Ever since people took notice of my love for travel there are definitely a few questions that I get asked repetitively. Amongst the most popular questions are: ‘Do you work?’ ‘What’s your all-time favorite destination?’ ‘Where are you off to next?’ Surprisingly what doesn’t come up too often is ‘How do you afford to travel?’ I guess people think that’s too much prying or none of their damn business. The answer, by the way, is that I have an amazing work team that allows me a flexible schedule and if I am honest, financially, I am comfortable enough to be able to do so. But don’t be fooled by my circumstances into thinking my trips are laps of luxury without a thought or care in the world. I’m usually the one wringing the life out of every deal and figuring out how we can economize better. Sometimes it’s so drastic that my friends throw around the word cheap with my name attached to it! Without tooting my own horn I think I’d actually be a pretty good adviser in the realm of travel and budget. With that said and understanding that all our situations are different here’s my advice as to How YOU can afford to travel!
1. Be Pro-Active.
People have started conversations with me by saying ‘I wish I could do that trip you did’ or ‘Im living vicariously through you’ and If they’re serious I tell them it all starts with intent. They think they can’t because of time off, finances, distance or other obligations. And perhaps at the moment, they can’t do a big trip but travel and vacation don’t have to be grande and expensive. Think of something you can do, set your sights on it, plan and execute! Maybe its a waterfall you’ve seen pictures of but never figured you would be able to find or a weekend road trip. Oftentimes the more you accomplish is the more you realize what you’re capable of and your big goals don’t seem as unattainable as before! I honestly never would have imagined I would have gotten to see even a quarter of the places I had and a decision to go on a small trip to Costa Rica completely changed my outlook! I realized I didn’t just have to travel to places I was familiar with before and language wasn’t the barrier id even think it was!
2. Save more, waste less
If finances are your main deterrent to traveling then this is kind of a no-brainer and even though it should go without saying I’m always surprised at how bad so many people are with their personal finances. They spend a ton of money on things they don’t need or don’t budget properly and end up not being able to save. The simplest things you’re doing like eating out instead of making your own lunch are costing you a lot more than you think. And there are some that will say ‘well I want to eat out and enjoy myself’ or ‘I can’t bother with the hassle of making my own lunch’ and to that, I’d say ok well then do that instead! There is a common thread in so many articles I’ve read about people who saved up to travel the world and that’s that they had to make sacrifices to save up for the trip including riding bicycles to work, packing their own lunch, drinking at home with friends instead of bar hopping etc.
On a personal note, a big pet peeve of mine is when things are just wasted. A big motto I try to live by is ‘waste not, want not’. I try my best not to waste food, I don’t sign up for the gym unless I’m going regularly, I carpool if it just makes more sense and you won’t ever find me throwing away the tube of toothpaste until you best believe all of it has been squeezed out! Simple math is that the less you waste, the more you’re able to save!
3. Be Informed
Like Scar famously said ‘Be prepared!’ Basically, if you’re dreaming about it then do some research on how to make it happen. Gather information way in advance of your trip! If it’s a flight somewhere search some routes or possible dates on Kayak.com. You may find that certain dates have cheaper fares. You will find that if you travel a certain airline often it pays to join their travel program. You may find a museum you may want to go to has free admission on a certain day. You may find if you travel in the shoulder season your trip becomes that more affordable! In this day and age of internet blogging, there is always someone who has done what you’re looking to do and they almost always have tips to maximize your time or save you money ie. make your travel affordable!
4. Be flexible and easy going!
The more flexible you are the easier your trip is going to be to plan. If you’re not confining yourself to first class, five-star accommodations and Michelin star restaurants your trip can become that much more affordable. Again, it may take a little bit of sacrifice but I always think of it as a game of how I can make things affordable. Recently on my last trip, I had to check out of my hotel room at 12 PM and my flight didn’t leave until 9 PM. Instead of booking an extra night for the comfort of having a room I stored my luggage, swam in the hotel pool after my workout and changed in their public restroom to go to the airport. When a hotel employee came in the restroom to use it I just laughed it off with him. If you’re flexible enough you may even be able to make money for your next trip. I have a friend who always has her ears perked up at the airport seeing if an airline has overbooked and is going to offer a free credit for anyone who wants to stay behind a few extra hours!
5. Be kind
Lead with kindness! How is that even relevant to traveling? Well, the truth is, just like the rest of this list, these tips really aren’t just limited to traveling but good life hacks in general. I don’t always succeed but I always try to lead with kindness and I can cheesily say its the golden rule for a reason! I can’t tell you the amount of times on the number of trips that simply being kind has helped me out! Whether it’s an early check-in, or a discounted rate, an upgraded room, a bus drive when I have no coins on me, local tips on saving money! I’ve made friends in so many different countries that I can go and stay with and truthfully would rather do so for a local flavor. It literally pays to be kind and it costs you nothing. Even if you get nothing in return and you’ve made someone smile then that’s more than reason enough to be kind.
If there’s any kind of take away its simply that affording to travel is a combination of smart decisions before, during and even after your trip. I truly believe every one of us can afford to do so whether small or big and a lot of the times were the only ones limiting ourselves. If there is a will there is a way!