“Ugh I wanna travel but I don’t have any money!”
Well, ya whiny bitches, let me tell you some cold hard facts. If you’ve got a source of income and the slightest bit of self-control, you can also travel often.
You’re going to have to make a few sacrifices, but a wise person once said:
Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.
To which a wise ass responded, “but what about stocks and bonds?”
Yeah, on a technicality, those also do, but I can bet that you’re not sacrificing your $5 coffees to put it towards an investment account either.
Without a doubt, the biggest thing holding people back from traveling their entire lives is their financial situation. And I get it, not everyone has the money to book a flight and spend a month in their dream destination. As a frequent traveler, the biggest question I get asked is how I can afford to travel so often.
I know some wealthy people who just have the money to travel often and frequently, but by a large margin, the most common traveler I meet are the ones who were willing to make sacrifices to save money. It’s easy for us to just imagine that only rich people travel because it distracts us from the fact that we have no self-control or fiscal responsibility, but that’s just not true.
Every dollar you avoid spending is practically the same as every dollar you earn. As a full-time student for most of last year, I did not have much time to work and made like no money. Despite this, I was able to travel for almost six months because of how I managed my money both at home and abroad.
Here’s ten things you can sacrifice literally starting right now. Don’t think of any of these as an all-or-nothing deal. The hardest part of giving something up is usually the idea that I would never have it again. That mentality is why a lot of people fail. For example, I recently went (mostly) vegetarian, but rather than make it an all-or-nothing deal, I chose to allow myself to have meat if I wanted. That mentality has made it a choice rather than a restriction. That kind of mentality has helped monumentally, and it can definitely help you with cutting out any of the following ten things.
Although you might not notice it right away, money spent on eating out gradually adds up to quite a bit. Limit going out to eat at restaurants to only social events at first. You will save a significant amount of money. In college, I’d eat out with friends several times a week or even several times a day just for social purposes. For most months, my spending on restaurants was more than my monthly grocery spending. Limit eating out to only special occasions. Find free things to do with your friends. Pack a lunch for work or school. I once spent $600 on sushi and burritos at my student center in one semester. I still hate myself for it.
9. Shopping Sprees
As I piled up dozens of unworn impulse purchases to take to Goodwill or Plato’s Closet, I became close to ripping my hair out in frustration. I had hundreds of dollars worth of clothes that seemed like a good idea at the time. Once I stopped spending every other weekend at the mall, I found that my money was not mysteriously disappearing anymore. When I’m traveling, I literally only bring five or six outfits so those thousands of dollars worth of clothes piling up in my closet weighs even more heavily on me.
8. Your Car (for the most part)
I got a bike for my road trip last summer and began to wonder why I hadn’t been using one my entire time in college. Although I’ve graduated now, I still use my bike to get around for any trip under ten miles. It’s relaxing, healthy, and free! I could have easily saved $30 a week in gas if I chose to just bike to my classes rather than drive one mile to a parking garage and then 10 more miles just to try and find parking.
I’m not saying sell your car or to stop using it altogether. Again, none of these should be taken with an all-or-nothing mentality. Biking or walking to class or work once a week can really add up over the course of a year.
7. Alcohol (also for the most part)
Whoa, “The Partying Traveler” telling you to give up alcohol? What a fraud, right?
Let me just say this, I would pick a night out in Rio or Barcelona over a night out at a local bar ten times out of ten. I’m not saying abstain completely from having fun and going out, but you don’t need to be casually drinking beer while watching television every single day.
P.S. $3 wine is not that bad once you get used to it.
6. Starbucks (I’m sorry)
I’ve long since cut out Starbucks or any other coffee shop out of my budget. I used to love spending $15 at my college’s coffee shops for a cup of tea and like three spinach leaves with an almond until I realized that I was just stupid. Like I said earlier, a dollar saved is a dollar earned, and when you can get a steak dinner for $5 in Colombia, you’ll be happy you skipped out on that $5 frappe.
This is a tough one, for sure. I chose to become mostly vegetarian mostly for environmental reasons, but found that it ended up saving me a significant amount of money. Meat tends to be more expensive than other food, so dedicating myself to cutting it out has shaved a lot off my grocery bill. It hurts not being able to eat steak, but I know all of my savings go straight to my travel fund. When traveling, I allow myself to gorge on anything I want, meat and all (for you know, the culture).
4. If possible, minimize rent
In 2016, I spent half the year paying rent for my house in my college town and half the year traveling. In terms of living expenses, you’d be surprised to find out that living in Columbia, Missouri cost me more than rampaging my way through South America. If you’re traveling long-term, paying rent is just a useless expense, especially when you can probably use all of that money to pay for your hostels and hotels.
I understand this can be difficult, but maybe hit up your parents’ basement if you decide to take a gap year or just a break from life. Maybe rent your room out while you’re gone, but do whatever it takes to make sure you’re not doubling up on living expenses while you travel.
3. Bars and Nightclubs
Last weekend, I spent about $150 on a night out. I spent the next morning alternating between hating myself for being hungover and hating myself for spending that much money. $150 can go a long way while traveling, and when you’re dancing on tables in Rio, you’ll regret every time you’ve spent any of your money at any other bar.
This can mean a lot of different things. Maybe you can sell your mansion and live in a closet so you can travel more. Maybe you can get rid of that stupid child that’s bogging you down. Who knows. It’s up to your interpretation.
Just kidding. Don’t sell your mansion. Take care of your kid. With convenience, I mean opening your mind and exploring other options. For example, it would be easier for me to fly out of the Kansas City or St. Louis airport, but taking a six hour bus ride to Chicago would save me an average of $400 per international flight. Maybe I really wanted to leave on a Saturday morning, but a flight on Monday morning would be $200 cheaper.
Last year, I took over 15 international flights and none of them cost me more than $500. By being flexible and willing to go a little out of the way, I was able to save a lot of money that I could therefore use for more fun things once I’m actually at my destination.
Get used to roughin’ it, baby.
Very similar to convenience, comfort kind of covers a wide variety of things you can do. For me, sacrificing comfort was staying in hostels or sleeping in hammocks in the woods. I’m not a particularly stingy person, but the less you spend on where you sleep, the more you can spend on champagne bottles at the club. No one expects you to be sleeping on the top bunk of a shared twenty person dormitory when you’ve got bottle service.
I’ve had a room to myself in a cushy four-star hotel in Munich and also shared a 100 person tent in Munich. The tent cost me $100 less per night, and was by far more memorable and more lively. When you look back to the adventures you took years ago, you won’t remember the hotels you stayed in. I’ve slept in hammocks, sailboats, soggy tents and my car countless of times, and let me tell you, you won’t remember the uncomfortable sleeps, but your bank account will remember the $100 you spent on a hotel.
I hope this helped. Just kidding. I know it helped as long as you can find the willpower to stick to your goals. Thanks for reading, and make sure you’re following me on Instagram (ThePartyingTraveler) to keep up with my adventures! I promise I’m not boring.
Check out my latest travel video below.