Whenever people talk to me about traveling, money is always brought up:
“How do you afford to travel so often?”
“I can’t afford to do that”
“I don’t make enough money to be able to go places”
“I wish I could but I’m broke”
And 9 times out of 10, a person drops out of a trip because of the finances of it.
I hate that! I wish I had unlimited funds to rain down on all the poor, broke people who want to travel. But heres a little secret… I AM A POOR BROKE PERSON MYSELF! I am a registered veterinary technician… and if you think that makes me good money then you’re sadly misinformed.
So even though I am broke like you (…you’re reading this so I assume you are also living the poor life), I still visit at least 5 new countries a year.
How the hell….?
Here are the ‘how the hell’ steps that you may or may not want to apply to your own life to help you make that next trip happen (and not just dream about it on your Pinterest board). Consider this a little window into my life during the times that I am hunkered down and saving for the next trip.
1. Make Travel Your Top Priority
Travel comes first. That means your new pair of shoes are gonna have to wait. That optional house project? Put it on the back burner. Oh there’s a new video game out? Do people play those? Don’t buy that. Your friend got a cool new bike and wants you to join a rebellious bike gang? Say no. You have a trip to save for.
2. Get yourself a side-hustle (or three)
Why are you only working one job? You’ve got places to go and plane tickets to buy. Get yourself a side hustle and make more money. Work more. Drive for Uber, Uber Eats or Lyft. Sell your belongings on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Open up an Etsy shop and start selling those weird cat butt-hole coasters you’ve been making…(is that just me..?) Is your work offering you overtime? Kill anyone who stands in your way and you get that overtime.
*All of your side-hustle money should go straight into a travel account and NOT into your regular budget for normal daily living. Establish a good budget with your ONE MAIN JOB and be able to maintain your life on just that income. All the extra money should be for your adventures, not for your bills.
Which brings me to the next tip…
3. Open up a separate travel account
Whether this account is just a savings account with your regular bank, or whether its a completely separate bank… just have your travel funds separate from your regular funds. I have all of my travel money in a different account at a different bank and I leave that debit card at home. So I am at no point tempted to spend that travel money while I am out and about living my daily life.
4. Sneak money away from yourself like a little travel thief
I use the app Digit to slowly sneak money out of my accounts to save up for certain trip goals. I’ll ignore it for a while and pop in the app to say hello and I’ll have over a hundred dollars waiting for me. Its magic and it makes me feel like someone is paying me secret money.
5. Give yourself a weekly allowance
I set a limit of $20 per week. I get this in actual CASH (in whaaaaat?) and once that $20 is gone, I don’t leave my house (except to hustle).
6. STOP EATING OUT
Check your bank statement. HOW MUCH OF THAT IS FOOD? Probably all of it. People spend so much money going out to lunch, going out to dinner, grabbing snacks here and there. Just grocery shop and meal prep. Your body and your bank account will thank you.
*Side note: if you hear rumors of free food somewhere at work, you hunt down that food and you eat it.
7. Prepare for emergencies
In between trips, try to put away money in case of an emergency. That way if you’re saving up for a trip and all of a sudden your car explodes, you can hit up those emergency funds instead of canceling a trip.
8. Set a monthly goal
Right now I have a trip that will cost $3,800 and I have 13 months before I leave on that trip (this is the most expensive trip I have ever planned, so its an extreme example). That means I should be putting away $300-$350 per month for this trip. With a good side-hustle that should be easy peasy (theoretically).
9. Identify where you’re spending the most money and cut it
Write out all your bills. Everything that you HAVE to pay for. Now write out everything optional you pay for. Gym memberships, Netflix and related accounts, Wifi, the things you don’t need for survival. What can you cut out? What can you do without? Maybe don’t cut it out completely, but maybe alter it so you save a little bit of money. Be stingy.
10. TRAVEL CHEAP
Most important tip ever. If you make your travels cheaper, you’ll be able to do it much more often.
Fly cheap. Check Skyscanner for the best rates and be easy-going about your flight options. Don’t pay for that fancy seat, never check a bag, fly out at the butt crack of dawn. Anything that will make it cheaper.
Don’t stay in a hotel! Get your lodging on Hostelworld. Hostels are a great way to make friends and they always have a little kitchen so you can cook your own meals and save money while you’re traveling. If you really don’t like the hostel life (please try it before you knock it) stay in an Airbnb (preferably a yurt) where there is a kitchen for you to utilize the majority of the time.
Do an INSANE AMOUNT OF RESEARCH. There is something romantic about just buying a flight and flinging your body into another country, but a lot of times this ends up with people spending more money because they haven’t fully researched all the options. If you hate this concept, just sign up for one of my cheap trips and let me do the research for you.
Travel in groups. You know whats cheaper than a private suite? A 10 bed dorm room. When you split money across a group of people, everyone benefits (except that one person that hates all people because they think its cool to hate people).
So there you have it. I’m gonna be honest with you. This all sounds like a lot of work, and it really truly is. But if traveling is something you want to do, its going to have to be something you work for.
Like all good things.
Have anymore money-saving tips for travel? Drop them below!