Traveling on a budget helped me afford a trip to Dunns river falls

How to Afford Travel in 2021: The Best Tips on How to Travel More

If you are wondering how in the world people afford to travel often, then you are in the right place. Ever since I started to travel the world a little over 7 years ago, the number one question I get from people is, “How can you afford to travel so much?” – usually followed by “Do you even have a job?!” 

The simple answer to this question is I can afford to travel because it’s my number one passion and I make it a priority. If travelling the globe means enough to you, then you will find a way to make it happen.

Over the years, it bothered me a lot when people asked me these types of questions, as it made me feel like I was doing something wrong with my life. The truth is, I wasn’t doing anything wrong at all. In fact, I was just living life the best way I knew how by living my dreams.

Keep reading this post for some excellent tips on how you can afford travel too.

1. Prioritize Travel

As mentioned above, travel is a priority of mine when it comes to how I spend my time and money. 

We all have things in life that we enjoy and are willing to spend money on. For some,  It could be going out to a nice restaurant every weekend. For others, it could be getting brunch once a week with some friends.. 

I visited Turks and Caicos on a budget a few years ago.

As you know, people spend their money differently. A lot of people don’t realize how the simple choices we make on how we spend money can affect our ability to afford travel.

Personally, I consider myself to be a very simple girl. I do not require a lot in my everyday life to be happy. In fact, I would rather save the majority of my money and travel the world because that’s just how happy travel makes me.

2. Stop Eating Out

Before I began travelling frequently, I would go out every weekend and spend my hard earned money on meals that I could have made at home for myself. 

Brunch was a Saturday thing for me and that $15 drink I could have made myself at home is where my money went.

As you can see, at that stage in life, going out was what mattered the most to me and I was fine spending my money doing that.

After I discovered my passion for travelling the world, I knew I couldn’t sustain both lifestyles. I had to pick and choose what mattered to me the most.

That’s not to say I stopped eating out completely or going out in general. I still go out, but not as often. I cook a lot more at home and try to only eat out for special occasions.

I also stopped hanging out at expensive restaurants with friends. I now enjoy doing free activities with them more.

I will be the first to say yes to grilling out or hanging out at a friend’s pool, however, if you invite me to that bar that has $20 drinks, you can trust that I will not show up unless you pay my tab haha.

I know everyone is different and that doesn’t mean you have to completely change your lifestyle. Pick and choose what matters to you the most.

3. Use Travel Credit Cards

I am so glad I started using travel credit cards early on in my travel journey, as it has helped me save A LOT of money over the years.

My personal favorite is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. This card has been amazing and I have been able to cash in on a couple of free flights using my points.

I use my credit card to buy normal everyday things and earn points that can be used to travel the world for free or at a discounted price.

I afforded to travel to Australia using travel points
Enjoying some beach time in Australia

I know a lot of people complain about the hefty $550 annual fee on the card, but I don’t mind paying it at all as the card benefits pay for itself. I get a $300 annual travel credit – which can be used on anything travel–related. If you subtract $300 from the $550 you are left with a $250 fee.

I also get free access to Priority Pass and have access to airport lounges around the world for free. I will say, this comes in handy when you need a relaxing place to stay while you wait for your flight.

Not only that, most lounges offer free food, drinks and showers. We all know airport food can be expensive so this helps with saving money and chips away at that annual fee.

There are other benefits of this card too, so check the link for a full list!

My second favorite travel card that I highly recommend is the Amex Delta SkyMiles credit card. I mainly use this card whenever I fly Delta, as I get 1 checked bag for free – even on basic economy.

4. Stop Buying Things You Don’t Need

This was a big one for me, as I didn’t realize how much money I was wasting on things I did not actually need. 

I used to love shopping for shoes and dresses a lot. Not sure why, but I always felt the need to buy more – even though I clearly didn’t need extras.

Once I stopped buying these items, I noticed I was able to save up a lot faster and create experiences rather than add to my collection of material possessions.

5. Lower Your Living Expenses

This one helped me save a lot of money over the years. At one point, I moved in with a friend and automatically cut my living expenses in half. 

Not only that, but we moved into another place that was cheaper than the one I was living in before.

Paying rent can be so expensive for people that live alone. You don’t really realize it until you get a roommate and all of a sudden you have loads of extra cash.

I have seen some of my travel buddies move back home with their parents and saved a lot of money while doing it. 

If your parents would allow you to move in with them and not pay rent or pay a lower rate, I would definitely consider moving back home. This obviously isn’t for everyone though.

I know it will not be the same as having your own space, but it will pay off in the long run. You will be thanking me (and hopefully your parents/roommates) when you are in Hawaii enjoying that powder sand between your toes!

6. Hang Out at Your Friend’s House Instead of that Expensive Brunch Spot

I love this tip because it’s one of those things that you really don’t realize how much money you’re blowing until you stop doing it.

I love my friends, but I swear it costs a lot of money to hang out with them. Those expensive restaurants and wine tastings come with a hefty price tag.

As mentioned earlier, I now prefer to do free or cheap activities with them. Things like hiking together and cookouts are my favorite. These activities are loads of fun and also help me put more money towards my travel savings account.

7. Open a Travel Savings Account

Having a travel savings account helped me keep track of how much money I was saving each month – specifically for my travelling expenses.

The first thing I did when I started to save money for my travel was open a savings account specifically for traveling.

I had a goal to save $300 every paycheck. This amount will be different from person to person depending on how much you make and the type of expenses you have.

I always say, set an amount that makes the most sense to you. Every amount saved is better than nothing. 

Having this account helped me with accountability and it sure did encourage me to keep on saving. Visually seeing my money grow every two weeks was what kept me going.

To be honest, this is money I would have easily spent on useless things I did not need. The fact that I had it in a dedicated account stopped me from using it.

8. Travel on a Budget

I like to consider myself a budget traveler compared to most people. Even though my travel style is travelling comfortably on a budget, I still find ways to save and be cheap on a vacation.

For me, budget travel isn’t always about backpacking and staying in hostels or specifically going to the cheapest destination you can find. I like to travel on a budget but still have nice things/amenities while doing it. 

You just have to do your research in advance and be willing to spend a little more if you are not a fan of hostels.

9. Score Cheap Flights

In many cases, the cost to get to your destination is always the biggest expense of your trip. Doing travel hacking will help you save a lot of money.

Before I book accommodations – or anything else for that matter – I always book my flights first. I will be the first to admit that I spent a lot of time watching flights to make sure I could get a good deal. 

I also follow a few travel hacking sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights and always take advantage of good deals. I have been able to go to Paris, Italy and Belgium thanks to notifications from Scott’s Cheap Flights.

Another one of my favorites is Google Flights. I swear I use Google’s explore map at least once a week. If I am bored, I somehow manage to find myself on Google Flights explore page.

This is a great way to get ideas of where you can go depending on which destinations have the cheapest pricing.

I also save my favorite destinations and watch the flights daily or once every few days. I mainly do this for destinations I really want to go to.

Another thing to note is that Google will send you notifications if a price changes. This helps a lot if you can’t check the pricing daily like I do. I mainly do it because I enjoy doing it, but if I didn’t have the time, Google would still cover me.

What airlines do I fly with?

When I first started to travel, I mainly flew with Delta because they were amazing and I never had issues with them.

I always hear horror stories from people that fly low cost airlines – such as Spirit or Frontier – and I promised myself never to fly with them because of what others were saying.

I later found out that I was wrong to think that Spirit and Frontier were not good options to fly with – mainly because of what I read online.

My experience with low cost airlines

I have honestly flown with Spirit and Frontier a few times and never had a terrible experience. 

The worst thing that has happened is being delayed an hour or 4 but I have had worse experiences while traveling. The airlines will try to email you in advance to let you know so you can plan accordingly.

The one thing I will say is to make sure that you understand that you are flying a low cost airline and not to expect a luxury experience.

Make sure to read the fine print and understand what it is you are paying for. The airline will clearly tell you if a checked bag or carry on is included in your ticket pricing. 

Relaxing at Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos
Grace Bay Beach Turks and Caicos

In most situations, a checked bag and carry on are not included. Most low cost airlines only include a personal item. Make sure to check the measurements and ensure that your bag does not exceed the size allowed.

Again, check with the airline directly and don’t just take my word for it. If snacks are not included be, sure to bring some from home. There is nothing like being stuck on a flight with no food and being forced to buy that $15 basic sandwich.

10. Track Your Expenses

I know this might sound a little extreme, but tracking your expenses will help you stay on track with your spending.

I started to keep track of how much money I was spending on my trips to make sure I was staying within budget. It’s so hard to know where your money is going if you do not keep track of it.

I remember the first time I ever did this was on a month-long trip in Mexico and was living my best life. I one day decided to check my credit card and I was amazed to see the bill I had and couldn’t justify how and when I was able to spend all that money.

I quickly went through every line item on my credit card and kept track of it in Microsoft Excel. This helped so much and I am glad I did it, as I now record almost all of my expenses.

I have a budget for everything and if I exceed the budget I stop spending in those areas or just cut back a little. This process also works well if you travel with a partner and need to split the expenses in half. 

Keeping track of your expenses will save you guys arguments in the long run as you have something to look back to if a question ever came up about where your money went.

11. Go Where Your Money Goes Far

If money is a huge factor for you, then I would consider going to cheap destinations. Places like southeast Asia tend to be cheap and your money will go a long way.

I remember staying in a very nice hotel in Thailand for $45 a night 3 years ago. Mind you there were cheaper options, but I wanted to splurge a little so I spent $45 a night.

Another one of my favorites is Mexico. I have been to Mexico at least 8 times and that’s partly because it’s very affordable to go there.

Accommodation is cheap (assuming you stay in vacation rentals such as Airbnb). I have stayed in apartments that cost $45 a night and the living conditions were great.

I mainly chose the option to have the entire home to myself, but if you don’t mind renting a room in someone’s house you can save more money. 

12. Find Free or Cheap Activities

I love vacations that do not require a lot of money for activities. I can assure you that almost every location you go to will have some sort of free or cheap activity to do.

I know a lot of people are into excursions while on vacation and they will spend a lot of their hard-earned money on them.

There is nothing wrong with doing that if you can afford it. Personally, I would rather stick to cheap activities. 

I am an outdoorsy person and love to explore out in nature. I recently went to Hawaii on a budget and spent a lot of time doing outdoor activities such as hiking. I even did the famous road to Hana in Maui on a budget.

That’s also not to say that I don’t indulge in paid excursions; there are times that I splurge. 

There is so much that you can do without breaking the bank. You just have to research in advance and don’t always follow what everyone is doing on Instagram.

For instance, we are going back to the island of Hawaii in a few weeks and I plan on doing a snorkel tour because it’s amazing and I have read so many good reviews about it.

13. Have a Day Job While You Travel

Having a job throughout the years has allowed me to keep travelling the world without having to worry about money as much.

In this day and age, there is so much that you can do for work. Here are some tips on what you can do to earn money online.

  • You already have a work from home job

Since the pandemic, a lot more people are now working from home. If you are one of those lucky people that went fully remote in 2020, this is your opportunity to travel and live anywhere.

I have been blessed to work from home for a while now and that’s how I mainly afford to travel. I have a regular 9-5 like a lot of people and I am so grateful that my job allows me the flexibility to work from home.

I don’t have a lease or a house of my own. I stay with a friend and can be flexible if I need to travel or live somewhere for a while.

  • Teach English online or abroad

A lot of my travel buddies started their travel journeys by teaching english online or in a specific country.

Teaching online will give you the freedom to work anywhere in the world, while teaching overseas will give you the option to work in a specific country.

Regardless of which route you decide to take, both options will allow you the opportunity to experience a new life and culture.

  • Find temporary work

A few of my friends also started their travel journeys by finding temporary work. 

From working at winter ski resorts to amusement parks in the summertime, they figured out a way to make money while on the road.

I once got offered a live-in babysitter role in Hawaii right after I graduated high school, but didn’t go as I was afraid to live so far from home.

Looking back, this would have been a great opportunity.

visiting Disneyland Paris on a budget
Disneyland Paris

FAQs

1. How do people afford full-time travel?

A lot of people find ways to still work while traveling. Whether it’s keeping your day job and working remotely or finding temporary work, there are multiple options on what you can do.

2. How can I travel in my 20s?

If you are young and want to travel but do not have money, I highly recommend budget traveling. If you are okay with backpacking and staying in hostels this is the way to go.

Staying in hostels will also give you the opportunity to easily make friends from all over the world while saving money at the same time.

I have stayed in hostels myself and would do it all over again if money was a huge factor. 

Make sure to save enough money before starting your trip and spend money wisely. Do not be tempted to buy stupid things because that’s what everyone is buying on Instagram.

Be your own person and do not waste money on things that you won’t care about in a few months.

3. How can I travel the world with $10,000?

I recommend going to cheap destinations like southeast Asia. Your money will go far and expenses like accommodation and food are so affordable.

Create a budget for yourself and invest some time in travel hacking to get the best deals on flights and accommodations.

Eat where the locals eat and you will save a lot of money on food expenses.

Start off with staying in hostels to save money on accommodations. You can also look into options such as couch surfing if you are okay with sleeping on someone’s couch for free.

4. How do millennials afford to travel?

I am a millennial myself and I afford to travel because I prioritize travel and save up my money. 

As mentioned in this article, I save most of my money instead of buying things I do not need – such as that designer handbag or eating out a lot.

I also afford to travel by cutting my expenses. I moved back in with my family and that has helped me save so much money towards travel.

I went to Disney land Tokyo on a budget
Disneyland Tokyo

5. How much money should I save to travel the world for a year?

This will depend on where you are going and the type of traveler you are. For instance, if you are planning on a budget vacation to SE Asia your expenses will be less than someone planning to live in Hawaii for a year.

It will also depend on how much money you are willing to spend on accommodations, etc. If you are okay with sleeping in hostels or couch surfing, then your expenses will be less than someone wanting an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica.

My advice to you is research the location you are planning on visiting and figure out the cost of living in that region. This should give you a general idea of how much money to save.

If I had $10,000 in my account, I would definitely not plan a year trip to Hawaii, as Hawaii can be expensive. Instead, I would stick with SE Asia or Mexico.

6. Is there a way to travel for Free?

Traveling for free is possible, but it’s not easy to do.  You will have to look into options like farm work, couch surfing, cleaning and volunteering to get the “free perks”

In my opinion, even though something might be labelled as free, it’s not necessarily free. In most cases, you will have to exchange the free accommodations with your time – whether it is working on a farm or cleaning someone’s home.

You are not necessarily paying rent to live there, but you are paying with your time.

To Wrap it up…

As you can see, affording to travel the world more often is possible if you are smart about it. figure out ways to cut back on some habits you might have that cost you money. Decide what is a priority for you and start saving your money to travel the world. As the saying goes, “where there is a will there is a way!”