Aug 11 2011

Six ways you can afford to travel

Peggy McPartland


If you think you can’t afford to travel, think again! It’s not as difficult as you may think.

One of the questions I get asked most often is how can you afford to travel so much?

It might surprise you to find that it’s not all that expensive. It’s really about priorities. Are you committed to wanting to experience the rest of the world or even more of your own backyard?

There’s more than one way to get there and with a little dedication, you’ll quickly see a difference.

1. Debt will hold you back.

Pay off your debt and live within your means. I know, easier said than done.

But it’s important. Credit has become almost too easy.


The average American has approximately $10,000 in credit card debt so you’re not alone.

Fulfilling your dreams of travel becomes much easier when you don’t have any debt.

There are tremendous resources out there. Adam Baker with Man vs. Debt shares great ideas of how to reduce your debt based on his own experiences. It’s worth checking him out.

2. Frequent flyer miles are your friend.

I’ve traveled roundtrip to southeast Asia for $75. Yes, $75!!

I just booked a first class/business class roundtrip flight to Quito, Ecuador leaving in early October. The total cost? $96! Incredible, isn’t it?!

These great fares are possible only through frequent flyer miles.

Mileage credit cards can be incredibly valuable. But only if you don’t have any other debt and can make the commitment to pay them off every month.

I use them for everything possible – for groceries, gas, phone bill, cable, anything I can. I’ve even tried to pay my mortgage with them but for some reason the bank didn’t think that was such a good idea!

Credit card companies often offer incredible deals of large amounts of miles for activating their card. These bonuses add up quickly.

The resources for “travel hacking”are endless. My favorite though is Chris Guillebeau’s Travel Hacking Cartel. He offers a 14 day trial for only $1! And it’s worth every penny.

3. Sell that unused sports gear.

Or any other items you have collecting dust in your basement! I recently sold three pair of cross-country skis, boots, snowshoes and three bikes on Craigslist. Yeh, I know. That’s kind of like my own little sports shop!

I also sold my barbecue, fire pit, yard furniture and lots of other strange things I’d collected over the years.

You’ll be surprised how much you make to put toward your travels by getting rid of the things you no longer use.

4. Start a travel fund.

It doesn’t have to be much. A few dollars every day makes a difference.

You can simply skip a meal out each week, buy one less new pair of jeans a month (or whatever your current vice is!) or skip that daily coffee or glass of wine.

When you’re consistent, it really adds up quickly. It almost seems too simple!

5. Travel to developing countries.

Your dollar will go much further.

The cost of transportation, lodging, food and entertainment is a small fraction of what it costs at home or in any more developed country.

6. Stay at budget lodging.

Budget lodging sounds so distasteful, doesn’t it?!

It’s really not though. Just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean it can’t be charming.

You’ll also meet more people and experience more of the local culture by staying at less expensive, more local places.

I’m not much of a hostel person since I always feel they’re more for younger travelers. And god knows, I’m not exactly in that crowd any longer! Don’t let that scare you away though. I know plenty of middle-aged people who wouldn’t stay anywhere else.

It’s not at all uncommon in southeast Asia or Latin American countries to find great places to stay for less than $15 a night. Seriously!

I’ve stayed in some incredible little places and met amazing people at so-called budget lodging.

Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are always a good place to start your search.

Believe it or not, I actually spend less money traveling than if I stayed home. When I’m traveling, I’m not out shopping, food costs way less, my transportation costs go down and entertainment is always much less expensive.

Try out even a few of these ideas and you’ll be fulfilling your travel dreams before you know it. It’s really not as tough as it seems!

So, how about you? What ways are you able to make travel more affordable?

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