How to Travel on a Budget

How to Afford Travel

Many people ask how we afford to travel, so here are our not-so-secret secrets! 

When we first got married, a wise family friend advised us to “spend your money on experiences rather than things.” We took this advice to heart and must say it has been the best guidance we’ve ever received.

Traveling is a priority for us. In addition to the lifelong memories we have created together, I have learned more about language, literature, math, science, history, and economics than I have in 25+ years as a full-time student. And when we have children, traveling will continue to be a priority.
So how do we do it?

1. Sean researches, plans, and books everything himself. Why pay a travel agent when there are so many fantastic sites that provide us with complete control over our own trip? Yes, this takes a lot of time, but is totally worth it. Sean usually works on our travel stuff while I am reading and writing for my doctoral studies, so it is time well spent for both of us. (No we don’t have time-consuming children, but our pugs are pretty damn needy!)

2. Sean books things incrementally, at least six months in advance. We put everything on American Express, which provides insurance and forces us to pay off the costs each month. He books our flights first and we make huge sacrifices that month to account for the hit (I’ll discuss these sacrifices in a moment). He books our hotels the following month, our transportation (rental cars, trains, etc.) the next month, and so on and so forth. Breaking up the overall cost is instrumental in pulling off these elaborate trips.

3. We make small sacrifices throughout the year. Many a times we are tempted to purchase a new gadget, new clothes, or go out to lunch with coworkers. But we stop and evaluate the overall benefit. While $10 in American money seems insignificant, it can buy a 5 course meal in a fancy restaurant in many other countries. So we choose the iPhone 5 over the 6, the shirt from Target over the one from Macy’s, and eat our packed lunches instead of lunching out. We cut our grocery bills and limit eating out during the months we book large items (such as overseas flights). Additionally, we NEVER buy gifts or cards for each other. Instead, we verbally share our sentiments for one another and save the money for experiences we can enjoy together. It’s all about choices and cutting a little here and there really makes a difference.

4. We make large sacrifices as well. We downsized to one car (a hybrid nonetheless, long live the Prius!) and Sean takes public transportation to work. {Let me brag about this man for a minute. While most loathe and complain about the bus, Sean knows it’s all about perspective. Each time he gets on the bus, he pretends as though he’s on one of our foreign adventures, sits back, and enjoys the journey. He is truly something special.} We sold our house to avoid the constant upkeep and maintenance costs (and while we moved into a “luxury” apartment, it pays off in the long run…and the amenities are 100% worth it!).

5. We don’t do touristy things, stay in super fancy places, or eat at expensive restaurants when we travel. Instead, we immerse ourselves in the local culture, stay in boutique hotels or Airbnb rentals, eat where the locals eat, and guide our own tours. Seriously, our worst nightmare is being stuck on a tour bus with a bunch of people, bound to their schedule. Instead, Sean does his research, downloads self-guided audio tours, prepares travel guides based on our interests, and contacts people through TripAdvisor to get insider perspectives.

6. Sean is a top reviewer on TripAdvisor, he’s actually in the top 1%, with close to 40,000 travelers reading his reviews. We can’t recommend a better site to use when planning a trip. He also loves (provides the best hotel pictures), (shows the most flight options), and TripIt (the best app to keep your trip organized). Oh and if you book through Ebates, you get cash back, how cool is that?!

Need advice or help, reach out! 



Ashly LocklinComment