One of the most common questions I get asked about my travels is: “How do you afford to travel?” My response is always the same. I MAKE BUDGET CONSCIOUS CHOICES. From an outside perspective, traveling can look very glamorous. Those picture perfect moments that pop up on social media feeds cause many to wonder how they could possibly afford to do something like that. I wish I could give you a magic answer. Unfortunately, I don’t have one. In the end, it comes down to hard work and the choices you make.
I work extremely hard and make choices that aren’t always the most glamorous to be able to travel as much as I do. Over the years, I have learned to transform into a money-saving machine in order to save for my travels. I have learned to sacrifice things for experiences, and it’s not always easy. While some of my friends are buying new cars and putting in offers on homes, I am driving the same car I’ve had since high school and restraining myself from shopping sprees. While I do sacrifice things for experiences, I feel it is all worth it for those moments, on my travels, that take my breath away and open my eyes to new cultures and ways of life. For me, those moments are worth every single sacrifice I make.
Here is how I do it….
1. Set a goal of where and when you would like to travel.
I’ve found that a goal-oriented mindset makes it much easier to save money and maintain excitement about traveling. Make sure to include written details such as the date of your travels and the exact amount of money you want to save. Display this where you can easily see it and be reminded of your goal.
2. Create a budget.
One of the best ways I have found on how to save money to travel is to create a budget. Write down and categorize all of your monthly spending and consider how much you make each month and where your money is going. For example: bills, rent, food, entertainment, shopping, and extra services. After doing this, you can see where you can cut expenses and divert that money toward a travel fund.
3. Learn to paint your own nails.
A trip to the nail salon is one of my favorite ways to pamper myself. Picking out that new color, catching up on Hollywood gossip magazines, and feeling glammed up always sounds enticing. I just don’t do it all the time anymore. Only on really special occasions will I indulge in a trip to the nail salon. A manicure can cost up to $35 and a pedicure can cost up to $45. That can total up to $75 +tip for each trip to the nail salon.
Try: Put on your favorite TV show, grab your favorite color, and do your own nails. Trust me, practice makes perfect. The more you do your own nails the better you will become. Also try making a date night with a friend and paint each other’s nails.
4. Get your hair done every 6 months rather than every 6 weeks.
Just like the expenses of going to the nail salon, going to the hair salon can really add up. Especially when getting blonde highlights like I used to do. I would have to go every 6 weeks to touch up my roots. Each trip to the hair salon would cost me close to $200…yikes!
Try: Go au naturel or ombre if you can’t completely get rid of that blonde. I can now go up to 6 months at a time without having to get my hair done.
5. Go out on the town less.
I no longer make going out to bars my go-to entertainment. Each overpriced drink you buy can cost up to $10. A couple of drinks and you’re at a $50 tab! I decided to try to limit going out for drinks to no more than once a week.
Try: Find your local happy hour spots and take advantage of the reduction in drink prices. If you’re not feeling a night out, have a night in at your house and tell everyone to bring wine or ingredients for cocktails.
6. Find creative ways to save money when eating out.
Going out to restaurants can fill your belly but can also break the bank.
Try: Look on sites like Groupon for local restaurant deals. You can also split meals with a friend, which will cut the bill in half. Also try planning a picnic with friends and have everyone bring a dish to watch the sunset.
7. Cook at home.
Swap eating out for cooking at home.
Try: Find exciting recipes online and head to your local farmers market or grocery store and cook at home. I try to cook one big meal at least twice a week. Then, I use the leftovers to create new and exciting meals.
8. Cut down on the shopping sprees.
One of my favorite hobbies used to be shopping. I would go on shopping sprees with a friend and end up spending $200-$400 on new clothes. New clothing items can be exciting to have but they don’t always have to be brand new or full price items.
Try: Shop at a consignment stores or online consignment sites like Tradesy where you can buy and sell designer bags, clothes and shoes. Name brand items can be up to half off. Also try borrowing clothes from a friend, it will feel like you are getting a whole new outfit! Try buying during the off seasons. I try to buy my bathing suits in the fall or winter and my snow clothes in the spring or summer, when items go on sale.
9. Use different methods of transportation.
I am constantly given a hard time for driving the same car I have had since high school. Her name is Betty the Black Beauty and I love her. Even though she isn’t brand new (and yes she still has a cassette and CD system), owning a new car comes with a hefty monthly bill that I just can’t justify when Betty gets me from A-B.
Try: If you are really trying to save a big chunk of money and are in the market for a new set of wheels, buy a used car. Did you know that when you drive a brand new car off the lot, that car’s worth drops by $1000 immediately. Also try taking public transportation or riding a bike. This saves you money on a monthly car payment, yearly registration, gas and insurance.
10. Cut down on your home entertainment expenses.
Turning off my cable was one of the best decisions I made while looking to cut back on expenses and save money for travel. Cable TV can cost up to $80 a month!
Try: If you absolutely can’t give up your favorite TV shows, sign up for Netflix and try splitting the account and monthly cost with a friend.
11. Cancel your gym membership and get outside!
If you absolutely have to have a gym membership be sure to critically compare prices. Do you really need to be spending $150 when you can be spending $60 or less at another gym?
Try: Pick a new trailhead to hike, ride your bike, or head to the park to do your workout. There is something about being outside and working out that seems to double the endorphins for me. If you find it difficult to exercise outdoors or you prefer a group atmosphere, try sites like Groupon that offer monthly classes at discounted prices.
12. Skip Starbucks.
Grabbing a coffee every day may not seem like a big expense, but if you add it up a $5 coffee everyday, it equals $35 dollars a week. Although I am absolutely guilty of splurging on coffee once in a while, I normally brew my own coffee at home.
Try: Add cinnamon or different coffee flavors to change-up the taste and to get you excited about sipping that morning cup o’ joe. Also try purchasing a new coffee cup on your next trip. It will remind you of great travel memories and encourage you to brew at home!
13. Find free events and activities.
It often seems like you have to spend money to have a good time, but with a little research you can find events and activities that are both local and free.
Try: Google “free things to do in your city.” You may be pleasantly surprised at the amount of free activities you can experience in your city. You can also try joining a team sport with co-workers or friends.
Saving money doesn’t have to be hard, it just takes some creativity. Sometimes all it takes is a little change to the way you spend your time and money to get yourself to that beach in Thailand, on that Safari in South Africa, or snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Over to you! What are some of the best ways you have found to save money? Tell me in the comments below. I would love to hear your suggestions.