Affording Travel

September 24, 2018

Frequently when I talk to people about travel they have misconceptions that you can only travel with a huge budget or that just the air fare will cost thousands. Not true! I went to four countries in Europe after finding a $220 round trip ticket to Oslo and spent less than $2000 on everything. I could have done the trip for less. Friends always ask how I can afford to travel so here are my tips:

Use resources for finding cheap tickets. My favorites are and the email list from The only catch is that you usually have to be willing to commit to a flight fairly quickly as they often sell out fast. Scott said in the email for the flight I booked to Oslo that he thought the fares would last a few days so I put in a vacation request the next day and was booking it the following evening. A friend recently booked a very cheap round trip to Hawaii using these sites.

For flights in Europe fly Ryanair if you can! Point-to-point flights in Europe are extremely cheap, I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $120 for a flight, but I’ve bought more than one ticket that was $20 or less on Ryanair. I had no idea what to expect the first time I flew Ryanair and was caught off guard when flight attendants started selling products and lottery tickets on board – I honestly thought I had stumbled into an infomercial. That’s half the fun!

 Airbnb (affiliate link) is typically really economical abroad. I shared an apartment that was $60/night in Lisbon, located right in the historic district, complete with a full kitchen and laundry. Hostels are also cheap but I recommend if you’re booking hostels to also book a night or two in a single room so you can catch up on some rest and quiet if you want. Hostels can also be a great way to meet other travelers, here’s how to find the right hostel for you.

bullet Another option for accomodations is to try house-sitting or save money with a home exchange. Remember in the movie The Holiday when Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet spontaneously decide to switch houses? People really do that! Plus the services verify you’re talking to a real person so I’ve only ever heard of good experiences.

Take advantage of backpacker-friendly countries. In Australia and New Zealand there are several companies with hop-on/hop-off buses that allow you to get around easily and make your own schedule. They’re also a built in way of meeting other travelers. Additionally, consider visiting a more budget-friendly destination. There are many affordable countries to visit in Europe.

I was able to save up thousands of dollars to spend several months in Australia and New Zealand while bartending. I kept a lot of my cash tips and put them in a coffee can, using my hourly and credit card tips for living expenses. I started keeping cash after someone told me she used to keep a coffee can for $5 bills and anytime she got a $5 she would save it (other denominations she spent) – needless to say, it added up quickly. As a ski instructor I also kept my cash tips to save for future travel. There are also many jobs that allow you to travel. I also maintain a few savings accounts in addition to my checking account at the bank. One account contains a sum I’ve saved for whatever I need in the future: a deposit on a mortgage, moving across the country expenses, emergencies, etc. Another account contains money I’m saving for future travel. At the end of the month when I’ve paid bills I transfer what I can to my travel account and I do not touch my emergencies account. If I’ve overspent I will pull from my travel savings but I usually find I’m adding to it each month since my monthly expenses are usually rent, groceries and fuel.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2019 at 5:30 am

    I do use Skyscanner for flight info. Other tips too are useful. So good that you have learned the art of saving up. I need to maintain a record of my unnecessary expenditures. Very inspiring post to save for travel.

  • Reply
    Kavita Favelle
    August 13, 2019 at 5:43 am

    It’s great to share these tips for how to make your money go further and be able to afford to travel more as a result. I would also recommend signing up to some of the air fare alert services that let you know when there are particularly good deals for a given destination. Using Airbnb for accommodation is also a good tip since there are often some real deals to be found!

  • Reply
    Sinjana Ghosh
    August 13, 2019 at 6:06 am

    Thanks for sharing your valuable tips for traveling the world. Of course, having a strong passport helps. For me, there is an additional level of a challenge due to a weak Indian passport. It’s still inspiring to know how you saved your bartending tips in a coffee can. Backpacker hostels, airfare deals, travel cards – there are many effective ways to reduce travel cost if one really wants to.

    • Reply
      August 13, 2019 at 10:13 am

      You are right, I should mention that in my post about wanting to see 30 countries by the time I’m 30. My only challenges really are finances and scheduling. I have been so lucky to have a strong passport and I know many have the same travel goals I do and have a much harder time getting to travel just based on their nationality. I definitely realize this privilege that I have. I’ve also read about other bloggers who’ve stopped “counting” countries visited, in solidarity with those that are not able to visit all they like simply due to their passport. I wish you the best with your travels and I’ve been enjoying reading about them on your blog 🙂

  • Reply
    August 13, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Nice job on covering some basic tips to make travel more affordable. Saving money while traveling is a real art today and there are so many ways to save while traveling. I like that you actually included saving money for traveling as this is something most people forget about 🙂

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    August 13, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    There is this misconception about travel being expensive. Again it depends on the kind of travel you do. If your travel includes first-class airfare and stays at luxury hotels, it is going to be expensive. But there are many hacks which can easily reduce travel costs like the ones that you have described. Airfare accounts for a major portion of the travel budget and hence getting great deals on airfare helps in saving substantially.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    You give some really great tips. It’s so possible to save for traveling if you really want to do it. I’m European and can’t stand Ryanair (!) even though it is very cheap. Airbnbs are another budget friendly option and you get to meet some nice people too.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2019 at 2:16 am

    This is wonderful and I use all these tips myself too! I also can’t stand Ryanair! Eek! They make things so terrible for people but I will always choose it if it means cheap flights. You and I share that same goal of 30 before 30 as well and these tips really help. I’ve always budget traveled because I’m young and can afford to stay in hostels and less than 5 star accommodations haha. I’d imagine that when I’m older, I’d feel differently about the places I stay!

  • Reply
    August 17, 2019 at 4:30 am

    Travel is not hugely expensive, it’s just depend on our travel style. I may be one of the very few persons on earth, I know, but I do love Ryanair, their flights are always pretty cheap and I’ve never had a bad experience with them so far! I also tend to use Airbnb a lot, it’s a great way to find reasonably priced accommodation and get to know locals.

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