Last week, I ran into one of my colleagues in the hallway. I hadn’t seen him since I left for South Africa. Coworker, “Hey, where have you been?” Me, “I was on vacation.” Coworker, “oh really, Where did you go?” Me, “I went to South Africa.” Coworker, mouth hanging open, “oh, you must be rich!” My coworker was being facetious but unfortunately there is a common misconception that if a person travels frequently, especially internationally, they must be well off.
More often than not, people assume I’m rolling in the dough because of my travels. This could not be further from the truth. I make what most people would consider a modest salary and I have bills just like everybody else. However, I believe what separates me and most frequent travelers from non-travelers are priorities. Travel is a priority for me. I don’t say that to be condescending or judgmental. The truth of the matter is people have money for what they feel is important. I know several people who have designer bags, designer shoes, and luxury cars but don’t have the money to travel. For them, luxury brand-name goods are important, so they prioritize their finances to buy such items. I, on the other hand, shop mainly at Goodwill because I am not as concerned with luxury items unless they can be purchased second-hand. Everyone has different values and how a person spends their money is indicative of what’s important to them. Sure, I could have more money in the bank if I didn’t travel as much. However, I don’t mind spending money on travel because traveling is more than a hobby for me, it’s a lifestyle.
Here is a list of ways to lower expenses or make money in order to travel more:
1. I drive a 95 Honda Accord, complete with a broken headlight and peeling paint. My sister tells me it sounds like a dishwasher. HATER! Sure, I could afford to go out and buy a newer car but it’s not a necessity. No new car for me until the wheels fall off and old faithful has driven its last mile. My “vintage” Honda serves its purpose which is to get me where I need to be. The money I save on a car note goes into my travel fund.
2. Some frequent travelers cut out cable and instead opt for Roku streaming TV where you can enjoy Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.
3. Limit eating out. I bring my lunch to work every day so it’s okay if I eat out a couple times a month.
4. Some travelers complete online surveys in order to make more money for traveling. I’ve found that credit cards with travel benefits are also a good way to earn money toward traveling.
5. I live at home with two wonderful roommates, yes they are both responsible for my birth, but that’s beside the point. I admit many 30-year-olds would find it embarrassing to live at home with their parents. Believe me, I get it! I’ve lived on my own before. However, right now it makes financial sense for me to stay at home, where the rent is free, and I have a personal chef who makes delicious meals almost daily. Thanks mom! It allows me to save my rent money and it cuts down on my grocery bills. Rent in Southern California is not cheap! I do have plans to move out next year but until then, I will continue to make the most out of my situation. I realize many people don’t have the option or desire to live at home which I completely understand. Having a roommate is another way to save money on rent. Renters and owners might also consider renting their homes out through Airbnb in order to bring in additional income.
6. Sign up with airlines to get frequent flier miles. After a few flights, you’ll be well on your way to your first free flight. I currently have over 40k miles with American, which is enough for an international flight. It is important to note that you DON’T need a credit card to accrue frequent flier miles. When you make your reservation include your frequent flier account number and the miles will be credited to your account.
7. Cutting out manicures, pedicures and trips to the beauty salon from your budget could save you on average $100 a month or more. I don’t get my nails or hair done. My philosophy has always been why should I pay someone to do something that I can do myself? Consider becoming BFF’s with YouTube and learn how to be your own glam squad.
8. Donate gently used clothes/shoes to your local consignment shop.
9. Ditch the gym membership. I only recommend this if you’re someone who has a membership but never actually uses it. I have a gym membership and I rarely go but I haven’t parted ways yet because it’s the only way I have access to a pool and I love to swim.
10. Drinking. Instead of purchasing overpriced drinks when you go out, drink at home. Of course I am not condoning drinking and driving. However, you do the math, if you go out three times a month and have 2 drinks, that can run you anywhere from $60-90. $90 is the equivalent of a one-way domestic flight to some cities.
People frequently say to me “oh, Brittany I wish I could travel like you” or “one day I’m going to travel.” I think we constantly need to remind ourselves that life is short, there is no guarantee that you will be able to travel tomorrow. Perhaps you can only travel to one country or city a year or every other year. I am a firm believer that nothing is impossible if you truly work hard to achieve it. Start saving for your next vacation today! It might be as little as $20 per pay check but before you know it, it will add up. Rick Warren says, “If you don’t have a date, it’s not a goal. It’s a wish. It’s a dream…But wishes are a dime a dozen; they’re worthless. The only thing that will change your life is setting a goal. You’ve got to wake up from the dream and go to work!” It’s easy to say, I dream of going to Italy. When you make a conscious goal to visit Italy by December 2016, then you’re much more likely to make it happen because you’re invested.
No, I’m not rich. I choose to make sacrifices for my lifestyle and you can do the same. If international travel is not your thing, domestic travel is equally important. Just go somewhere! I personally believe traveling is important because it opens your mind and allows you to view life from different perspectives. In my opinion, it’s difficult have a well rounded view of the world if you’re only surrounded by people who look like you, speak your language, or practice your religion. The purpose of this blog is to encourage each and everyone to get out of their comfort zones and see the world, be it New Orleans or New Zealand. Just go somewhere, anywhere. Don’t just talk about that trip you want to take, start planning it! The possibilities are endless.