A lot of times people ask me how I am able to travel so much and I tell them that I make small sacrifices where I can in order to get what I want.
It’s always been my goal since I was young to travel as much as humanly possible. Growing up on an island, I felt very secluded and isolated from the world. As I watched movies and read books I saw different places that I wanted to travel to and told myself at some point I would make that dream a reality.
I got to travel a lot during my time in the military but it was also in the military that I learned how to budget in order to afford my travel. I was never rich in the military so I needed to budget my money accordingly to be able to afford the things I wanted to do. I set myself a budget of $100 to $200 a month for a travel fund.
You can break that down further and try to save at least $50 a week. It sounds like a lot with rent, cell phone bills, food and other expenses but in reality it is entirely doable.
If you think about it your average Starbucks coffee is about $5, if you multiply that by 5 days a week you’ve already spent $25 on coffee alone. Additionally, eating out can add up as you often spend between $8 to $11 on one meal. By cutting some of these expenses you can save a lot of money right off the bat.
Another option is to follow the 50 / 30 / 20 rule. The 50/30/20 rule is a simple way to budget your money and start a savings account for travel. You spend 50% of your pay (after taxes) on needs, 30% on wants (clothes, dining out, etc), and 20% on savings or paying off debt or in this case a budget for travel. This method helps you visualize what you spend your money on and learn ways to spend it a little more wisely.
In addition to some of these techniques, I would rollover extra money that I had after all my expenses into paying off my debt / savings. by paying more into my debt I would end up having more money to save in the long run. Even if it was $20 before the next pay period it was still progress.
Bring your lunch to work:
One of the things I started doing in order to save money so I can travel, is bringing my own lunch to work. Not only did it help me to eat better but I also saved money that I would have been spending on eating out. If you are able to plan your meals in advance and meal prep, you will be able to bring your meals to work and ultimately save your money on eating out. Also, if Starbucks is your fix like it was for me, learn to make your own coffee. I bought pure protein chocolate shakes from Costco and added espresso to it to make my iced coffee replacements.
Get a credit card with travel benefits:
Next thing I did in order to save money to help me fund my travel is get a credit card that had travel benefits. I got the Capital One venture card.. After spending I believe it was $1,500, you qualified for 50,000 miles. I used this credit card for most of my expenses that were easy to keep track of such as gas and groceries. I would immediately pay these purchases off as soon as I got paid in order to keep my balance low and my credit score high. This allowed me to rack up points that I could use for purchasing plane tickets or discounts on hotels.
Another way that I budgeted for travel is by staying in. By not going out a lot and not spending a lot of money, I was able to pocket more money for my travel fund. Just like with Starbucks, the average cocktail can range from $8 to $10 on an average night out you could easily spend $60 – $80 on drinks and other activities. Sometimes taking a night in to watch Netflix can ultimately help you towards your goal of traveling.
I kept myself motivated to save money by reminding myself of what I ultimately wanted. I used Pinterest to plan my trips and to give me a visual representation of what I was saving my money towards. This planning process made it more inspiring for me to save money because I was seeing all the things that I wanted to do and it reminded me that I needed to save money where I could. I constantly reminded myself that while I would like to buy a new dress, I would like traveling to Europe a lot more.
Look for cheap flights:
I spent a lot of time researching flights in order to find the best deal. When looking for flights you have to consider: when is the best time to travel, what city is cheapest to fly to, do you want to take a train or bus, and also which cities have long layovers.
When I was looking for flights I would often check which city which is cheapest for me to fly into. On our first trip to Europe, my mother, sister-in-law and I chose to fly into Lisbon because it was cheaper than Madrid or Barcelona. this is ultimately the decision because Lisbon is an awesome city and I’m so happy that we went there. we also chose a slower time of year outside of the tourist season in order to travel.
When booking flights I also look into whether it is cheaper to take a train to specific City or if it’s cheaper to fly. For example, when I flew to Venice it was cheaper for me to take a train to Rome rather than flying. Trains in Europe are very advanced and well-maintained compared to America and often have food carts or sleeper trains.
Additionally, consider flights with long layovers. Which certain airlines like Turkish or icelandair they include long layovers in their City so you can enjoy your time there. Sometimes it is cheaper to book a flight with a long layover and you also have the benefit as being able to explore the city with longer layovers.
It may be hard in the age of instant gratification to be diligent and hold yourself accountable to a budget, but it is possible. Small changes can ultimately lead to greater things such as a vacation or a small girls trip. If you are able to save money where you can and budget accordingly, traveling is possible. Sometimes it’s worth telling yourself that you could be enjoying a latte in France or a cocktail in Italy if you skip going through the drive-thru or buying another pair of shoes.