I get asked often about how I manage to travel for a month at the time. It’s sometimes hard to explain it to someone who puts travel at the bottom of their to-do list but there are little things that anyone can do to make travel possible.
Of course, time is the biggest challenge but once you manage to find the time, how can you afford it? It might sound silly but it’s the little things that make a difference. The things that are not painful but when done every day are very efficient. Here are some of the things that I do to save money. While not very exciting, they have allowed us to travel and enjoy our time away.
Not drinking or smoking ~ I very rarely drink and it’s hard for me to imagine spending $8 for a bottle of wine a couple times a week. Saving that $20/week amounts to almost $1000 for the year which buys you a plane ticket to just about anywhere in the world. I don’t know how much a pack of cigarettes costs these days but I know it must be over $5 per pack. If you smoke a pack a day… well, you do the math.
Having my coffee at home ~ Yes, it’s great to go to the local coffee shop as they have the best coffee and atmosphere in town but saving the $3 or $4 every day makes a huge difference. I do buy my coffee in bulk there and that makes it that much better at home because I know that I am supporting the local economy.
Making saving for travel automatic ~ Yes, I have a designated account for travel and I deposit money in it every month. And it’s done automatically so that I can’t find something else that I need to do with the money, because there is always something else that needs fixing or requires your money. Always. I transfer $150 every month and while it’s not a huge amount, it adds up.
Using a credit card to collect miles ~ I travel often to California and I fly Southwest all the time. I have a credit card that I use for everything in order to collect miles on Southwest. I don’t carry a balance and that makes this a good strategy. Last year alone I was able to use miles for 5 free plane tickets to California. It makes travel possible.
I almost never use the dryer ~ Ok, so I grew up without a dryer but we have enough clothes so that we don’t have to rush with the laundry. Nothing has to dry in 30 minutes! And of course, just knowing that the dryer is there and available rocks!
Cooking at home ~ I personally enjoy cooking and having a tight grocery budget keeps me on my toes. Spending $40 to go out for a mediocre dinner it’s just not right. Yes, it’s convenient and oh so easy after a long day but dinner doesn’t have to take a long time to prepare and planning just a little bit ahead makes a huge difference.
Buying used ~ Ah, one of my favorite challenges is buying used. I will shop at a thrift store before a regular store any day. I love the variety and the unexpected great item just waiting for you to repurpose it or give it a new life.
Sacrifices of luxuries ~ Depending on what strikes your fancy, thinking twice about spending money on a want versus a need is a great approach. Going to the movies is a want but buying stuff at the concession stand while there is a luxury. That extra 20 bucks of popcorn goes a long way on getting you to your next destination!
I’m sure there are other ways of saving money for your travels. Having some flexibility and traveling during the week are classic examples of making a trip more affordable. You don’t have to deny yourself the things that you enjoy just so that you can travel but making little sacrifices on a consistent basis will make travel possible for anyone.