travel tips

How do I afford to travel so much?


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!


The basics:

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!!

Happy Travels!

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

Save money by traveling like I do

$40 off your first Airbnb booking!


94 thoughts on “How do I afford to travel so much?”

  1. So much good advice on living below your means. Good for anyone to reconsider a meal out, an Imax movie, or the latest car model. I’m glad to see a link to Airbnb: that is all I use for travelling, especially abroad.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great clothing can be purchased cheaply at places such as Goodwill. Except for hats and underwear (health concerns) and an occasional piece of “bling” (what can I say? I love real rhinestones!), I buy all my basics second-hand.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Couldn’t agree more! I get the feeling that only people who figure this out and who are willing to not spend a lot in common things, get to travel as often. I’ve been a nomad for 1 year now and I see no other way of doing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article! I took the plunge almost 4 months ago. I still have student loans and minor debt but the urge to travel was much greater than that. I plan on traveling and teaching while getting my debt to zero in the next 4 years. Your insights on friends is dead on. My friends enjoyed vacationing. But rarely did. Sometimes you have to move on for you. Good luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I love California as well. If I return to the states it’s either California or Florida (although Florida has its own faults). I’m committed to being in the warm weather. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! True and direct – great points. Thanks for sharing. When you travel a lot you don’t need cable or a huge tv or so much stuff. So many ways to save. I loved reading your perspective.


  6. These are all great tips and you make an important point: if you want money to travel, you have to prioritize.
    My additional tips are to eat a cheap breakfast, eat out for lunch instead of dinner since it’s usually cheaper, and cook when you can. Meals get to be one of the biggest expenses, so it’s where I try to cut corners.


  7. I enjoyed this – I share most of the same values except I don’t think I could ever full time travel I like my home too much. A big trip every year is more my style – mega saving during the year to have a trip of a lifetime instead. Friends and family not agreeing with how I choose to spend my money (missing out on going to events/dinners/trips away etc) but that’s my choice to make. Great post!
    I just started my blog a few days ago so I’m catching up on what’s already out there in the blogesphere!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great tips! I know when I want to spend my money on something frivolous I think about where that money can be put to better use. Would I rather have a new piece of clothes or would I rather eat sushi in Japan? Then I collect that bill in my “Adventures” jar.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This was really interesting advice. I’m currently traveling in Hawaii for a few months and I’m working here to save up money so that I can pick a new place to travel to!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nice tips!

    Travel involves a long term planning for me, I find it really useful to have a reason to save. I usually get the flight even it if it months away, this way I know I have something to look forward and save for.

    Liked by 1 person

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