[updated Aug 2023]
When people find out that I traveled the world full-time for about 2 and a half years, the question is always the same:
How did you pay for it?!”
It’s a reasonable thing to ask. When I was working full time as a television producer and daydreaming about a life of travel (all. the. time), I also wondered how I could afford to make it a reality. I can assure you that it’s not as impossible as it might initially seem. I’ve actually answered the question of how to afford travel many times on this blog, so, I decided to bring together all of my tips for making travel affordable into one Ultimate Budget Travel Tips List!
Before You Travel
1. Find Out How Much Travel Actually Costs
Traveling isn’t nearly as expensive as many people believe. When I was on the road, my expenses were actually lower than when I lived in Chicago. Read these posts for details:
- Money, Cash, Dinero…How could you afford to travel around the world?
- The Reality of Long Term Travel: Checking in With My Readers (specifically the section on expenses)
2. Live Frugally & Save Money
Unless you’re planning to work while you travel (which is possible!) you’re going to need to save some money. For me, saving money is all about reducing consumption and prioritizing spending. Those are pretty vague guidelines, which is why I’ve explained them further in a number of posts over the years.
- Travel Tips: Saving Money for Travel
- How to Save Money & Live Simpler by Reducing Consumption
- Two Part Series: How to Live Simpler, Cheaper, and Happier! Part 2: Saving Money to Make Money
- How I Can Afford to Live Now and Still Travel
- Buy or Simplify – Cutting Down the Clutter
- How to be a good airbnb host (make money TO travel!)
- THE Ultimate Guide to Financial Independence
When Booking Travel
3. Play the Frequent Flier Mile Game
I don’t have a ton of experience playing this game, but I do know a little and have a rewards card I wholeheartedly recommend. And I can point you in the direction of one of my friends — a frequent flier mile expert who won’t bog you down with a bunch of miles mumbo jumbo.
- Travel Tips: Credit Cards — What’s in Your Wallet?
- Video Interview: Mile Nerd – The No Nonsense Frequent Flier Mile Expert
4. Shop Around For a Cheap Flight
I have two posts where I share my preferred websites for booking flights, plus tips to make your time soaring through the air in a metal tube more enjoyable.
While You’re Traveling
5. Save Money on Accommodation
After transportation (planes, trains, buses, etc.), accommodation is one of the biggest travel expenses. Luckily, there are plenty of inexpensive alternatives to booking a hotel — hostels, couchsurfing, and housesitting to name a few options.
6. Find a Job on the Road
I worked a number of different jobs while I traveled and, in addition to helping offset the cost of my trip, these jobs provided me with enriching, local experiences and friendships.
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