Travel is not cheap. It can be, but usually you’re sacrificing comfort or convenience. The key to enjoying yourself is budgeting enough money to take with you. A few tips on how I make time and money to travel as often as I do:
From my trip to Reykjavik, Iceland; October 2012
1. Book in advance.
this is a life-saver for me. I book my airfare, hotel, car, museums, sight-seeing, etc in advance, before I leave for my trip. I usually try and do this a month or more in advance. When it comes time to travel, I have a good cash flow because I’m not having to spend my cash on things that can sometimes be the most expensive part of a trip.
2. Research the Airlines.
Many airlines run deals for very limited amounts of time. A few airlines have deals when you sign up for a credit card. I use Spirit Air. I know their airline is not the swankiest, but my gosh, it is the cheapest. I do not have a credit card with airline advantages, so Spirit Air is the next best thing. I went to San Francisco from Dallas for less than $150 on Spirit, while other airlines were going to charge over $300 for a round-trip flight. The key to Spirit Air is booking one way at a time – they usually do deals every week and in my experience one way goes on sale, then the other way goes on sale a couple of weeks later!
My friend Tori & I in San Francisco. I stayed with her, which saved me a good chunk of change!
3. Travel with a buddy!
Traveling with one person or more helps cut costs SO MUCH. I prefer to travel alone, but when I do travel with friends, it helps tremendously on things like car rentals, hotels, etc. Staying with friends is also a money-saver.
4. Use Social Networking.
I have used Couchsurfing, Airbnb, RelayRides & other social networks to help make my travel cheaper, easier and more fun. In Iceland, I stayed with a host who contacted me on Couchsurfing and it was such a fun experience! The locals always know the best places and hidden gems within their city. These social networks are designed to not only be a better and sometimes cheaper option, but you also get to meet people and add to the travel community.
Skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; March 2013 – paid cash during the whole trip because I budgeted it into my expenses the previous month.
5. Budget in your travel as part of your monthly expenses
This is probably the KEY to why I am able to travel. Setting aside time and money for my future travel adventures is part of my monthly income. I don’t have a new car, I don’t go out drinking, I don’t dine out often – and all of these little things help me have more money for travel. Many people tell me how jealous they are that I get to travel so often – but I manage my finances so that I CAN travel. I pay my bills first, then go grocery shopping, and whatever is left is adventure money! I do have a credit card that I use when I’m traveling and before I book another trip I pay that card off. This method has worked for me over the last year and I have no travel debts that last longer than a couple of weeks.
I hope this helps! Anyone have any other tips for budgeting their travel?