How I pay for my travels



Friends and acquaintances frequently ask for my secret with regards to my travels. More specifically, how can I afford it? I, although thankful for and humbled by the places, cultures and people I have experienced over the years, wish I could travel more. The truth is there are no secrets to traveling and doing it often. Anyone who wants to travel can do it. Here is how I ‘do’ it.

  1. I live simply. My car is over 10 years old and I bought it cash. I decided a long time ago to never finance a car. If I cannot afford it in cash, then I cannot afford paying a car note plus interest. This is money I could be saving for my next trip/adventure. As a matter of fact, I pay for everything in cash. I do not own one single credit card, it is the biggest banking scam!  I live off of less than 53% of my income. Additionally, I save and invest about 22% of my income toward my retirement and wealth building, put 6% of my income towards my son’s college fund and give away an additional 2% towards causes that are dear to me. Could I afford to spend more of my discretionary income? Yes! But why? Living minimally has allowed me to travel more and I value that more than any new pair of shoes.

  2. I travel off season. We all know the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. But in the travel industry, there are only three seasons that matter: peak, shoulder and off and I care about them! Why do I travel off season? One word: Cheaper. Off season is the time of year when a destination sees the least amount of tourist, therefore prices on everything from airfare to hotel rooms to attractions drop as well. I went to Jamaica for the first time in July of 2014, which is considered the beginning of hurricane season. My airfare was about 32% less than usual and my hotel was offering a 6 nights stay for the price of 3 nights. I hopped on a plane and enjoyed a beautiful 7 days’ vacation (not a single drop of rain during my stay). If you can’t resist a bargain but are concerned with Mother Nature ruining your vacation, then buy insurance or have a backup plan just in case it is too yucky to go outside.

  3. I am okay with staying at a hostel or a two star hotel. Traveling, for me, is about experiencing everything: the people, the food, the culture, the scenery. My hotel room is more of a rest and shower place for me. As long as the place is clean, in a safe neighborhood and no more than my budgeted $50 per night for hotels, then it works with me. Significantly reducing my hotel cost is saving me money and allowing me to travel longer.

  4. I sacrifice. I was able to afford my recent trip in Haiti by bringing my lunch to work and  having breakfast at home.  Instead of the deluxe manicure and pedicure, I’d go for the regular treatment. I became creative and changed up girls night out to game night at my house (BYOB and I provide the food and games). In about 45 days of sacrificing life costly pleasures, I was able to save enough money for my airfare and attractions. Sacrificing, creativity and realizing that having fun does not have to cost money is key in funding my travels.

  5. I freelance. I have skills that I have gained over the years and try to find ways to monetize them. By trade, I am an accountant and spend time doing some bookkeeping work for small businesses that do not have the budget to hire a full time accountant. I also do freelance writing and editing. We all have skills that we can monetize. Maybe you have a good eye and can start a freelance photography business. Or maybe you are a good planner and can start an event planning business. Maybe you like kids and have some time on the weekend and can start a babysitting service. We all have skills! The key is to take inventory of your strengths, find where those strengths are needed and charge a pretty penny for your services. With the extra income you can afford more trips!

No SECRET! What are some of the ways you pay for your travels? Share your tips!

-The Accountant - Nellie V

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