Upon hearing that I was traveling to Nicaragua only two months after returning from Asia, my friend Lisa asked me, “How do you afford to travel internationally so often?”
Her timing couldn’t have been better due to the fact that I was about to launch this blog!
So, now I have a platform to express my thoughts and answer these questions on a much more far-reaching stage rather than just an email or meeting for a coffee with one person at a time.
Since I have labeled my brand “The Budget-Minded Traveler,” I can’t think of a better question to kick start the posts for this blog. In a nutshell, here’s my answer to the question about how to budget money for international travel.
Two Big Things Needed to Save Money For Travel
My response to Lisa had to do with two things:
- keeping bills to a minimum and
- keeping my priorities straight
The average American is not very good at keeping bills to a minimum.
I Googled it and found that as of July 2012, the average student loan debt is $23,000 and that the average American owes approximately $47,000 (DailyFinance.com).
As you can probably imagine, I do not fall into the debt category, which is the most important factor in being able to travel abroad so often.
Stay Out of Debt
To stay out of debt, I basically put myself through college, choosing the only university I could afford, rather than the ones I wanted to go to (I loved my college experience, by the way).
This was an easy decision for me, I simply didn’t possess the money to pay for any other college, and I knew I didn’t want loans. I applied for scholarships all throughout my college years which is what got me through.
In the end, I graduated without ever taking out a loan. That means I graduated completely debt-free.
I also own a ’94 Toyota Pickup (it’s still my dream car) which I own outright and do not have any payments on.
New cars are overrated.
So is credit in a lot of cases. If you can’t afford to pay your credit card bill in full every month, you should not be adding to your balance. Period.
We advocate for the responsible use of credit cards to help save money. See these posts for more information:
- How to Choose the Best Travel Credit Card
- Best Reward Credit Cards
- How to Avoid Fees with Credit Cards Overseas
Prioritize Saving Your Money
Over the years, I have worked and saved while I was in between travels, always planning my next escape abroad. Travel is such a high priority in my life that it’s really easy for me to live on a budget because I know what my money is being saved for.
There are so many things that go into living on a budget. I try to save money with every little decision I make. For example, I usually just get water rather than purchase a drink with the meal when I go out to eat, and instead of buying coffee every day, I prefer to make mine at home.
This is a very low-cost example, but every $3 I save here and there adds up to a lot in one year.
There are two things I hate more than anything, wasting time and wasting money. I’m not averse to taking the extra time it takes to save a buck, whether it be shopping around or only buying things on sale, or waiting for that coupon to come out.
I also love Craigslist and cheap finds at garage sales. And as long as I am generating some sort of income, my bills are being paid and my savings account is steadily growing.
More posts about ways to live on a budget:
BMT Products to Help You Save Money + Travel More
Obviously, this rather narrow answer to such a broad question is only the tip of the iceberg. The rest can be found in these various products I’ve created to help you even further!
The Aspiring Traveler’s Handbook
The Aspiring Traveler’s Handbook: A preparation guide to international travel
My book covers the countless things that come to mind related to how I can afford to travel internationally so frequently.
- finding the best deal on flights and hotels/hostels
- knowing my budget abroad and sticking to it
- temporarily freezing accounts at home that don’t need to be paid while I’m abroad
- working abroad to pay my way
- choosing the right credit card that gives me the best possible rewards
JUMP explores travel, adventure, and lifestyle in ways meant to motivate YOU to get out and see the world. Through a mix of guest stories, solo episodes, and often raw and personal accounts from me, listening to this podcast WILL get you moving!
The Budget-Minded Traveler Community
Join thousands of fellow travelers in our private Facebook community for daily travel discussions.
It’s private, password-protected (you must sign up for our email list to get the password), and monitored to keep it clean, helpful, and – most importantly – fun!
It’s a well-established group, so you can ask for answers to your most pressing travel questions or search the threads. Community members are based and have traveled all around the world, so someone will have answers for you!
Join the Budget-Minded Traveler Community today!
I realize that this question was asked of a frequent traveler.
I know when most people save up for travels, it means they may go somewhere once every year or two, and maybe just for a couple of weeks.
I like to be gone a lot more than that, so I have to work harder at saving and living on a budget, but I do it, and it works.
There is a system out there to be taken advantage of, and that’s what I do. The bottom line is that I am constantly aware of living within my means and I keep travel as a high priority in my life. When those two things come together, I am able to take trip after trip after trip…
And you can, too!
I would love to hear from you about this: what are your top priorities and how do you make room in your budget for them?