“How can you afford to travel like that?” was the first sentence out of my mother’s mouth when I excitedly explained to her my plans for a European backpacking adventure to take place this coming summer. I was deflated, but really, who could blame her? When people explained their marvelous travel plans to me in the past, I’d always put up an enthusiastic facade to further hype them up, but I’d always silently wonder the same thing. What do I have to do to get that kind of disposable income? How can I travel to those places on a budget? How can people even afford to travel in this day and age?
It wasn’t until I was in the midst of planning my own outstanding travel plans that I realized a few glaring characteristics about money and finances that I never truly concluded before. It became obvious when my husband and I were first married that we’re both relatively frugal people, and although I wouldn’t call us penny-pinchers, I would say we’re optimistically cautious. Discussing finances is generally a happy conversation between the two of us, and we’re both prideful when we see our savings rise. We invest in things that will either last us a long time, or feed our souls in a way that will leave us happy and full of wonder. That’s where travel comes in! Here are the little tidbits I realized about money recently, and how you can use these tips to see the world (and afford to travel)!
Your money, your rules.
When push comes to shove, if you’re a legal adult with your own income, you are the only person who decides where to spend it. Nobody has the right to tell you where to spend your money. Every so often, we’ll get comments about this on our YouTube channel, and it’s something I see popping up on other videos constantly. “Why would you buy that when you should be buying this?” When my husband and I were newlyweds and moving into our first home together, we lived on an air mattress for a few weeks before deciding what big purchases we wanted to invest in first, and it might come as a shock to some, but we bought a new TV as our first “big” purchase. We didn’t buy a dining room set, or a couch, or even a bed, but we bought a fancy Samsung Smart TV. And that was a decision we made together and we were completely okay with! To us, the air mattress truly wasn’t that bad, and we were willing to sleep on that longer than we were willing to go without Netflix (that sentence was painfully pathetic to type). We discussed our wants and needs together, and made a mutual decision on the best course of action for us, even in spite of everyone around us telling us otherwise. That’s how we decide to make all of our larger financial decisions. What would benefit us now? What would benefit us later? What would make us happier in the long run? Is it worth it? What is the top priority for us now? Which brings me to my next point…
Make traveling a top priority.
If travel truly is important to you, and you want to get away as soon as you can, you have to make the conscious decision to make it a priority in your life. That means instead of spending $20 for two movie tickets, or a night on the town, or even fast food, that money goes into your travel fund. I have a dedicated travel fund that I try to contribute to as much as I possibly can, which usually ends up being 50-75% of each paycheck. This figure might seem extreme or just blatantly unattainable for some, but that’s completely okay. Although the amount of money you put away in the name of travel is certainly important, I would argue the more important piece of the equation is simply the act of putting money away in the first place, no matter the amount. The important part is getting in the habit of saving for a specific goal. Once you’re in the habit of putting those spare pennies away, it makes your end goal (in this case, travel) seem that much more attainable. This also might help motivate you to do a little spring cleaning, and sell a lot of your possessions you no longer use or want. Remember, every bit counts! It also helps to remember that…
Travel operates on a sliding scale.
When you’re in the middle of planning your next adventure, or when you’re just beginning to save for your travels, it’s immensely important to keep in mind exactly what kind of travel experience you want to have, and just how much that will cost. Travel can be as extravagant or as thrifty as you want it to be. Gone are the days where “travel” strictly means staying in a hotel, eating at restaurants for all meals, and paying exorbitant amounts for daily activities. That’s what I grew up thinking traveling actually was. But now I know that there are cheaper alternatives to hotels to stay in, such as hostels, rooms on airbnb or even couchsurfing for the adventurous type, and generally, if you’re staying somewhere near any kind of civilization, there’s a decent chance there’s a grocery store you can pick up some cheap eats instead of eating at touristy restaurants, and many cities have free walking tours available to visitors, or free or discounted museum days for students or youths. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to travel luxuriously either! No matter what kind of travel experience you want to have, always keep it in mind when you’re beginning to budget your trip.
These are the three main points I’ve come to realize in the past few months after planning my own travels. Do you have any tips for traveling on a budget? How do you afford to travel?
And since this is my first blog post, do you have any requests for future posts? I’d love to know what you’re looking forward to on Eat Breathe Explore, because I want this place to be as much a home for you as I hope it will be for me!