How I Afford Travel
When people find out how much I travel, they tend to think I make a ton of money or wonder how one finds the time off of work to do so. You don’t have to have a padded bank account to travel the world! I always live with the mentality that if you want it bad enough, you don't take ‘No’ for an answer. And travel is a huge part of my life. There have been times where I did not have a lot but still managed to find my way across the globe. If you also want travel to be a continuous part of your life, follow some of the tips below to help you attain your goals!
How To Afford Travel
Take Advantage of Holidays. Many companies give off federal holidays. I always take advantage of the three-day weekends. The perk to this is not having to burn through so many vacation days. If you are blessed with a job that gives paid holidays off, you are essentially getting paid to travel!
Use Those Airline Points. I have a credit card that gives airline points for purchases. I use it do to do grocery shopping, pay bills, book hotels, ect. on and pay it off each month. This gives me a steady increase in points per month on top of racking up points for flying with the same airline. Many give you points for solely opening a credit card with them. A great way to benefit from something you were already going to do anyway! There are some awesome blog out there like The Points Guy and Nomadic Matt that break down how to get the biggest gain from these cards.
Become a Member with a Hotel Chain. My husband travels a lot for work. He has been gone every other week this year. Since he is a Marriott Rewards member, we are constantly racking up free nights to use. We have used these points in the past to do whole road trips with all accommodation at no cost to our wallet.
Pack Light. If you can avoid checking a bag altogether, travel with only a carry on. Just make sure to keep in mind of the maximum weight requirements for your chosen airline. If you do need to pack a checked bag, compare the airline fees for a checked bag versus shipping your bag through someone like UPS. You’d be surprise to find that it can be a cheaper route, and hotels will receive a package on your behalf.
Stay with Friends. If you are visiting a city where you know someone, ask to stay with them! If you are not keen on sharing space with others, break your stay up between friends and an Airbnb. This allows you to save money and also getting that down time you desperately need.
Use Mass Transit. Especially when visiting Europe and areas in Asia, take advantage of the well laid out mass transit systems. Getting rid of the cost of a rental car can be a huge savings. Plus, you’ll get to experience the culture from a different perspective.
Pack a Picnic. Hit the local grocery store and grab some fresh produce, cheese, baguette, and a bottle of wine. It can be much cheaper than eating out at restaurants every night. Plus, a picnic in a quiet park can be super romantic.
Eat Like Locals. If you want to stick with restaurants, gravitate to eating when the locals do. Hit up the bars during happy hour for cheaper drinks. Experience local cuisine. There is no better way (in my opinion) to experience local cuisine than grabbing a quick bite from a street food.
Pick Up a SIM Card. Instead of getting charged an arm and a leg on plans through your phone carrier when traveling abroad, pick up a SIM card for your phone after you land. You can find these in airports (although slightly more expensive) or any phone carrier store. If you don’t use this route, you can also take advantage of the free Wifi at your accommodation to stay connected. I have also used an app to show me where the Wifi hotspots are before I travel.
Choose Cheaper Countries. Do some research on where your currency is currently the strongest. If you have a handful of countries you wish to visit, allow this to be one of the deciding factors on where you end up going. A 2k budget in Helsinki, Finland is vastly different than a 2k budget for Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Religiously Check Flight Prices. I am constantly checking flight prices to find the best deals. There are apps like Skyscanner or Skiplagged that you can set up to alert you when a flight to your chosen destination drops. Then pounce on the opportunity for that low airfare. Also, I am very fortunate to live on the border to another country. I make sure to keep up to date on wether the U.S. dollar or Canadian dollar is strongest and either fly out of Buffalo, NY or Toronto, ON depending on which is the better choice. I have literally saved thousands doing this.
Take Advantage of Free Activities. Every city has free activities. Do some research before you go to see what museums are free in the area. Some cities also have '“dollar days” where you only spend a dollar for entry to museums or zoos. You can check out local street art or buildings with cool architecture, or churches that are free to walk through. You can also always grab a book and sit in a local park or beach to soak up some sun. Don’t be afraid to chat with the locals to get insider tips on free things to do!
Travel with Friends. Traveling with others not only gives you the opportunity to have some awesome adventure stories to go home with, but also makes it easier on your bank account. Booking an Airbnb to share with your travel buddies, or sharing a rental car can help immensely on your personal bank account. Plus, it’s always more fun to share in experiences with others!
Budget. And stick to it. Plan as much in advance as you can. The more you plan, the less chance for financial surprises to spring up. If you know there is a specific activity you want to do, meander around the internet to see how much it will cost. Then add it to your overall expenses so you don’t fret about how much it will cost when you get to your destination.
Road Trip It Out. Explore your own country! I live in United States, and the country is vast land wise. There are so many interesting cities, and terrain to experience. I still have many states and major cities to immerse myself in that are only a days drive away. Domestic flights are much cheaper than flying across oceans. Companies like Southwest run specials all the time to destinations in the Americas for cheap. Or you can easily pack camping gear in your own car and save on accommodation while getting in touch with your inner nomad.
Be Mindful of the Season. Look at when the busy season is for your destination. Then avoid it if you can. Most of the time, prices are higher during peak season. Tourists pack the cities. It can make for a hot, crowded, overpriced jungle. With a little research you can find some great deals on accommodation and activities in the shoulder seasons. Sometimes you just don’t want to travel in the off seasons because of hurricane weather or your schedule just doesn’t allow it. If that is the case, use websites like Agoda or Booking.com to find the best deals on accommodation and book well in advance.