I’ve written in the past about how to afford to travel on a budget. I’ve touched on how I find the best deals on flights, accommodations, and experiences.
However, none of that matters if you can’t afford to travel due to monthly expenses at home.
Here are a few tips that helped me get rid of unnecessary monthly expenses that only held me back from accomplishing my dreams of full-time travel and financial freedom!
1 // Ditch your monthly and yearly subscriptions.
This alone can eat up so much of your disposable income. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Birchbox, Fab Fit Fun, and any other similar services can take up so much money we don’t think about.
If you can limit how many of these you pay per month, then put that money into a special savings account for your dream vacation. Which brings me to…
2 // Open a special savings account for travel.
When you immediately set aside money from your paycheck, it’s easier to pretend it isn’t there. Once you adjust to the smaller budget, you will realize you didn’t need it after all.
Over time, that savings account will build up enough to explore the world, and have an amazing time! All it takes is self-control and a few clicks on your bank’s website. Why not start now?
3 // Use the sign-on bonus of a travel rewards credit card.
If you have good credit, there is a plethora of travel rewards credit cards available to you that essentially offer free money if you maximize their benefits. If not, then they’re not worth the annual fee or minimum spend.
However, earlier this year, I got the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It was my first credit card, and I was tactful with how I used it.
I researched everything I could about it before applying, and used expenses I would have made anyway in order to reach the minimum spend. I knew I would be able to meet it and earn 60,000 points before I applied.
Because of this research, planning, and monitoring of my spending, I’ve managed to accrue over 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That alone can get me a free plane ticket overseas! All of this is from regular, everyday spending (aside from the sign-on bonus minimum spend) and paying my balance in full through AutoPay every month.
I cannot stress this enough: if you do not pay your balance in full every month, you will pay higher interest than the points are worth.
All of that being said, travel rewards credit cards are a source of free travel perks when optimized. Take advantage of deals like these!
4 // Minimize your core monthly payments.
Most of us have rent or a mortgage, car payments, student loans, and insurance that absolutely must be paid each month. While these expenses are not necessarily bad, they can be streamlined.
I know far too many people with car payments over $450. Why? Because they bought a car that was too expensive for their income. Consider buying a car only if you don’t have one and need it, or the one you have now costs more in mechanic bills than its Kelley Blue Book value.
If you can continue to drive it, then do so. My car is a 2003 Toyota Camry, and I have no intentions of replacing it anytime soon. It’s reliable and cost-effective.
With regards to rent, where can you save? Could you get a roommate and split the costs with them? Look at your monthly expenses and see where you could save without jeopardizing your work towards financial freedom.
5 // Spend half of your entertainment budget on travel.
Instead of going out twice per weekend, go out once and deposit the rest into your special travel savings account. On the other night, invite friends to stay in and have a cocktail night! That alone will save you over $20 between Lyft, drinks, and cover charges.
If you love going to the movies, shopping, and going out to dinner, I get it. All of those are fun, enjoyable aspects of life! But, as travel became my top financial priority, I realized that I could have just as much fun by (almost) eliminating these from my budget.
Now, I watch movies I’ve never seen at home, I shop only on clearance, and I try hard to stick to a budget of only $100 per month on eating out. It’s not easy, but I remind myself of what my real goals are in life when I want to splurge.
. . .
These 5 steps are a few of the ways I know how to afford to travel internationally. They’ve helped me see that travel is possible if you research for the best deals, learn how to maximize points, and minimize your spending on non-necessities.
One day, you’ll wake up and realize that all the work was worth it. Now, you can afford to have the vacation of your dreams, or even quit your job to backpack for a year.
The opportunities are endless! So, what’s holding you back?
*Cover photo by Jordan Sanchez. Thanks, Jordan!
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Great tips! I love to use the bonus points from credit cards to score free tickets 🙂
Especially #1! and check your statements for charges you don’t even know about or have forgotten you subscribe to.
Great post! These are definitely helpful tips for saving for travel. 🙂
Krystianna @ Volumes and Voyages
These are great tips! I love taking advantage of reward credit cards!! Thanks for sharing.