So, if you know me at all, or have been following me for a while, you know that TRAVEL is one of my greatest passions. I have been to 11 countries (about to add 2 more in a month!!!) and traveled all over the US as well. One of my greatest joys is seeing all the beauty + culture that exists all over the world. I talk more about the importance of travel in this post if you want to read more.
But I wanted to write this post specifically to give you tips on how anyone can travel on any budget. 9 out of 10 people will say yes they would love to travel to the Alps, or a beautiful island, or see the Eiffel Tower with their own eyes. Or even see some of the wonders of our own country: the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, New York City. But some of those same people I bet would also say they’ll probably never get to go, or they’ll plan it “eventually” when they can “afford it”. This post is for changing your perspective. This post is not for people who genuinely struggle to meet their daily financial needs. There of course are priorities. But to the average person: you probably actually COULD afford a trip if you made it a priority, saved, and cut out expenses in other areas.
Think about it. We spend money where we put our priorities. What that looks like for each person is a little different. It might be shopping for clothes, or going out to eat a lot, or that daily Starbucks pit stop. Obviously we have to spend money on our cars, and homes/apartments, kids etc. I’m talking about where we spend extra money.
If you make travel a priority instead of a wish, then you can make it a reality.
However, this may come with some discipline and sacrifice, so you have to be willing to make it a priority. If it is truly a goal for you to take that dream trip, you CAN make it happen. I am going to share with you my tips and how my husband I make travel a priority and therefore are able to make it fit into our budget. A little background: we are just your average young married 20-somethings, with a dog, a mortgage and student loan debt. It’s possible, people. And it’s worth it. When I was jumping off cliffs into crystal clear water in Santorini or watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night, I was NOT wishing that we’d gone out to eat more often at home and I definitely wasn’t thinking about all the Starbucks lattes I’d missed out on. Keep reading below for my 8 tips to help make your travel dreams a reality!
1. Pay down what debt you can
Ryan and I both have *relatively* new cars. Mine is a 2014 and his is a 2016. They are both PAID OFF. That’s right. We worked our butts off to pay off our cars so that we no longer had those payments coming out of our budget every single month. I realize paying off a new car within a couple years is not the norm and a little ambitious but the point is, pay off what you CAN so that every month moving forward that money goes in your pocket. Like I said above, we still have student loan debt and our mortgage, but no longer having car payments helped us save for travel. Also please be smart, and pay off your credit card debt if you have it. That stuff is not fun. We do use credit cards for our travels for the cash back rewards and the convenience BUT only because we know we have saved enough for the trip to pay it off right away. Please do not pay for your whole trip on a credit card, if you know you can’t afford to pay it off. That is not what I am recommending here!!!
2. Eat Out/Go Out Less
This is what works for US. We don’t go out to eat often, and we certainly don’t go out to the bars every single weekend. We love to be social and go out with friends, but we limit it to when we truly want to go, or there’s a fun occasion going on etc. We eat 90% of our meals at home, and we like to compensate not going out with having friends over for drinks instead! Trust me a night out at the bars can easily run you over $100. Say you go out four weekends over the course of 1-2 months and guess what. That’s $400 that could’ve bought you a roundtrip ticket to Europe. YES, there are tickets that cheap (more on that later.)
3. Have a budget in mind for your trip
Once you have your destination in mind, do some research. Look up flights and hotels to get an idea of what it might cost. Take those numbers and figure out what is realistic for your budget and make a plan. Once you know how much you’d be comfortable spending, then you can start saving with that amount as a goal. Calculate how many Starbucks lattes it would take, or how many times you could bring your lunch to work instead of going out. Those small choices really add up.
4. Three Words: Scott’s Cheap FLights
Ok this tip is huge!! Some friends of ours who also traveled to Europe last year filled us in on our buddy Scott. It is a site that searches flight deals daily and emails you the deals. You choose what destinations you want flights searched from. There is a free version and a subscription version, which send you many more flights than the free one. We have the subscription right now and I get flight deals daily that are usually $500 roundtrip or less!!! To all over the world! I also recommend Google flights for just general searching, as it allows you to view a calendar with the prices on each day so you can choose your dates when the flight is cheapest! Flights are generally lowest on Tuesday afternoons. That is when I found and booked our roundtrip Europe flight last year. It was $580 a person roundtrip from Cincinnati to London. In my opinion (because I’ve searched a LOT of flights) you should never book a flight to Europe that’s over $700-800 max. There are soooo many deals out there, you just have to be willing to put in the work to search and wait.
5. be ok with not not having the newest version of EVERYTHING
This might sound like an odd one, but hear me out. I am the type of person who would sell all my belongings to be able to travel the world. Of course like the next person, I like nice things, and clothes and makeup and shoes etc etc etc. BUT we limit ourselves, because we know at the end of the day, those things don’t last and we’d rather our money be spent on life-changing trips that will create memories forever. Some examples: We have a super old, hideous maroon sectional sofa in our tv room. I want a pretty, brand -new couch sooo badly. But guess what…sectionals are like $1,000 and right now in our life, I’d much rather that be spent on travel. Our couch is comfy and we don’t need a new one right now. Also, my hubby and I always are at least 1-2 versions behind on the iPhone. We loving having iPhones, but we don’t need the newest most expensive one. I’ll use it as long as it still works, ya know?! So think about what around your house you don’t really need to update RIGHT NOW or if you really need the newest gadget or phone if yours works just fine.
6. AirBNB or if you’re willing, hostels!
If you can afford a 5 star hotel on your travels, then I don’t know why you’re reading this post. SO let’s be real. The flights and accommodations are the largest expenses of your trip. You can literally save HUNDREDS by staying in an AirBNB rental or a hostel rather than a hotel. We did stay in all hotels on our Europe trip, but we had a strict budget of how much we were willing to spend per night + only searched hotels within those prices. They were still super nice! We didn’t need them to be fancy. Newsflash, you are not in your room very much anyways. You are out exploring a city all day or laying on the beach. You don’t travel across the world to sit in your fancy hotel room. SO be willing to go a little cheaper with your accommodations. AirBNB has fantastic rentals where you can rent an entire apartment or home for sometimes less than $75 a night!!! We are staying in an AirBNB in New Zealand! And also Europe and Australia/New Zealand have some very nice clean + safe hostels that are a fraction of the price of hotels. My biggest tip is just to make sure your accommodations have AC (not always a guarantee like in the US) and that it’s in a good location. Location is sooo important. Make sure it’s a safe area AND that it’s in walking distance if a lot of the things you want to see! This will save you money and time of having to take transportation all over. But if you do have to take transportation, Uber is all over the world so see if it is in your location!
8. Create visual Motivation
Who else is obsessed with Pinterest?! I’m assuming 99% of you soooo…make a board for your dream trip. Not just a travel board with all your dream destinations. Pick the one place or few that you have specifically chosen for this trip that you want to make a priority. Pin where to eat, what to see, pin beautiful images that make your heart flutter when you see them because you want to be there so badly. And every time you want to spend money on something that you really could do without, pull up that vision board and let it serve as a reminder of why it’s worth it. Keep your motivation to save going by constantly reminding yourself of your goal!!! I will say, once you actually save enough to book your flight, then it becomes a lot easier to save because you know your trip is real. So make it a goal to book that flight!!!!
I truly hope these tips are helpful. They may not relate to everyone, but all of these are what have worked for us + allowed us to be able to travel to places I’ve always dreamed of. So if traveling is a goal of yours in 2018 (or 2019 if you need time to save!) then take a look at what you spend your money on and where you could be putting that money toward travel instead. Stop wishing, and start doing. Make your goals a priority, so they can become a reality. I can’t wait to see where the world takes you!
Where is your top travel destination?! Let me know in the comments below!