Happy Holidays my dear readers and fellow adventurers. This seemed like an appropriate topic to cover on the holiday 🙂
Yes I know this article has been done a million times, by much better bloggers and more experienced travelers than myself. However, I never get tired of reading these articles and getting new ideas.
I also believe that travel and experience is exceptionally unique and should by tailored accordingly. Thus, the crazy safari jungle vacations of one might be a night mare to another and hostels may seem like a dream to some and a bad horror movie to others.
So let me tell you in brief how I afford to travel, some basics on how much I travel, how much it costs, and then in the future delve into the details of each item that I address quickly here. I’ve placed links throughout of things that help me with my travels. None are sponsored, but even if they were, I would only give you stuff I actually use!
I travel cheap. Not sleep under a bridge cheap. Not even always staying in a $10/night hostel. And not always to the cheapest countries (Norway and Iceland twice). But far cheaper than most people I know. I don’t spend money going out to fancy restaurants, flying first class, staying in the Ritz Carlton, etc.
I live a lifestyle and that helps me save money. I drink occasionally but try for inexpensive drinks. I rarely spend more than than $30 on a night dinner. I don’t go to expensive events often. I wear inexpensive clothes and have inexpensive housing.
My job is one of the best jobs I can get in my field without sacrificing flexibility. And I work to maximize my income/time-spent-working ratio.
Skyscanner and Monodo are my favorite tools to find cheap flights. I try to plan ahead and constantly research flights to different places I am interested in so I know what a good deal is when I see one.
I play the credit card game inspired and popularized by The Points Guy. Basically, I open airline credit cards offering good bonuses for minimum spending amounts and use the card till I get the bonus, than I move on to the next one.
When it comes to booking a flight, I optimize my miles. Miles are best used for domestic flights. If the flight can be purchased for under $100, I won’t use miles. Between $100-200 I will consider miles. And if over $200, than I almost never pay for a flight.
I hardly ever check bags, use only a personal item when flying budget, and don’t pay for upgrades. Two years ago I went to Europe and took 7 more flights while there and spent less than $800 on all 8 flights including the one way flight to Europe (I used miles to return home).
I try to avoid dept. Unfortunately I bought a house and have a mortgage which I won’t be doing again. I also bought a car with a car payment and then worked hard to pay it off as quick as possible. Same with my school loans. I never keep credit card debt. My goal is to sell my house and be completely debt free by 2018.
Find a job that is conducive to your travel desires. Whether its something flexible, something that pays you to travel, something you can take with you when you travel, or something that just pays enough that you can afford to leave it to travel. What ever you have to do to make it work.
You can afford to travel while waiting tables. I’ve done it. Take a second waiting job if necessary.
And if you have career experience, a bachelors or higher education, and a decent middle class earning ability, you have no excuse not to travel more.
Family and relationships:
These are both important. Don’t give up on family or friends. However if traveling is your desire, you may have to do it without them. I remember the moment I realized that if forced to choose I’d pick travel over my now ex. Good choice.
It may also mean postponing or opting out of having your own family. I don’t have kids. I don’t want them. Probably ever. Not that you can’t travel with them. But I don’t really see the idea of having them as adding to my happiness, especially as much as unencumbered travel.
Good people who also want to travel and share your values usually aren’t found at home. I have some of the world’s best friends at one of my growing number of world home bases in the fine city of Washington DC. These are lovely, amazing, fun friends. Yet most don’t travel very much. So I’ve learned to make new friends and build new relationships on the fly wherever I am traveling to.
Living withing your means:
This is the hardest thing for most people I know who want to travel more. They simply can’t get into the habit of living withing their means. I think I had an unfair advantage as my parents were very much against debt, we were very poor, and we learned how to do a lot with very little.
Several steps I take to live within my means include:
1). Don’t eat out, when you do realize the law of diminishing returns: more expensive meals are generally lower return per dollar. In other words, if an $8 burger ranks a 7 and a $20 burger ranks a 9 the $8 burger returns almost double the value on the dollar.
2). Drive an economical older car that you can buy with cash. I recommend a 6-12 year old Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai, or similar (I drive a 2004 Acura TL with 160k miles…works great)
3). Use craigslist (with care) and social media to find cheaper living opportunities. I live in a small but completely adequate in-law suit for well below the market average in my area
4). Remember than memories, people, and experiences are almost always more gratifying in both the short term and the long term than possessions are. So spend accordingly.
5). Look at every bill you have and evaluate how you can save without negatively impacting your life. I have long desired to switch from Verizon’s top tier prices to something cheaper. However, consistently over the past 8 years, I have had better service than friends using other providers in the US to the point that I have yet to be convinced to switch. But if it was the only way I could afford to travel….you bet I would switch right now!
6). You don’t need new clothes that often. You don’t need to go to brunch. You can wait for that new movie to hit Netflix.
Thats it for now. Check back soon for more tips and tricks on how I travel so much. Leave a comment below if you have some of your own ideas!!
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World traveling, adventure addict, photographer