Home » Brew Time » Beer Traveling on a Beer Budget

Beer Traveling on a Beer Budget

I’d love to say that I can go anywhere on a dime, but a dime is all about I can spare these days. Somehow, I manage to travel for beer with proper planning and budgeting. My alter ego is “The Hoppy Nomad,” and as such, I have to live up to my name. When I had champagne tastes on the same level budget many moons ago, I was fortunate enough to travel to Europe and explore some of craft beer’s finest offerings. Then 2008 happened and I was back to my college level finances but with a craft beer palate and hankering for more nomadic ways.

 As time has passed, I’ve learned to be crafty – from volunteering at brew fests to driving to destinations within reach. Luckily, living in this part of the country makes it easy to take a jaunt to the Finger Lakes, New York City, New England and Canada. Having said that, everything still has a price – from rising gas prices to lodging and buying great beer we can’t get here. My dilemma has been to find a delicate balance between trying great craft beer in other places, all while not maxing brew5out my credit card. Honestly, you really don’t have to leave Central New York to get some fine handcrafted beer at a decent price – that’s the beauty of this place. Since I’m The Hoppy Nomad, I can’t stay in one place for too long without catching the travel bug. Just recently I was in Burlington, Vermont for the Vermont Brewer’s Fest. I never thought I would be able to go since the tickets for that event sell out in minutes. How did I do it? I’ll tell you how and you just might be inspired to try this yourself.

Once I got on the website and saw that there were no tickets left for the two-day event, I didn’t let that discourage me and close the tab. I found the “Contact Us” link and directly wrote to the event planners and asked if I could volunteer for the event. I immediately received a response and was told that I could! My next issue was lodging. If you’ve never been to Burlington (like me), let me tell you that lodging for that weekend is either all sold out and extremely expensive any time of year. Knowing I absolutely couldn’t afford lodging, I went to a great website called couchsurfing.com. It’s a community of people who open up their homes (apartments, futons, rooms, etc.) for free. I’ve couchsurfed twice and have had great experiences. I gave it a shot and received five responses. One fellow happened to be a craft beer aficionado and was working the event as well. Perfect! The most I spent was on gas and pizza. brew4With my bags in tow, car loaded up, I drove through the beautiful Adirondacks to get to Vermont. My host was gracious and kind and had a large futon for me in the living room. We went to the brew fest together, where I met his friends and sampled some great Vermont and New England beer. It was one of the best beer experiences I’ve had so far and would highly recommend it to those of you who are open-minded (most craft beer lovers are!) and willing to have new experiences. You really don’t have to have mbrew3uch to enjoy the pleasures that beer and travel will bring to you – the two go hand in hand in my opinion. With clever planning and a little bit of Internet searching and networking, you can make anything happen! I did and will continue to do so, even if my budget at some point starts to increase – the experiences I’ve had have been so memorable I don’t think I would change how I travel for beer. Sure, you can drink a Vermont beer at a local bar, but why not experience their scene, their small microbreweries you’ve never heard of, and enjoy yourself? So if you think you can’t afford it, think twice and you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish on a limited budget. The next time you think you can’t visit a brewery or go to a brew fest that’s more than 100 miles away, remember what I told you and have faith! Cheers!

Gloria Rakowsky