One of our favorite ways to wile away the summer days is to travel, both near and far. But, these trips, even if you keep them to a week or long weekend, can really add up. Today, we’re excited to share a guest post from Molly Barnes, animal lover and author of the blog Digital Nomad Life. She has some great tips to save money while traveling – especially on those trips that may last a couple of weeks to even a few months. Take it away, Molly!
Have you always wanted to travel around the world — but have been discouraged by how much it costs? It’s true that exploring the globe can be expensive. When wandering for a whole year, world travelers can easily spend between $20,000 and $30,000. If taking a long road trip across the country better suits you, it won’t cost nearly as much; some people have traveled across the country for just over $2,300. But no matter what your travel aspirations, one thing is certain: It’s going to cost you money.
Whether you hope to travel to another continent, country, or state, there’s never been a better time to meet your traveling goals. One of the biggest advantages in this day and age is that a cell phone will help you stay connected to the family and friends you leave behind. Besides that, your cell phone can help you navigate your surroundings, make financial transactions, and document the trip with photos and video along the way.
Along with paying for all that mobile data, you’ll need money to pay for your travel, accommodations, food, and incidentals. But if you’re serious about doing it, you’ll be glad to know there are plenty of tips that can help you travel without going broke.
1. Plan Your Route
A trip takes a ton of planning, especially if you’re going to be gone for an extended period. You might prefer being spontaneous when you travel, but there are several benefits to planning your route in advance.
Choose locations you can afford.
Some places are much more expensive than others. For example, some of the most expensive travel destinations include Bermuda, Switzerland, and Hong Kong. If you’re traveling within the United States, more expensive destinations include New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. To stretch your budget, choose a vacation destination that offers the adventures you’re looking for without the high price tag, like Atlanta, New Orleans, or Yellowstone National Park.
Set a route that makes sense.
Sometimes you’re at the mercy of the airlines or bus companies, and you end up flying Chicago to Minsk because that’s the cheapest way to get to Jaipur — but more often you can create your own itinerary that cuts the shortest (and cheapest) distance between points. Book nonstop flights when it’s possible, leave plenty of time for connections when it’s not, and look into travel apps that help you connect the dots on your itinerary.
Know how long you’ll be staying.
Typically, the longer you stay in one place, the greater the bang for your buck, since most hotels and rentals will charge you less per night when you rack up more nights. Or you can choose to stay at a hostel, where you will pay shared rent with a group of people.
2. Come Up with a Financial Plan
After you’ve decided where you’ll be traveling and the length of time you’ll be gone, you’ll need to come up with a financial plan. You’re probably not going to win the lottery, nor will you likely receive a large inheritance just in time for your trip, so it’s best to come up with ways to pay for your travels and save as much as possible.
Count your cash.
Do you have money in savings? Maybe you received a large tax refund that you can put toward your travels? Have you raided the piggy bank yet? Knowing the total you have beforehand will help you plan better.
Make a list of expenses.
Some of the most obvious expenses on your list will include accommodations, food, and activities. One of your biggest expenses will be transportation costs. Airline tickets can get expensive, especially when flying to another country. The cost of fuel can also add up if you’re driving a vehicle across the country.
Start saving or sell some stuff.
If the amount of money you have doesn’t cover your expenses, you’re either going to have to start saving now or sell some of your stuff (or both). No matter what you do, you need to ensure your expenses are covered: Being broke and far from home takes the fun out of traveling.
Join rewards programs.
Maybe you’ve encountered people who say, “I flew to Bali on points,” and you’ve wondered, “What?!” The fact is, it can be done — if you’re diligent about joining rewards programs to earn miles or points. Many travel-friendly credit cards, major hotels, and airlines encourage travelers to join their rewards programs, which offer miles or points on every purchase. Loyal program members eventually can redeem these for further travels.
3. Figure Out How to Earn Money While Traveling
Not having enough money doesn’t mean you have to put your traveling dreams on hold. Here are some ideas to help you figure out how you can earn money while you’re gone, which will help you pay your expenses and not go broke during your journey.
Ask your boss if you can work remotely.
You don’t necessarily have to be in the same location as your boss in order to work. If you can do your job remotely, it can be a great way to earn money as you travel.
Start your own business.
There are many kinds of businesses that let you earn money while traveling. Some of these include photographer, public speaker, writer, translator, travel blogger, and English teacher, just to name a few.
Attend trade shows and conferences.
Whether you work remotely for your boss or have your own business, you can travel from city to city by attending trade shows and conferences. Some of these networking events even take place in other countries. They can be a great way to get paid to travel while marketing the skills and services you have to offer.
4. Take Care of Things at Home
Before you set out on your adventure, you’ll need to ensure that your home base is looked after. This includes providing for the pets and plants you leave behind, as well as making sure bills are paid and mail is collected, and putting things in storage if necessary.
Find someone to look after your home.
Who is looking after your home while you’re away? Maybe you have a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member who can house-sit, or even just come by once a week just to make sure everything is in order. You can also rent out your home, which is a great way to earn income while you’re traveling.
Hold your mail.
If you haven’t gone totally paperless yet, the post office will need to hold your mail. If you’re traveling within the country for longer than a month, you can get mail forwarded to another post office in the city you’re visiting. Or look into the option of a virtual mailbox.
Take care of your bills.
In order to make sure your bills still get paid on time before you go, you’ll want to sign up for online bill payment. If you aren’t going to be using your electricity while you’re away, you’ll need to cancel that and any other utilities you won’t be using. Also, if you travel during the beginning of the year, do your taxes before going away.
Travel can have a lot of moving parts, and there are always surprises around the corner. By doing some diligent research and planning well beforehand, you can create a budget, itinerary, and household plan that take care of most of the details. Once you figure out all the ways you can save while booking and earn while traveling, you’ll be able to keep some money in your pocket while seeing the countryside — or the world.