“How do you travel so much?” It’s a question that seems to be popping up a lot lately. (Probably because I’ve been traveling more and more). My family and co-workers have always asked me this, but lately people on Facebook and blog readers have been asking me this more and more. So here it is, the big answer:
I make traveling a priority!
That is genuinely the answer. I believe that people on any budget, or circumstances- if it’s a genuine priority and you’re willing to work for it- can travel the world! I did a couple of Wanderlust Wednesday posts a while ago about ‘Saving Money to Travel‘ and ‘Saving Money While Traveling‘. So, this post is a bit of combing those, and adding the new things I’ve learned in the past 2 years.
I think that the photo above is the simple way to put it. If you’re someone who likes a lot of ‘things’ it’s hard to save money for that and save money for adventures! Not that I never buy anything, because I do, but it’s something that I really think about before I make a purchase, especially big ones. Here are my personal tips, old and *new*, for ways to save money to travel.
How to Save Money To Travel:
- Don’t spend money on things you don’t need. This is something that was hard for me at first. I used to be absolutely obsessed with clothes. I’ll say say it, I was incredibly materialistic. Then, as I traveled more and more, I realized that I could easily save up enough for a road trip by not buying that top or dress or pair of jeans that I didn’t need. Plain and simple.
- When you do buy things, use coupons. I’m not saying you have to be an extreme couponer or anything, but before you buy something, simply google a coupon or coupon code because a lot of times, there’s one out there.
- Save cans and recycle them for money. I know, this isn’t necessarily something that earns you big bucks or anything- it’s another thing that I used to turn my nose up at- but then I realized, even if I only get somewhere between $9-30, it’s money that pays for a tank of gas, a drink or a meal on the road from trash! Plus, it helps the environment!
- Pick up change. Every single time I see change on the ground, even if it’s only a penny, I pick it up and I put it in my travel jar. Again, it’s not much, but every year I literally pick $25-30 off the ground. Free money.
- When extra money comes your way, put it away. Every single time I get extra money- a bonus at work, birthday cash, tax refund, anything extra- I put it in my travel jar because that is the thing that I want to do more than anything else.
- Take a hobby and turn it into cash. I, personally, dabble a bit in photography, crochet and make jewelry. Not only do I make a lot of gifts for people, but I sell the things I make and take photos for my friends and family! It’s fun and helps fund my true passion!
- Ride a bike or walk. When gas is the price it is, it’s easy to spend a lot on gas when you drive in town. I ride my bike or walk as often as I can! Plus, not only does it save you money, but it’s FUN and good for you too!
- Find entertainment in free or cheaper things. I love to go to the park with friends, go on picnics, hikes, anything outside and it’s so cheap, and most of the time, free! One thing I used to love doing was going to the movies, but holy cow it’s about $10 per person to go to a movie these days! So, I now go to the discount movie theatre a few months after the movie comes out, or we have movie nights, rent it and all your friends can come over, bring snacks and it ends up being SO MUCH MORE FUN than sitting in the movie theatre!
- Find a way to really visualize your savings. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep yourself motivated when you’re not seeing the fruits of your labors, so I think finding a way to visualize it is really important. For instance, set a goal and mark off every dollar you save that gets you closer to your goal. My visualization is putting my travel fund in a jar until it’s full! I think it gets me motivated when I see I’m close to the top to put more and more in there.
- *When you use a coupon or learn to do something yourself, pay yourself for it.* This is something new I’ve started doing. When I find a coupon, like $5 off an oil change, I put that $5 in my travel fund. The way I see it, was I saved myself that money, so why not give it to my travel fund as a gift to myself.
- *Ask for gift cards that you can use on your trips for your birthday or Christmas.* This last Christmas I asked for gift cards to gas stations, fast food places for a quick meal on occasion and grocery stores! It was a really great decision and not having to spend the almost $200 dollars I got in gift cards made me able to spend money on other aspects of the trip that I might not have done before.
- *When you get paid, after you pay your bills, set aside 10%, 15%, or however much you want just for traveling!* When I had more bills, I set aside only 10%, but you would be amazing how much that even adds up. Now, I have less bills and I’m setting 20% each paycheck aside, and it’s adding up even faster! Just save what you can!
How to Save Money While Traveling
- Camp or sleep in your car. Camping is typically an incredibly affordable form of accommodation (and in some cases free!). If there isn’t anywhere to camp or you just get incredibly tired while driving pull over in a safe location and sleep in your car! I’ve been known to park in a Walmart parking lot and sleep.
- *Couchsurf.* Couchsurfing is such an amazing tool that I wish I had learned to use a long time ago. Not only does it make a trip more affordable, but I genuinely believe that it enhances the value of your trip. There are so many tips that I got from hosts on where to eat, what to see and what popular sites aren’t actually worth the time or money. It’s such a wonderful community!
- Travel places where you have friends or family. This is a great way to get to know a new area (or an old favorite) while seeing someone you love, and still getting local advice, while not having to pay for accommodation!
- Use coupons while you’re on the road too. Be sure to stop at those visitor centers to get coupons for lodging, entertainment and more. Plus, before you go, google all of the big things you know you want to do to find coupons!
- Pack a cooler and snacks to take with you. Convenient stores jack prices up like none other! Instead of grabbing things as you go spending double digits on a couple of snacks and a drink, pack up a cooler and save all kinds of money! When I take a road trip I always have at least one meal a day (more often 2) from things I’ve packed (or bought along the way) from a grocery store.
- Use airline miles. If you fly, why not take advantage of airline miles. Even if you only save a little off a flight, it’s still saving money!
- Visit State and National Parks. These are affordable stops that I always think incredibly enhance my trips! I love being able to see these beautiful locations along the way! There are so many tiny parks that make you stop and say, WOW, and often they’re free or under $10.
- Ask for discounts. I’m sure to flash a student ID, a AAA card, my National Park Pass or anything else I think will get me a discount or free admission as often as possible! The worst thing that can happen is they so, right?
- *Souvenirs… Do you really need that?* When I first started traveling I bought things from EVERYWHERE for everyone! I would blow all kinds of money on stuff! I still buy a few little things here and there, but I’ve learned that my own photos are better than postcards and my loved ones don’t need that other thing laying around their house. Just get those things that are important to you.
- *Only order what you’ll eat.* When eating out only order what you’ll realistically eat. If you’re not super hungry don’t order a huge meal or split a meal with your traveling companion!
This was a long version of answering the question- how do you travel so much? Do you have money-saving tips? If you have any other questions for me please email or comment. I would love to answer them!
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