One of the main questions Marty and I get asked is, “How do you guys afford to travel so much?”
When asked this question, I want to say, “How can you not afford to travel?” I don’t because I realize how snarky that might sound, but travel is truly that important in our lives.
Travel is our passion and our love. It is ingrained in our souls, and honestly, a lot of our decisions revolve around being able to travel!
As you know from our bio, we are not digital nomads, although we hope to be one day. (Insert fingers crossed big heart eyed emoji!) Like a lot of people, we work full time! We have bills and responsibilities just like most other people, but we are committed to making decisions that ensure we are able to afford to travel, and we want to help you do the same!
This post isn’t going to be another list of “eliminate all the fun from your life”. YUCK! Who wants to do that? Instead, these are realistic steps that we took, and you can take also, to help you be able to afford to travel.
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How You Can Afford to Travel
Change Your Perspective
The first step in this commitment is to change your perspective.
You might be shaking your head right now thinking, “come on Michelle, changing my perspective won’t give me the money to travel.” But, Oh contraire mon frare!
I realize that I’m probably a little obsessive, but I analyze almost every spending decision I make. Instead of grabbing $5 donuts on the way to work, I remind myself when I spent $5 on chocolate croissants from that great little bakery in Paris!! (You can read about our trip to Paris in our post, Three Days in Paris)
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have the chocolate croissants in Paris! So, I skip the donuts and put that $5 in savings instead.
Really, this is what I mean by change your perspective.
Your new goal is to afford to travel! Say it with me, “I want to afford to travel!”
When Marty and I bought our house recently, we were again reminded about choices and perspective. We agreed to only spend x dollars on a house even though we were approved for quite a bit more. By staying within the limits we set for ourselves, we ensured that we still had plenty of money per month to afford to travel. It’s all about perspective!
Look at Your Expenses
Your next step is to track your expenses and create a budget. (Ensue load cheers, not grunts and groans!)
I know that creating a budget and tracking your expenses isn’t fun! But come on friend, we changed our perspective, so we are embracing this process!!
Start tracking your expenses today!
There are several options to help you track your expenses. Marty and I are kinda nerdy, and we love spreadsheets, so we created a shared spreadsheet on Google Drive to track our expenses.
If spreadsheets aren’t your thing, there are several apps available. A couple of our personal favorites are: You Need a Budget (YNAB), Mint, and Goodbudget. It doesn’t matter what you choose, just start tracking your expenses, and I mean all of them. Every purchase gets tracked. Yes, even that candy bar!
Once you have tracked your expenses for a month, take a look at the “little things”. You know the things that you bought on the spur of a moment or a quick splurge. Multiply these “little things” by 12. This is how much a year you probably spend on little splurges. Just think, by eliminating some (or all) of these, you would have all that extra money to put toward travel.
Now…drumroll, please! Your favorite task has arrived, time to create a budget! (WooHoo!)
A great resource for learning to budget is Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. Total Money Makeover helped Marty and I get completely out of credit card debt in one year. We worked the plan, and in no time we were seeing the benefits. Get your copy of Total Money Makeover here. Trust me, it’s worth it!
Start a Savings or Travel Fund
Now that you have a good solid budget and a plan for your money, let’s start stashing away what we aren’t spending. Remember, those “little extras” add up, so choose them wisely.
Again, don’t get me wrong, we don’t totally do without. That’s no fun, and a girl has to have some fun in her life! Instead, we just decide if the purchase is really worth it or not.
Put aside what you can EVERY WEEK. It will add up!
Consider having your savings account automated where so your money is taken out of your check before you touch it. You could also set up your debit card to where every time you use it, the purchase is rounded up and the nearest dollar and the difference is placed in savings. There are several options, experiment to find what works for you.
Cut Back Where You
Now that you have a new perspective and a budget, live with it for a few months and see how you are doing. Once you’re comfortable with the process, try to make some cuts in your budget anywhere you can. Remember your perspective, I want to afford to travel!
Lower Your Household Expenses
- Do you really need that cable bill? Getting rid of cable was a huge saving for us. Instead, we use Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
- How often do you use that gym membership? If you’re going 3 or more times per week, then your gym membership is probably something you would like to keep. If not, look for free alternatives. I like to find ways to workout that get me outside. (Well, when it isn’t 100 degrees, I do live in Texas!)
Lower Your Food Expenses
- Can you pack your lunch instead of eating out? Taking out lunches to work easily saves Marty and me $20 per day. Eating out is expensive and not as healthy!
- Have happy hour at someone’s house instead of the bar. This is a huge saver for us. Drinks at bars and restaurants are so expensive. If we are choosing to have drinks, we save money by making them at home. Besides, it’s fun to experiment and pretend we’re bartenders. Trust me, we aren’t!
- Make coffee at home instead of grabbing one from the fancy coffee house. This is super hard for me. I love gourmet coffee! If I had my way, I would hit the local coffee shop every day before work, but at $5 per drink, that adds up fast. I make my coffee at home instead! Cha-ching, money for my travel fund!
Pay Off Your Bills
Of course, paying off bills will put extra money in your pocket, but I know this is often easier said than done. Again, that’s where Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover has helped us.
Pay off your credit cards especially! Friends, the interest alone is probably enough to give you a vacation a year! Don’t give someone else your hard earned money!
Use Travel Hacks
Once you have your credit cards paid off, consider getting a travel rewards card. We have one with no annual fee that we put EVERYTHING on for the month, and then at the end of the month, we pay it off. This has allowed Marty and I get free roundtrip airfare to London, Puerto Vallarta, New York, and San Francisco! Yes, you read that correctly, FREE! One of the many ways we afford to travel!
Now, of course, we still track our spending on the budget sheet I told you about. You should always know where your money is going!
If you are interested in more travel hacks, read our post, 5 Tips for Finding Cheap Airfare where we outline exactly how we find cheap airfare.
Sign up for reward programs through booking sights as well. We love booking our hotels through Hotels.com. Not only do we get a great rate but with every stay, we are working toward free nights. We took a trip to Las Vegas for 4 nights and didn’t spend a penny on hotel expenses thanks to the Hotels.com reward program, and we even stayed on The Strip.
Consider staying with Airbnb. Not only can you get great accommodations, but they are usually at awesome prices as well. Never tried Airbnb? Well, give it a go! Use our link to save $40 off of your first Airbnb booking!! See, here we are, sharing our savings with you! LOL!
Stop Making Excuses
Really, friends! This is real talk now! Just stop making excuses. You can afford to travel!
- Change Your Perspective
- Look at Your Expenses
- Create a Budget and stick to it
- Start a Savings/Travel Fund
- Cut Back Where You Can
- Pay Off Your Bills
- Use Travel Hacks
- Stop Making Excuses
We find the resources for things that are important to us. If travel is truly important to you then stop making excuses, and start taking the steps to afford to travel.
Please comment below and tell us what you do to ensure you get to travel. While you’re here, don’t forget to follow us on social media and subscribe to the blog using the form below. You don’t want to miss a minute of the action, do you???
Be sure and share this with your friends so they can afford to travel also!