While some people think that travel is a luxury, my husband and I really do not view it that way. Traveling to us means exploring, and while yes some aspects of exploring can be quite luxurious, they aren't always, and certainly don't have to be. What traveling really is about when it comes down to it is prioritizes, and at this point in our lives with good health, and little tying us down (aka kids/dogs/etc.) traveling is our top priority when it comes to how we spend our money.
At this point in our lives we know what is the most important to us, and making sure that we experience as many cultures and are able to make our mark on the world as best we can is by far one of the most important. It trumps owning a home right now, having a fancy wardrobe/car, and going out to dinner/drinks multiple times a week. This is what I mean by prioritizes, there is no right or wrong answer to how this list should look, but unless you truly do have endless amounts of disposable income, if you are going to travel the world, it has to be at the top of your priority list. Luckily, for my husband and this is something we 100% agree on, and I honestly believe that it is one of the greatest aspects that drew us to each other.
BUT CAN EVERYONE REALLY AFFORD TO TRAVEL?
I really do believe that anyone, on any budget can travel, and explore this world, because traveling in my mind isn't about vacationing it's about exploring and you can get exploring in your very own environment in ways you haven't before, without spending any money. Or if you are someone with some disposable income, you can make some tough choices and sacrifices to travel abroad. Either way, if you are an explorer at heart trust me when I say that traveling is possible, you just need to learn some of the basics for budget traveling, and get really good at figuring out what in your life is worth and not worth spending your money on.
Because the first question I always get asked when people discover how much we travel is: how can you afford it? I figured we probably should just start there. Now, trust me we do not have endless amounts of disposable income, trust funds, or parents who fund our lives, we are very much 100% financially independent, and with our own share of student loans, rent, etc. that need paying. But like I said earlier, really I think that no matter what your income is, being able to afford traveling almost always comes down to redefining your priorities and getting really good at traveling light, and finding deals.
EXAMPLE: OUR $1200 IRELAND ADVENTURE
Let me give you an example, a few years ago I booked a five-day long weekend trip to Ireland, for both my husband and I for $1200 TOTAL. This is how we did it:
- Found a flight deal: I belong to and watch a ton of travel deal/cheap flight newsletters such as TravelZoo, which is where I found this flight that took us round trip to Ireland from Boston for $600.
- We went in the off season: Traveling in the off-season is by far the cheapest way to travel. Accommodations and flights are always less expensive, and most of the time the off-season is underrated and less touristy, so in my mind if you are looking to take a budget trip, going in the off-season is a no brainer.
- Pack Food: We brought a ton of snacks that we ate throughout our trip and for lunches everyday. We also stayed in bed and breakfasts where breakfast was included so the only meals we bought were dinner each night. Again we would rather bring our own snacks and skimp on our food budget to make a trip work financially.
- Stay In Local B&Bs, or AirBnBs: I absolutely adore B&Bs and AirBnB, we have traveled all over the world staying in these kinds of accommodations and most of the time they end up allowing you to experience a much more authentic cultural experience than if you had stayed at a big hotel. In the off season in Ireland our B&B rentals only totaled to $150
- Rent a Car: Rather than spending money on transportation we decided to rent a car, which cost us $200 and allowed us to see much more of the Ireland countryside. While this didn't necessarily save us money, it did save us time, and please remember while traveling that time really is money. You don't want to spend an entire trip in transportation limbo-land wasting your time and the money you spent to get to your destination.
- Eating Out: Knowing that this was a more budget conscious quick trip we really made sure to watch how much we spent on food and drinks. By the end of the end of the trip we had spent only $250 on food total.
When it comes down to it, there really is no right or wrong way to travel, it really is all about personal preference. However, if you are on a budget, and feel overwhelmed with the idea of traveling, I want you to know that it really is possible, you just have to commit to making exploring the world a priority and compromise in other areas.
Since this was meant to be only a beginners taste to budget friendly traveling I am going to stop here, but there will be many more upcoming posts about more of my tricks for finding and securing travel deals that have allowed us to travel the world.
Happy travels everyone!