Many people dream of escaping their daily redundancy and experiencing someplace new. Unfortunately for many, travel stays a dream as they believe it is unaffordable, unattainable and out of reach. But if you so desire an escape, life changing experiences and the valuable lessons travel teaches, then a little adjustment, effort and determination is all it takes to make travel a reality. With a world of information at our fingertips “how to travel on a budget” is just a few clicks away. The increased popularity of “travel hacking” bred loads of online content aimed at helping anyone travel on just about any budget. Combining these travel hacks with a little saving and lifestyle adjustment you can be well on your way to an exciting world of travel, a week at a destination you’ve dreamed of or the ability to take your family on that special trip. Whether you are worried about bills, don’t think you make enough money or have little time off, keep reading for a few helpful steps towards a life well traveled.
Reduce Unnecessary Spending
The most common excuse against traveling is that it’s expensive. How can one expect to travel when they can barely pay the bills? Chances are you have developed a few monthly, weekly or even daily habits that are costing you a few extra dollars. Dollars that could go towards gas for that road trip you’ve been dreaming of.
While it may seem small at first, cutting out regular unnecessary spending can add up. Just ask yourself, do I need a Starbucks veinte triple caramel pumpkin mocha frappe latte every Friday? Or would that $6 be better spent on travel? “But Travelbetic, its just $6 a week.” Save that $6 a week for 3 months and you have enough for bus fare from Lima, Peru to Machu Picchu.
With so little time for lunch, many 9-5ers are victim to the convenience of eating out. $10-$15 a day adds up quick! By packing a lunch you can save $50 a week, in 2 months you would have enough for a round trip ticket from Houston to Costa Rica. For my fellow type 1 diabetics, packing a lunch is always a good idea anyway. It’s good to know exactly what you will eat throughout the day, makes BG management much easier.
Do you pay people to do things for you that you could do yourself? Mow your own grass, paint your own nails, do your own taxes. Is a new car really necessary, or will a used one get you to work just the same? Do you need brand new designer clothes? Try thrift shopping! Take a moment to think about all of your expenses and decide which ones you can do without. It’s not about giving things up it’s about trading them for something more valuable. We so easily lose site of our goals and dreams and fall victim to instant gratification, convenience and frivolous spending. I am terribly guilty of this, but I can tell you from experience, a sack lunch is well worth a month in Costa Rica.
Find Supplementary Income
This one is pretty obvious. Everyone wants to make more money. But travel can be a powerful motivator, especially once the wanderlust sets in after a life changing trip.
The goal here is to find part time revenue streams that can be easily dropped and picked back up. You don’t necessarily want to get another traditional job that only allows so much time off and takes away from your travels. Freedom is key. If you have the luxury of extra time give the sharing economy a try or put your sales skills to work. Here are some great, easy ways to make extra cash for travel.
- Buy/Sell on Craigslist or 5 Miles App
- Drive for Uber or Lyft
- Deliver for Favor, Mr. Delivery or one of the million other delivery apps
- Rent a room on AirBnB
- Offer just about anything you are good at as a service on Fiverr, UpWork or Freelancer
The ultimate supplementary income for traveling is a job or business that can be operated remotely. Something that only requires a laptop and wi-fi connection.
- E Commerce Site
- Remote jobs (Digital marketing, SEO, coding, web development, graphic design, freelance writing, consulting, etc.)
Check out this greatguide on how to become a digital nomad
Plan a Trip & Start a Travel Fund
Try this, instead of creating a budget then deciding where you can afford to go, choose a destination then figure out how much money you need and how to get it.
What are your travel goals? How much time do you have off? Once you have a good idea of where you want to go and for how long, start tossing pennies in that piggy bank. Setting goals makes saving much easier.
When deciding where to go consider roads less traveled, they are usually cheaper and offer a much more authentic experience. You may not be able to afford a week in Paris or London but experiencing a small town off the beaten path can be even more exciting.
Research where your currency is strong and be willing to travel in off season to save big on flights and accommodations. Save on a rental car and use taxis and buses. Choose hostels over hotels or find deals on Air BnB. Try couchsurfing.com or volunteering in exchange for a room. Many hostels will let you crash in exchange for anything from handy work and room cleaning to bartending or marketing help. Workaway is a great source for volunteering opportunities, the small fee is well worth the value.
Be willing to travel last minute to take advantage of flash deals on budget airfare sites such as theflightdeal.com, farecompare.com or holidaypirates.com. Sign up for email alerts to be notified when a fare drops and follow travel sites on social media for exclusive offers.
Or Just Travel for “Almost” Free… Travel Hacking!
Making extra money in your free time and cutting expenses to save for travel is great, but for those buried in bills or without the luxury of free time, extra money can be hard to come by and might be better spent elsewhere. But fear not, with a little effort and determination there are ways to travel for damn near free, a tactic travel jedis like to call travel hacking.
Travel hacking is the practice of collecting frequent flyer miles and rewards points to get free or reduced travel in sometimes non-traditional ways. Points can be used to redeem flights, hotels, rental cars, tours and even upgrades. Travel hacking is not a new practice, tons of people use these tricks to travel cheap and some of the crazy deals of years past are now gone, victim to the oversharing of the information age. With that being said there are still plenty of ways to amass piles of points and score great deals.
Some of the most lucrative deals to be had involve signing up for rewards credit cards. But first things first, before you start applying for cards you must have a good credit score and the discipline to pay off your cards in full each month. You can check your credit score on creditkarma.com or credit.com for free. A good score is around 720 and up.
Many rewards cards will throw you a big sign up bonus after meeting a minimum spend and then offer miles per dollar spent and sometimes category bonuses. By putting all of your everyday spend on a card the points will quickly build up but you will negate the benefits if you don’t pay off the card in full each month. Most travel rewards credit cards come with high interest rates so you don’t want to carry a balance on these cards. Points and miles are great but nothing will stifle your travels like a mound of credit card debt.
Travel hacking involves much more than just rewards credit cards. There are so many ways to earn points and miles that don’t actually involve flying or staying in hotels. This hobby can be very involved and require some time and effort but the payoffs are so worth it for most people. I don’t want to go into all the gritty details as I am not an expert on the subject. Here are a few of my favorite travel hacking bloggers that can shed more light on the practice and help you get started.
Combine some savvy saving, side hustling and utilizing your travel rewards credit cards responsibly and you can open up a wonderful world of travel.
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