How Do I Afford Traveling?

The number one question I often get asked, or hear gossiped about me is "How do you afford to travel?" This is a question that...


The number one question I often get asked, or hear gossiped about me is "How do you afford to travel?" This is a question that I am sure every frequent traveler gets asked, which some may find offensive (after all, isn't it impolite to ask someone about their finances?), repetitive, or intrusive. I on the other hand, love to share my secret which is not a secret at all. I will not tell you how much I earn or have earned in the past because quite frankly, it is none of your concern or anyone else's (except maybe the Canada tax man). But what I will tell you are my tips for being able to travel, even on a shoestring budget, and let me tell you, most of the traveling I have done has been as a student (and I am still a full time Master's student) on a student shoestring budget. 

Tip #1 - Figure out what you priorities are




Think about what is most important to you. Do you like to buy a coffee each morning at your favourite coffee shop on the way to work, or do you save some money and make your own? Do you feel the need to follow and purchase all of the latest designer trends, or buying items off of the sale rack and from last season is ok too? Do you buy your lunch every day or do you pack your own to work or school? I am by no means a financial expert (despite having worked in the finance industry for 3 years and seeing peoples saving habits), but what I can say is if you really want to travel, add up the amount of money you spend everyday on items that are not a necessity (no, sorry, your Starbucks coffee is not a necessity), and multiply that by 365 to see how much you spend each year. Does it add up to a large amount, an amount which you could spend on a trip? Probably! In my opinion, saving daily can put you on a plane to (almost) anywhere! 


Tip #2 - Stop being lazy

Just because something is convenient doesn't mean it is your cheapest option. Yes we all live busy lives, but instead of buying lunch everyday, why not plan out your lunch meals for the week that you make yourself (none of that microwavable junk), and prepare them while watching one of your favourite shows? You will soon see how much extra money you have in your bank account and that is a damn good feeling! 


Tip #3 - Compare prices

If you don't need to buy something that very second, wait to see if you can find a better deal in a few days, especially for large items, but small items are no exception. This is especially important when booking your flights and accommodations as they fluctuate. And don't wait until the last minute, you will probably end up paying more than you bargained for. 


Tip #4 - Don't put all your eggs in one basket 


(Photo Credit: Ask Camari)
This is a term I have heard financial advisors say time and time again, and they are right. Don't spend all of your money on just one item, and definitely do not spend all of your money on one trip. Find a way to spend your money on a number of things so that you don't end up feeling like something was a waste of money - divide it up evenly or according to importance. 


Tip #5 - Find a bank with the lowest banking fees

The bank account you are using may be the same bank account that your parents set up for you when you had your first paper route, but this might not necessarily be the bank that is the best for you. Find a bank that has the lowest banking fees, or one that offers no fees if you hold a balance of a certain amount. You will be surprised how much you end up paying at the end of the year on banking fees, that could add up to a couple nights stay in a hotel depending on how much you get charged. 


Tip #6 - Never pay full price for anything 


(Photo Credit: Point It)
I rarely pay full price for anything, and when I do, I always feel like I just got scammed (except for necessities, but even then I hunt for sales). I may be cheap, but I have been to 17 countries after all and my travel list continues to grow! Also, consider no name brands for some of your items. You will be surprised how many are of great quality (not all of them, but a lot of them) compared to brand name items. 


Tip #7 - Don't fall for the brand scam

Just because something has a nice fancy brand on it doesn't mean it is the best item that you should purchase. And just because something costs a lot of money that doesn't mean it is actually worth that money. This goes for items you can purchase as well as hotels you stay at. Just because a hotel has a strong brand, be sure you read reviews on TripAdvisor before booking a specific hotel. You may find that your chosen location is actually a dump. Also, be open to trying new places with lower prices. 


Tip #8 - Think outside the box 

So you want to take a trip to California with your friends. How fun! But do you know how expensive California, or any other popular travel destination place, really is? Probably not if you haven't been or haven't read up about it. Just because you know someone who splurged a whole bunch of money on one vacation (no don't ask them how they were able to afford it), look at possibilities of how you can go on a similar trip, on a smarter budget. Do you need to stay in the newest up and coming hotel, that charges more than it is worth? No. Why not look into camping (if the weather is nice), couch surfing, house sitting, or anything of that sort to save money on lodging. Do you have a friend in that area? If so, ask them if you can stay there for a few days and take them out for a nice dinner at the end of the trip as a thank you. Why not book your lodging close to where the locals live, outside of the city center or where there is a grocery store near by? Prices are sure to be cheaper there (not to mention you will get a true taste of the local culture!) Look at alternatives, you and your wallet will both be happy you did. 


Tip #9 - Go during the off season 

Sure summertime is almost everyone's favourite time of year to travel, but it is also the most expensive (and so damn hot!) Unless you are going to a destination where there are beaches you can enjoy only in the summer months, then consider going during the off season. Not only will you save a tonne of money, but you won't have to deal with the crowds and obnoxious screaming children. 


Tip #10 - Don't live a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget 


(Photo Credit: Powers Distributing)
I know sooooooooooooo many people that live like this. They go out with friends and blow all of their money on one night out at the bar, every single weekend, and then when they hear that I am going to a new destination they say "you are so lucky! I wish I had money to travel like you do" Umm...ya you do have money, I just saw you blow $100 in one night !@#$#$!!! Why waste so much on one night out at the bar? I'm not saying don't go out, I'm saying go out and spend less, and save the crazy spending for special occasions. And please don't complain about having no money when you clearly do!


Tip #11 - Sign up for frequent flyer programs

If you are a regular traveler, you are probably a member of at least three frequent flyer programs. If you are new to the game, sign up. It is free and the more you travel, the more points you will collect, and the more chances you have on saving up enough for a plane ticket! 



Tip #12 - Choose your credit cards wisely 

Just like your bank account, find a credit card with the lowest fees and preferably one that gives you some sort of travel rewards (I have a cash rebate card which is even better, but from what I have heard, these are rare to come by). I put everything on my credit card and pay it in full each month. I never leave anything to be paid on it because, once again, I don't want to give any extra money to my bank. They have billions, why give them even more!?!?! By putting everything on my credit card, I collect more and more rewards that get paid out to me at the end of the year that allow me to travel. My debit card or cash can't do that! 


Tip #13 - Learn to be money smart


(Photo Credit: Safety Web)
I know it is not possible for everyone, but it is possible for most, to not live paycheck to paycheck. This is risky business on so many levels that I won't get into right now. Find ways to save some money from each paycheck. You never know when you will need it! If you are spending more than you make, re-evaluate your spending habits. Did you just buy a BMW but have to eat sardines out of a can in order to make payments? Well, time to wake up then! 


Tip #14 - Avoid travel agencies

Although there are many great travel agencies out there, try to avoid having them plan your whole trip. Quite often their prices are a lot higher than if you were to book the same trip on your own. Like I said earlier, shop around and see what is best for you at the lowest cost possible. I have never used a travel agent before in case anyone is wondering. 


Tip #15 - Budget 


(Photo Credit: Home Behind the World Ahead)
I have saved budgeting for last as it seems to be something that people have a hard time doing, but it is actually pretty easy. Open up an excel spreadsheet and track for at least one month how much you spend on items. This will open up your eyes to how much money you spend on things you don't need to. Next, budget how much you need to put away to go on a trip, and stick to it. Google how much some of the main attractions are that you would want to visit, and see if anyone has written about getting in to those attractions for less, better yet, free. By doing so, you will be able to travel anywhere your heart desires. 


To sum up, you can travel if you put your mind to it and learn to become more money conscious. Now I am not saying we can all afford to go on fancy trips around the world, but we sure can find ways to be able to! My motto is that my memories from a vacation to anywhere are worth more to me than anything else money can buy. I have learned from a young age to save, and to never pay any kind of fee, whether that be a banking fee or a booking fee, find ways to avoid paying them! 

I have been lucky with my travels that I was able to stay with friends and family along the way, but I have also been to many places where I knew no one so I hunted for the best deals I could find. One of my favourite trips was camping on the eastern coast of the United States, and the cheapest too! With a little planning and budgeting, you can make your travel dreams a reality too. 

Are you a frequent traveler who has some additional tips? Share them below!



Andrea 





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3 comments

  1. One of my favourite posts so far. Very well put together. Thanks for the advice!

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  2. Yes to No.6! Every time I booked a tour, trip or activity I always call up or email to ask for a discount! Especially worth it if there's a group of you or if you're in the off season! :)

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    Replies
    1. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing :)

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