There is a common misconception that traveling is financially unattainable for all but some. I want to share a perspective that might make traveling seem a little more financially attainable.
After speaking with a good friend about this particular blog entry, she brought to my attention that this entry was maybe not written in such a way that promoted total inclusiveness. I had to agree with her because in this original entry I failed to mention specificity in living circumstances. There are people out there, that save every dollar that they have, but due to their personal circumstances would still not have that extra money to travel. I am an unmarried, childless individual who is open to a non-traditional way of living. I have been fortunate to have friends in my life who have let me rent rooms for a very discounted rate ranging even to free. Having a cut on this expense alone has helped make travel realistic for me. Student living (which I have been in) is a very difficult place in which every dollar you have, you’re going to need for a meal. So with that being said, the tone that I want in this entry, is not that affordable travel is easy and that everyone can do it, but more that travelling is affordable if you are able to make it a priority in your life. In most cases the things that we want the most require the greatest amount of perseverance and depending on your personal circumstances, traveling may not be possible to make a priority right now, but not because you don’t want it to be but because you might have children to feed or a lease to pay.
If you have friends offering your a room for rent, this can save you a tonne of money. Not only are you saving money but you may also be helping your friend save money on their mortgage/rent. I am also in a relationship with a unique individual who would sleep and live out of his car if it meant he would save enough to get to travel for the next 6 months. This is obviously not everyone’s ideal situation but I think demonstrates the perseverance that different people commit to when it comes getting to do the things they want to (when they have the option to). I will also add that being in a relationship can be extremely helpful in financial areas if your partner is equally responsible with money. I am not promoting gold digging here, but I am saying that living with your partner can cut expenses in half when it comes to rent and food. Sharing a car can also drop monthly expenses drastically (if you trust them enough not to crash it). Moral of the story, use your friends (respectfully obviously), use your resources, cut any unnecessary expenses and if you have the option, keep in mind that you may have to sacrifice the quality of your living conditions temporarily if it means making your traveling dreams comes true. Not everyone is going to be willing or even able to do this and I understand that.
No Resort Life
If your idea of traveling is a 5 Star, all inclusive resort in Cancun, then yes, traveling for you is going to be expensive. Not only are you paying for flights, you are paying for Western quality food and living conditions. So if that’s the only travel you are interested in, this article is not for you! The best way to keep travel affordable to is to be open to hostels, alternative methods of travel & street food. Although not the most glamorous, your trip will be equally, if not more, rewarding.
The hammock park we spent a night in on an Island in Cambodia. $5.00US of pure sweat!
For 1 McDonald’s Meal a Day…
So assuming you eat out once a day and we will go on the cheaper side here and say that you only spend $10.00 on a meal (ya right.. but anyways), multiply this by 30.5 days and then multiply that number again by 12 months, the total you come up with is $3,660.00. I can tell you right now, 3 grand is more than enough to travel somewhere and that only requires you to save $10.00 a day for a year. So if traveling is something you would rather do than eat out at McDonald’s, open a savings account and start making your McDonald’s fund into your travel fund. I challenge you to take a second and think about how much you have spent recently on misc. items, fast food, clothing, makeup… seriously all things that you’ve bought because you’ve wanted but maybe didn’t NEED. Take that number and multiply it by a year or even less, 6 months. The number you get might shock you. So if you choose to spend money on these items on a continual basis, all the power to you, it is of course, your money. However, please do not say travel is financially unattainable if you have the money every month to spend on these items. If you have the money to spend on a chocolate bar, a dinner out, a new wallet, cookies… basically anything other than the necessitates one needs to survive, you can afford to travel.
Flights are usually the most expensive part of your trip. Obviously depending on the place where you want to travel, prices vary. There are useful flight search engines such as FlightScanner, FlightHub & CheapFlights that you can use to compare prices between companies. Landon and I used CheapFlights to book our tickets to Asia and got a decent price of about $900 each. It is also noteworthy to research off peak seasons and travel accordingly. Flight prices can fluctuate quite drastically throughout the year depending on these seasons. This research takes only a moment of your time on a Google search engine. Asia is one of the cheapest places in general to travel which is what made our decision to travel there so easy. It is also important to understand that booking in advance is not always cheaper. Lots of flights drop in price drastically only days before schedule departure. So if you are looking for REALLY CHEAP flights & if you have the open availability, I highly recommend keeping a clear schedule and booking your flights last minute to take advantage of some crazy deals. You can look for yourself, if you try booking a flight for tonight at midnight and compare the same flight for a later date, say 6 months from now, there can often be a significant difference.
What about my Bills? #ADULTING
If you are like most people, you have monthly bills that need to be paid. The way I got around this was to save up enough money in the bank so that when I was traveling, there was enough money there that when my bills were taken out biweekly my payments did not bounce. Depending on how many monthly expenses you have, this number will vary. But for example, I know my monthly expenses are around $564.00, so if I wanted to travel for 4 months, I would have to have around $2,256.00 additionally saved up in the bank prior to my departure. This adds up to being about $188.00 a month I would additionally have to save up for a year to travel for 4 months. This is a realistic number for most if we keep in mind the additional unnecessary ways we tend to spend our money
*Something to keep in Mind
There are plenty of ways to lower your debts while you are traveling also. For example:
- Cell Phone– Either cancel it or if you have a plan like me, put your plan to the lowest possible rate. The lowest I could get mine was $60.00, but my plan usually runs me around $150.00 a month while in active use. This is an obvious saving.
- Rent- If you are renting month to month, move out and become HOMELESS while you travel. This way you will not be spending rent while you travel for somewhere that you aren’t even living, especially if you plan to travel for an extended period of time.
- Car Insurance- Theft and Fire Baby! Park your car and take unnecessary insurance off of it. We had friends park our cars at their place and I paid $12.00 a month for fire and theft insurance rather than my usually $240 a month to have the car on the road.
- Student Loans– If you have a Provincial/Federal Student Loan in Canada, you can apply for repayment assistance. If you become jobless (aka quit your job to travel) you can apply for this assistance and if it holds true that you no longer have income, you will not be required to make payments during this period of time. Although this will not be helpful in paying back your loans quickly, it takes away one more payment you have to save up for if you decide to travel.
Backpacking or Bust
Backpacking is by far going to be the cheapest method of travel. Landon and I had a one way flight and no other plans. We literally went door to door in the mornings searching for the cheapest guest house or hostels. The most we payed for lodging in Asia was $25US and the least we payed was $4US. Tour groups and touristy places are going to gash you for money because they are made for tourists and they know have money to spend!
*QUICK TIP- Find a travel partner! Hostels in Asia ran around $7-10US a night for a single bunk. Because Landon and I were more than okay with sharing a bed we were able to get a private room that was about $10US. So if you are travelling alone, it makes more sense to purchase the single bed for 7 dollars but if you are in twos, you can get a private room with a (usually clean) private bathroom for 5 dollars a night each, because obviously the cost is split between people. It’s cheaper and you get a much better deal than sleeping in a dormitory with shared bathrooms. Don’t get me wrong though, you are going to meet way more travel buddies staying in the dorm, all I am saying is that there are always more options!
______________________________________________Also, by carrying just one backpack each, we avoided checked bagged fees on all of our flights which nowadays can really add up. When you backpack you are also completely in control on how much you want to spend on food. By backpacking Landon and I were having full meals from the street for $1US. We heard quite a few people express concerns about getting sick from street food. I never was sick once and the one time Landon got sick on our trip was from a restaurant designed for tourists. Keep in mind the street food in most countries is actually there for their people not Western tourists… and they don’t want to get sick just as much as we don’t. Cooking and preparing food properly is literally an important evolutionary skill so contrary to belief, care is exercised in food prep whether it’s in Canada or in a 3rd World Country.
*QUICK TIP- Research exchange rates and economy in the Countries you want to travel. Asia was a little more expensive than necessary and that was only because we had to exchange our Canadian money into American to exchange for Asian currencies. As you are all probably aware, the Canadian dollar is very low and you will definitely be losing money exchanging Canadian money for American right now.
- Travel is not financially out of reach– get your priorities straight and for 1 McDonald’s Meal a day you can be on your dream backpacking destination in no time
- Traveling with bills and expenses in not impossible– remember there are also ways to lower expenses while you are out of country, it just takes some calculating and time to figure out… and you may just have to save up a little more.. or for a little longer
- Backpacking is the cheapest method of travel– The world of Hostels, Street Foods and Hitchhiking
- Travel partners make food and bunking cheaper – traveling can also be really rewarding when you go with more than just yourself because you get to share your experiences first hand!
- Do your research! -Flights, economies, peak seasons, general costs, map it out and find out how you can get the best deal on the destinations you want to go!
So… Next time you go to treat yourself, think about putting that money into your savings account, hopefully I will see your Instagram posts soon on the epic adventure you had the opportunity to take from prioritizing your finances!