How I Afford to Travel and How You Can Too!
I get asked all the time how I afford to travel as much as I do. It is a combination of doing things to keep the costs down but most importantly I make travel my top priority and my lifestyle is built around travel. Here are the top reasons I can travel as much as I do and how you can follow suit.
Make Travel a Top Priority
This is the most important piece of advice I can give you and how we afford to travel. If you make it a priority you are much more likely to do the things required to make it happen. I put a part of every paycheck into a travel fund, this money never goes into my normal bank account so it is not missed and does not ever get spent.
We also live far below my means, Chris and I live in a small 1 bedroom apartment, we don’t spend money on new cars, fancy toys, or expensive electronics (unless the are travel related). We buy used large ticket items whenever possible and always look out for deals. This means we don’t have car payments or mortgage payments so can we can put all that extra money into savings aka our travel fund. Really, it is a lifestyle choice. I choose to spend money on experiences over stuff.
When I was looking for a new job one of my non-negotiable was at minimum 3 weeks vacation plus a few personal days. Again this is a lifestyle choice. When travel I want to be gone for at minimum 10 days at a time. If planned correctly with weekends and holidays my 3 weeks vacation and 3 personal days allows me generally 3, 10-day trips each year.
Do Things to Save money on Travel Expenses
I have written an entire post on this here. There is a large array of things you can do to make your travels a little cheaper and stretch your hard earned dollars. Saving money on the things you need to buy can really go a long way in getting you on more trips. Be sure to take advantage of loyalty programs and awesome cash back programs like Ebates. Over time these programs can really help with saving money on things like hotels and flights.
Credit Card Hacking
I am still relatively new to the world of credit card hacking but it can seriously jump start any travel plans. Free flights and hotels which are generally the most pricey parts of any trip can easily be paid for in points. Keep an eye out for credit card incentives that give you enough points for a domestic flight, or free nights in a hotel. New credit cards tend to offer the biggest incentives. Nomadic Mat has a great post on credit card hacking I recommend you check out here.
Travel in the Shoulder & Off Seasons
This is probably the You will instantly save money by avoiding places in their peak seasons, hotels, excursions, and even flights can all be at reduced rates. You will very rarely see me traveling to a destination in the high season. The high season is when most people want to visit the desired location. Think summer in Europe and Jan/Feb for ski trips. I like to travel in the shoulder season because the weather is generally still good and things are slower. The weather is generally good in offseason, I avoid the mass amounts of tourists and spend less of my hard earned money.
Travel to Cheap Destinations
I try as much as possible to take trips that are not overly expensive. We will usually take 1 trip every 2 years that we will splurge on. But most of the time we try to keep costs to a minimum by choosing locations with cheaper costs of living than Canada. Some great examples of this types of places are South & Central America, Eastern Europe, most of Asia, and Africa. Do your research because these places can get expensive depending on how you travel.
These are some of the ways I afford to travel, do you have any other tips? Is travel a priority for you? Let me know in the comments below.