Two of the things I have the strong passion for are traveling and being financially literate. My wife and I are very tight with our finances, and we do everything we can do to manage our money somewhat well. Traveling on a tight budget can be tough for anyone.
I am a financial geek, I do a lot of reading and studying on the stock market as well as investing. We take spending our money very seriously.
The one thing we make sure to budget for is traveling. We value traveling more then pretty much any other ‘unnecessary’ expense.
But maybe you are asking yourself, “how can I travel with my tight budget?” There are so many ways I cannot begin to include them all in one page, but I will try…
One of the first things you need to ask yourself, is ‘what do I value most?’ Since my wife and I aren’t big income earners we realized we cannot have the best of everything, so we constantly do our best to cut costs where necessary.
The reason asking yourself that question is so important is because IF you value your iPhone, or IF you value your expensive TV package then it might not be feasible to budget for traveling as regularly as someone else can.
So the first main way you can travel more is by cutting your expenses. Cutting expenses is a the absolute best way to be able to travel more.
How can you cut expenses?
- Make a list of all your expenses. Separate the absolutely necessary expenses and the nice luxuries. What are your ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY expenses? Be honest with yourself. The 6 GB data plan a month is probably not a necessary expense. Rather, it is a nice convenience. Trust me, I know from experience.
- After making the list of all your expenses, look at the ones that are not absolutely essential for your survival. After looking at each one, ask yourself “does this expense make me happy?” or “is there anyway I can cut this cost?” If there is, then do it.
- Look into prepaid cell phones. A few years ago I would have never said or looked into it. But the prepaid market is getting bigger and bigger. Once our cell phone plan is up, my wife and I will save over $100 a month by switching to one of the prepaid cell phone plans.
Covering this topic is a post in itself, I will post more on this in the future. But there are a ton of ways to cut expenses to maximize ability to travel.
The second best way to be able to travel more on any budget is by utilizing credit card rewards. Since utilizing this method the last 2 years, I have been able to travel to:
- Europe on 3 separate occasions. Including stops such as: Lisbon, Barcelona, French Riviera, Paris, London, Rome, Florence and other parts of Tuscany, Venice, Pisa, Amalfi Coast, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and more!
- A two week retreat to 3 separate Hawaiian Islands
- Wisconsin to visit friends multiple times
- Trip to Chicago for a weekend
- Dallas to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing a Cowboys game
- Fly my wife’s whole family down to Disney World
- Fly my parents to Las Vegas for their anniversary
And those are just to name a few! And I am FAR from an expert on using them. So clearly credit cards rewards points are valuable. The key is finding out how to use them. I certainly recommend sites such Extra Pack of Peanuts to show you exactly how to use them.
And if you have any other questions on how to use them, then I will do my best to help as well. I have learned a ton by simply researching and figuring out exactly how to use them.
The best way to get a ton of travel rewards points is by applying for credit cards with huge sign up bonuses. As I wrote about here, credit card bonuses can offer you anywhere from $300 – $1000 worth of travel.
The second best way to get credit card rewards is by using your rewards credit cards for everything!
By building your points balances you will eventually get free stays or free flights.
The absolute best thing to do though is combine both. Apply for new cards when there is an awesome credit card offer, and use your credit cards for your every day spend as well! That way you double the results, and keep the credit card companies happy too 🙂
What are some other ways to travel when on a tight budget?
Leave your schedule somewhat open so that if a last minute deal pops up you can take it! For instance, in the last year I have seen some absolutely ridiculous last minute airfares. The problem is, my wife and I were not in position to take advantage. Unfortunately for us, it didn’t work out.
Obviously this is hard for some people that have full-time jobs. But if you can take advantage of last minute travel, it certainly can save you a TON!
The other thing you can do is travel more authentically and stay at hostels or apartments. Not only will you save money, a lot of times they are even nicer then hotels! Hostels get a bad rep, but in reality, some are truly amazing and in locations that large chain hotels cannot be!
Staying at fully furnished beautiful apartments is beginning to gain more and more popularity too. It gives you more space, allows you to cook at home, and is usually cheaper! So rather then renting a house in the outer banks this year with your family, why not rent a house or apartment in Paris or Rome? My kind of vacation 🙂
Go With Oh is an excellent site that rents beautiful houses and apartments throughout Europe. Their customer service is incredible, and certainly is a site I would look at first.
Click these links for more info on how to save when:
These are just some of the many ways you can save when traveling, or before traveling to make vacationing a bigger part of anyones budget.
What are your favorite ways to travel when on a tight budget? Is it something as simple as camping, or renting an RV? Post them in the comments sections below!