This is definitely an issue I have to address A LOT. Sometimes it is posed as a genuine question, from people who are looking to travel more and want to know how I afford to travel as much as I do. Other times it’s posed as a snide remark from people who are either jealous or don’t agree with my lifestyle. Sometimes it even comes with rolled eyes or a sarcastic shaking of the head. And it almost always comes with assumptions about how rich I am, how much in debt I must be or how I must have a well-paying job.
But let me just clarify…I am not rich (nor are my parents, grandparents, great aunties/uncles, or any other distant relatives), I did not win the lottery, I did not inherit a huge amount of money, I am not in debt and I work part-time at a job which pays not that much more than minimum wage.
So how on earth do I afford to travel, I hear you ask! Do I have a money tree? Do I have some mind-boggling secret that only a select few are privy to? No and no!
The truth is…I make choices. Choices about what I spend my hard earned money on. And the truth of the matter is, we all make choices based on what is important to us at certain times of our lives. We all have different interests and as such, we choose to spend our money on what interests us.
For example, I have several friends who are huge car fanatics and so they spend their money on nice cars, car accessories, alloy wheels etc. I have friends who are passionate about fine wine and fine dining, so they spend their money eating in Michelin star restaurants. I have friends who would not be seen dead in high-street fashion, so they spend their money on expensive clothes and shoes. Or some that want to own a house and have children and spend their money paying a mortgage and raising kids. All of these things are fine because we are all different, but they all involve making a choice about what is important to us as individuals and choosing to spend money on a particular hobby, interest or way of life. Nobody questions it when someone buys a house, a new car or the latest iPhone. So why do people question my ability to afford to travel? I honestly don’t know!
I make many sacrifices in order to afford trips. I have had the same car for 8 years and will have the same car until it dies. I don’t have the latest smartphone, in fact mine has a huge crack across the screen, which I refuse to get fixed because the money I would spend getting it repaired would pay for a flight. I don’t splurge on fine wine, expensive clothes or homewares. I don’t have a mortgage, nor do I have children. Not because I disagree with any of these things, but because they are not important to me right now. And that’s not to say they won’t be important to me in the future, perhaps they will. But right now, travel is my absolute priority because it makes me happy.
Now call me stingy if you like. In fact, I know I am stingy in some areas, but this stinginess means I can take multiple trips a year, while still enjoying a good quality of life at home. I’m not saying I am a complete scrooge. I have other interests outside of travel, such as eating out with friends, entertaining at home, cycling, going to the theatre, drinking cocktails etc and I do choose to spend money on these things…but in moderation and always on a budget. Some people might see this as deprivation, but I see it as a lifestyle which enables me to design a life I love.
Of course there are times when I do need to spend a bit of money on an item I need. For example, earlier this year, my smartphone stopped working and I needed to buy another. I could’ve spent £500 on a brand new smartphone, or signed a £35 a month 2-year contract. Instead, I shopped around for a few weeks and found a perfectly great used smartphone on eBay for £120. I signed a SIM only contract for £10 a month and voila…several hundred ££ saved!
There are also times when I actually want to splash out on an item I don’t really need. Like some Kurt Geiger boots I fell in love with last winter. At £175 retail price, I knew that I could not justify spending that much on something I did not need. So I thought about it for a while and when I decided I definitely did want them (not just a passing impulse buy), I shopped around online and found them in the sale on Amazon for £119, and to top it off I had £100 Amazon voucher I had accrued from some work I had done previously. So the £175 boots ended up costing me £19. MAJOR WIN!!
It’s not always possible to find such great deals but there is usually a way around paying full-price, whether it is waiting until the item goes in the sale, buying an alternate brand or just foregoing the purchase full-stop.
The last thing I will say before I end my
rant post, is this…if you are dead set on staying in 5-star luxury hotels and flying first class everytime you go away on holiday. You will never be able to travel more than once or at a push, twice a year (unless you are a millionaire, in which case, I want to be friends with you ;)). Another way I manage to travel so much is that I invest a lot of time into searching and finding bargain travel deals online. I have a steadily growing repertoire of trusted websites and online travel companies that I go to for the best deals. I know what I am happy to pay and very rarely will I go over my budget, unless I feel like treating myself, which does happen from time to time. I am happy to stay in 2-3 star hotels, as long as they are clean and safe, and to fly with budget airlines at awkward times through the night, because this means I can go on 7-8 trips a year as opposed to 1 or 2.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you really and truly want to travel more, you can. You may have to make choices and sacrifices but it all depends what is really important in your heart. If you’re not happy to make sacrifices, that’s your call, but please don’t judge me and roll your eyes next time I say I’m going on holiday :-).
For more tips on how to save money when travelling, see my post ’11 Ways to Save Money on your Next Trip’.
What are your thoughts on this subject? I’d love to hear your comments below.