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 my high bank balance, soaring debt levels or rich family.
But 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.
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? I wish!
The truth is…I make choices. Choices about how I spend my hard earned money. And the truth is, we all make choices based on what’s important to us at certain times in our lives. We all have different interests and, as such, we choose to spend our money on what interests us.
For example, I have friends who love cars, fine wine and dining, designer clothes, a large house, or who have children and, as such, spend their money accordingly. All of these things are fine because we are all different, but they all involve making a choice about what is important to us and choosing to spend our money on that 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 make many sacrifices in order to afford multiple trips a year. I have had the same car for almost a decade and will have the same car until it dies. I don’t have the latest smartphone, in fact, my phone is cracked and has been for two years. I refuse to get it fixed because the money I would spend on repairs could 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.
I’m very careful with how I spend my money. Call me stingy if you like, but this stinginess allows me to take multiple trips each year, while still enjoying a good quality of life at home.
I’m not a complete Scrooge though! I do have other interests outside of travel. I enjoy eating out, entertaining at home, cycling, going to the theatre, and working out at the gym among other things, and I do spend money on these things…but always 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 must spend money. For example, when I next need a new smartphone, I could spend £500 on a brand-new device, or sign an expensive contract. Instead, I’ll probably shop around and find a used smartphone on eBay for much cheaper. I have a SIM-only contract for £15 a month and voila…several hundred ££ saved! I’m not interested in the next-gen iPhone, because it’s not important to me.
There are also times when I want to splash out on an item I don’t really need. Like some Kurt Geiger boots that I fell in love with last winter. At £175 retail price, I knew that I could not justify spending that much money on an unnecessary item.
So, I shopped around online and found them a brand-new pair on Amazon for £119, and to top it off I had £100 worth of Amazon vouchers to spend. So the £175 boots ended up costing me £19 of my actual money. M-A-J-O-R W-I-N!!
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 altogether. You have to decide what’s important to you.
The last thing I’ll 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, you’ll never be able to travel more than once or twice a year (unless you really are rich).
I manage to travel so much because 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.
I’m happy to stay in 2-3 star hotels, as long as they are clean and safe. And I’m happy to fly with budget airlines in the middle of the night because the more money I save, the more trips I can take.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you really and truly want to travel more, you can make it happen. You may have to make choices and sacrifices but it all depends on what is really important to you. If you’re not happy to make sacrifices, that’s your call, but please don’t judge me for my own life choices.
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.