This is a post I have been wanting to write for quite a while, because I’m sure it’s a commonly wondered question. I mean, I’m an 18-year-old, working as an Au Pair, and paying for life in Paris (très cher), yet I still manage to get in about 5-6 trips each year. So, how can I afford to travel on my very (I mean very) limited budget? Click through to find out the tips and tricks I employ.
- I hold of elsewhere. I think that this is the most important aspect of how I can afford to travel. You won’t find me buying expensive clothes (or even many inexpensive clothes, I think long and hard before forking the money over), going out to eat constantly, or even buying gourmet groceries (yay for 99 cent produce!). Instead, I order the cheapest beer on the menu, bring my own lunches when meeting friends, and get creative with the clothes I already have (which is way too many anyways).
- I put aside “travel spending money” every week. The first tip is what allows me to do this. Because I try to spend as little as possible, I’m able to put aside 30-50 Euros a week. The amount is more or less depending on whether or not I go out to brunch or not, but most of the time I’ll just think, “pancakes I can make at home as well, or a night in a Barcelona AirBNB?”.
- The rest is strictly budgeted. And this is also key to making the above happen. Each week I immediately stash my travel money away, and whatever I am left with is the cash I have for the week. For example, this week I decided no new clothing because I want to go out more at night with friends. You might have to sacrifice some things, but you also find out over time where the little spending money you do allow yourself is worth spending.
- I do tons of research before booking anything. I spent about 2 weeks looking up tickets to Barcelona and AirBNBs around town before booking anything. Because of this, I was able to book everything for 150 Euros (5 days of AirBNB and transportation back and forth from Paris). I truly believe that the intensive research saved me a ton of money. Also, start researching well in advance so you can monitor prices and new availabilities across the board.
- I make travel a priority. This might go back to the above, but I have picked travel as the most important thing to spend my money on. Don’t get me wrong, I love brunch and Zara as much as the next girly-girl, but for me seeing the canals of Amsterdam again this year is just more important. Sometimes it really pains me when I have to admit that I can’t afford something I love (no Outside Lands in San Francisco this summer), but I know it’ll pay off when I’m tanning on a Spanish beach.
- I rough it. Your trips don’t have to be glam! While I did end up paying a little extra to fly home from Barcelona (because it gives us a whole extra day there), I’m in for a 14 hour overnight bus ride on the way there. Who cares though, it was cheap, I’m young, and I’m going to Spain! And as my mom always likes to say: roughing it during these years will makes the day that you can finally afford the luxury so much more enjoyable. Gotta have something to look forward to!
- Start small. Go somewhere nearby! If you live in Los Angeles, go camping for a weekend in Big Sur and write about your experience. If you’re from Germany, take a weekend trip to Berlin! Barcelona was one of the cheapest places to go, and thus that’s where the tide has pulled me. You don’t have to go to Tokyo or Sydney. There is so much to explore just beyond the city limits or where you’re currently located.
I hope that this has given you guys some insight and helpful tips. I always love to share budget advice when it comes to traveling, and if you have your own little ways of affording the next voyage, please do fill me in in the comments below! Here’s to hoping that one day I’ll be able to afford organic food and traveling, but for now I am perfectly happy munching on my 99 cent carrots.