even the busiest people in the world, they have time," she says. "That's why I focus so much on weekend trips." And she’s not stingy with her travel tips, which have become one of the most popular features on her blog.

Flying On The Cheap

Elona the Explorer

One of the most important things when traveling on a budget, Elona says, is finding cheap flights. And she has a few tricks up her sleeve to make it happen. When she searches for tickets online, she disables the cookies on her browser so travel sites won’t base the airfares on her past purchases. "They assume that's what you're willing to pay," says Elona. Another secret for cheap travel? Be spontaneous.

Just Go Anywhere

Elona the Explorer

We all have dream destinations or places we’ve always wanted to visit. But sometimes, you have to go off the beaten path and consider locations you’d never thought about before - especially if it’s cheap to fly there. "I use websites that allow me to put 'everywhere' as a destination, and New York as my origin," says Elona. Her favorite site for deals is Jetradar.com. But her biggest secret weapon is research.

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Knowledge Is Power

Elona the Explorer

Elona definitely takes her time when planning and researching a trip, because she wants to know she’s found the cheapest flights and cheapest accommodations. And she’s not shy about asking for help. “I visit many blogs for tips and message the blogger with questions." She’s also a master of Excel, creating spreadsheets to keep track of prices. That said, things don’t always go according to plan.

Plan Ahead But Be Flexible

Facebook/Elona the Explorer

When traveling for short periods like Elona does, it’s important to have everything mapped out - but also to have contingency plans in case something goes wrong. It’s also a good idea not to book things in advance because there’s always a chance you’ll find a better deal. “I try to meet locals right away. If I’m sitting at a restaurant, I ask the waiter/waitress, what's the best way to get into a sight or an attraction,” she says. And Elona’s money smarts aren’t limited to her travels.

Save Anywhere You Can

Facebook/Elona the Explorer

Part of being able to travel as often as Elona does is to save as much money as you can in your everyday life. As a financial analyst, she has quite a few good tips to make this happen, like putting a portion of your paycheck in a high-yield savings account. She also buys expensive items through deals and sales just like when she travels. Clearly, she’s a master budget traveler… but how does she juggle it with a full-time job?

Work Smart, Play Smart

Facebook/Elona the Explorer

As a full-time employee, Elona receives a set number of paid vacation days every year, and she takes full advantage of them. "Many people think that taking time off is frowned upon in a corporate environment,” she says, “I tackle this misconception by working really hard and constantly asking for new projects and tasks to take on. The latter proves that I am serious about my work." And Elona’s time management skills are unbeatable.

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Master Of Time

Facebook/Elona the Explorer

Elona is able to travel to such faraway places by maximizing her weekends and paid time off. "I take two, three days off at a time and combine them with a weekend, creating a long weekend,” she says. That is how she managed to make it to Bali without taking more than a couple of days off. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Elona also runs her own charity.

A Giver

Checkmate, Cancer!

Given her experience with cancer as a child, Elona wanted to help other children who are going through the same difficulties. She founded Checkmate, Cancer! In 2013 to raise money to participate in the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s Walkathon. Since then, the organization has fundraised more than $100,000. With that money, they provide financial and emotional support to underprivileged children with cancer and their families.

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