I have received a lot of questions about how I can afford to travel so much. Currently I am not being sponsored or supported by anyone, so everything I pay for is out of my own pocket. There are other travel bloggers that make money off of their blog, but I am not quite there yet. However, I am by no means going to let that stop me! How can I afford to travel as often as I do? I make a sufficient amount of money tutoring, and I save. I save a lot. Now that I am done spending money on travel gear that will last a while, I can save even more now. Speaking of travel gear (new tennis shoes, GoPro, backpack, etc.), I will make a video and list of what and how I pack when everything comes in, as I travel carry-on only with a 35L backpack.
I am also very careful with what I spend my money on so that even though I may pay a little more upfront, whatever I am buying will be durable and multi-use. This way it is more of an investment as in the long run it will be much cheaper than constantly having to replace stuff. Anything I do end up buying, whether I am consciously thinking about travel preparation or not, usually ends up being useful in travels or I just don’t buy it. Now that I have everything I need, my bank account will build itself back up again quite quickly. (Except for of course paying for flights, hostels, etc.).
Saving money for travels doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life in the meantime. I don’t go to bars very often, but I will have a drink or three here and there. I don’t go to Disneyland everyday (I also don’t live close to it anymore), but I do go out to food and movies and other fun things with people.
So without further ado, let’s get down to how budgeting money for travel works.
Before the Trip
-Evaluate your funds, and get an idea of a reasonable budget (Stick to it!). Pay attention to baggage fees, and whether or not you plan to buy souvenirs, because you do also need to eat and transport yourself around strange new places as well.
-Pay all bills before leaving because 1) you’ll know how much money you have left to spend, but save extra in case of emergency, and 2) DEADLINES. Paying bills is always a painful and depressing process, but it will give you so much more peace of mind if you just get it all over with before your travels.
-Check with your bank about withdrawal and credit limits. Some banks restrict the amount of times you can withdraw cash or spend per day.
-Alert banks in advance about your travels, or they will lock your account assuming you are a victim of fraud. Even if you are leaving the state I would suggest alerting the bank, just in case. At one of my friend Laura’s bachelorette party, another friend ran into this issue even though we just went to Vegas from California for a weekend.
-Cheap flights-I mainly use Skyscanner to track when the cheapest times to go to places are, and also to book flights. They show you the overall ranking of every flight option based on length, stops, price, and general quality. There are other options but so far with what I have been doing, this has served me best, so I will stick with that for now.
-Hostels-Stay at them rather than hotels. Unless you really prefer the privacy over heaps of money savings, hostels are a great way to save money and make friends you never knew you could.
-Travel Insurance-Get it, especially if you’re going far away from home and/or plan on doing any extreme activities. I am not the biggest fan of insurance in general, but it has its uses. I use worldnomads.com because from what I have seen, they offer the best bang for your buck! You may not need it, but if you do, it is much better and cheaper to be prepared.
-Pay attention to the budget. Things will balance out when buying some cheap things and some expensive things. I always try to get the best bang for my buck and spend as little as possible on things that aren’t as important, that way I have the money to spend on more expensive things if I really want to.
-Now that you have checked with your bank about the limits, pay attention to and follow the credit limit/maximum charge per day.
-Account for taking a day or two for pending charges to clear. You have the money, you spend the money, you can’t pay off the card until the charges go through, you now have to wait to use your card unless you want overdraw fees.
-Account for weekends. If you make a big charge on a Friday, don’t! You will then have to wait until Monday or even Tuesday with time differences to use the card again due to pending charges.
-You must eat. Food is the source of life. It is life. Damnit I am hungry now. Always. I will eat after I finish writing this post so let’s get back to it, shall we? I always like to have at least one relatively fancy meal wherever I go. Depending on where you are, their version of an expensive meal could either be way less or way more than what you would pay for the same type of meal back home. That being said, I like eating local food from street vendors or at markets because it ends up being much cheaper, and often much healthier (and less processed) too! Eating out at restaurants that serve local food also tends to be cheaper than eating at a foreign food restaurant, but if you want food from a different place then just go to the place that food originates. 🙂
-Souvenirs-Ah yes, these. Well, I am not really big on souvenirs, but others may be. I have my memories, my writings, my photographs, my friends, and maybe a couple small things here and there. By small things I mean a bracelet or necklace or something I can wear all the time. I don’t check any luggage. I use a 35L backpack for everything I bring, so space isn’t something I really have. Also, I would much rather spend my money on experience than material goods that, knowing me, I would break and/or lose almost as fast as I bought them. The exception would be a handcrafted necklace or bracelet or two.
-Assess the damage to the budget and plan how to avoid issues or plan better for future travels. There are things you thought would be worth the money, but then you realize ehhh I don’t need to do this again. So don’t.
-Take care of refund requests and double charges, if you didn’t notice them before, but be very nice and considerate in your emails. Everyone makes mistakes, so don’t freak out when you see something was charged twice. Companies are more often than not extremely nice and eager to help resolve issues like this.
-If you are planning on visiting the same place again, evaluate which things are worth spending the money on and what things you may want to skip next time (or find a cheaper way to see them again). For example, tours are a nice and convenient way of being shown around, but they often tend to be more expensive than renting a car and driving yourself. Plus, going on tours limits your ability to spend as much time as you want in a place and limits the places you do get to stop at. On the other hand, there are places that you won’t have access to unless you are with a tour group, so just do your research and plan accordingly.
Let me know if you found this helpful and/or if I left anything out! 🙂
Alyx, love the blog and read it religiously. This one disappointed me, for one reason only – you promised to discuss packing in detail and didn’t. I hope you do in the future. Even though I’ve been traveling all over the world for 50+ years, and always go carry-on, though with a suitcase, not a backpack, I can always use help with it. Any ideas I can glean from you will be greatly appreciated.
Love, Aunt Suzanne
Hi Suzanne, thank you! Yes I am working on making a video for packing as well as a detailed list of what I pack and why I take or leave certain things. I had to order some replacements that ended up being backordered 😦 hopefully everything comes in soon and then I’ll crank out the video! I will do the writing list first and that will be my next post 😦
Oops that was supposed to be a smiley face haha! 🙂