One of most asked questions is “how do I afford to travel or how to afford to travel?” I want to say that with travel there is an inherit amount of privilege that comes with that. While I believe travel is something everyone can do I understand it’s not always the same level of entry. With that lets jump into the top 10 ways you can afford to travel.
I am a firm believer that you can do anything BUT you can’t do everything at once. When you decide travel is a non-negotiable for you something in your budget has to be moved to allow for your new expense. I recommend sitting down and really looking at your finances and make a must, would be nice, and nonnegotiable list.
What this looks like is would your weekly brunch be something you have to do or something you can give up? Do you need Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max and Disney+ or can you eliminate one? This isn’t about depriving yourself but really drilling down on what you need. If you can’t afford travel now and aren’t willing to get rid of any your monthly expenses travel may not be as big a priority as you think. When I first started saving up for travel, I stopped going out on Friday nights, and believe it I missed hanging out with my friends BUT by 30 I have been to over 30 countries. For me missing that random club night was worth all my other experiences.
Travel is a seasonal business if you want to visit the Amalfi Coast but are on a tight budget traveling in what we call the “shoulder season” is your best way to do it. Shoulder season is the time before or after the busiest tourist time. Going to Europe in November vs December is considered a shoulder season BUT you get all the same experiences. You will have that Christmas season and colder weather without the same amount of tourist or cost.
When you are trying to save up to travel traveling during this time will make all the difference. Your budget will go farther, and you will avoid the crazy crowds that come with the busy season. Trust me I’ve travelled to the same destination in the shoulder season and the busy season and I always prefer shoulder. Not only for the cost saver but the time saver of not having as many people around.
This one goes with the above when you are booking flights being flexible can make thousands of dollars in a difference. If you can fly out on Wednesday at 2:00am vs an ideal Friday morning you could save thousands on those long international flights. Same with domestic trips, be flexible with those dates.
I spent fall in Europe and decided to search by cheapest month. I left end of August three days before I wanted to and my flight was $1200 cheaper. Trust me it makes a difference!
Now let me throw a quick disclaimer out there – do not and I repeat DO NOT get a new travel credit card if you are not in a position to pay it off monthly. Now if you can get a new travel credit card AND commit to paying off monthly this is an amazing way to save up for travel. You can rack up points on every day purchases. This will build up to free flights, upgrades or hotel stays.
Read More: Travel Credit Cards
When you start traveling pick a favorite airline and hotel chain and stick with it! Mine are Marriott and American Airline. I have a credit card for both and use them for my day to day purchases. I am not only building loyalty through my credit card but by always staying or flying with these brands. This will allow you so many perks and occasionally things like free flights or hotel nights. Loyalty pays so make sure you try to stick with one.
Now if over time you want to change it up you can. I have done that before and am now a big Delta fan. Be aware it will take time to rebuild that loyalty up so don’t switch too often.
Now this may sound so antiquated but stay with me here. Travel agents are sometimes privy to better deals, upcoming sales, and “freebies” and they ARE FREE! I have been using the same travel agent for all my cruises. She finds me the best deals, handles all the research and always gives me perks. It’s a free resource that cost me nothing to use, don’t sleep on Travel Agents!
One of the best ways to travel is if you can work remote. If you have the privilege of remote work you can go to a destination for much longer. This will typically allow you to get better deals by having a longer stay. Plus you have money incoming while you are traveling. Now I know its not easy to do believe me it took me YEARS to land consistent remote work.
Start small – freelance, become a VA or even work abroad if you can. If those don’t work see if you can take your position remote within your company or transfer departments. From personal experience I spent 12 years in an onsite position. I then petitioned to transfer to a new department that was remote. It took some time but now I am 100% remote! I can work from anywhere making travel so much more affordable.
Side hustles are a great way to get out and travel quicker. When I first started traveling I picked up freelance writing, photography and working with brands. Some deals were free stays for blog post or Instagram promotion. It took time but you can do it! Start local with staycations and write blog post on those experiences. Take great photos and definitely learn video that is the wave of the future. You will then have a portfolio to start showing off and start pitching yourself.
You will get more no’s than yes’s but that first yes will be life changing. My first partnership was a three free night stay for a blog post and a few Instagram post. It became my first five star hotel that was completely free. I will caution you free stays are great BUT if you want to make it your full time gig free nights won’t pay the bills. I only recommend this when you are getting started and building your portfolio. This is also great just want to travel without trying to make it your full time income. Freelance writing will be a better long term option. They will pay up front and you can build up a great monthly income from this if you are consistent.
When you are traveling on a budget you will have to pick and choose where most of your dollars go. Are you a person who needs an amazing accommodation, or has to eat out every meal and eat well? Pick what is most important to you and compromise on the other areas.
For me a nice accommodation is number one for me. I will go to local grocery stores and only eat out a few nice meals to afford a better hotel. Some people wouldn’t agree and will stay in a hostel to afford other activities or meals. It varies per person so really sit down and pick what’s most important to YOU.
If you are putting money into a savings account every month, make sure you are getting max interest back. I use Ally and they have amazing high savings of 1.75% compared to most banks that are at .01%. Make your money work for you! They also have savings buckets where you can setup certain goals and allocate your money accordingly.
I hope these tips help get you out and traveling soon!