So you have decided that you want to travel, Hurray! In my opinion, there is no better way to spend your time and money. But speaking of money, it does cost quite a bit to get on a plane with your family and jet off to some new location. It takes work and dedication; but it is easier than you think! I have gathered for you the 5 ways our family of 5 affords to travel.
1. Set a Realistic Budget.
This is the first thing we do when we set our sights on a new country. Set a budget that works for YOU. Don’t look at what everyone else is spending, your family is unique and your budget needs to reflect that. Travelling creates long-lasting memories, teaches you things you never thought possible and truly opens your eyes (and your children’s!). Any amount of money to do those things is simply priceless.
2. Cut Back
We all know the saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too?” Well they weren’t kidding. If travel is a priority, you need to cut back. If you are like the rest of us, money doesn’t grow on trees. So you need to find it somewhere else. Look at your monthly expenses, what can you cut out in order to afford to travel?
We cut out our gym membership saving us $120 a month.
I canceled our satellite and even my cell phone. Between Netflix and WIFI calling, I have never for a moment felt as though I was giving anything up. Between the two we saved another $200 a month. Between the three we have saved $3840 a year! Its amazing how everything adds up, and before you know it you are well on your way to your budget.
Tip: Now that you have saved this money, here is the most important part; put it in a savings account! It is way too easy to end up spending that money on something else and then you are left with nothing again. You saved that money, put it away for your well-deserved trip.
3. Curb your spending
Once again, it is amazing how fast everything adds up. Food can be the number one expense in most families. Make a list of your meals for the week, plan it out and shop once a week. I use AnyList to meal plan and it automatically adds the ingredients that I need to my list. Nothing gets wasted and you only buy what you need.
Shopping without a list and a plan costs you more money than you realize. Before planning, I was spending $600 a month on average at the grocery store. After planning, I am now spending under $500. Put that money in your travel fund, another $1200 a year! Sure it isn’t easy planning, but trust me; it is worth it!
Tip: Don’t look at items simply costing you “money”, they cost you hours of your life working to make that money. Before purchasing anything (a purse, a meal out, a sweater etc.) as yourself, is this worth 4 hours of my life? It’s amazing how often you will put it back and move on.
4. Be flexible
This option has saved us so much money when planning. We don’t care where we go, as long as we can go somewhere! Our dates are flexible and this also saves us so much money. When you are paying for 5 plane tickets (and we all know how plane tickets will eat a budget), going on a Wednesday as opposed to a Saturday can save you hundreds.
Skyscanner and Kayak Explore are my favorite search engine to use when looking for tickets. Both options allow you to choose by month, cheapest month or just see where an affordable location is based on the month you wish to travel. Other great options are;
Tip: Don’t forget to clear your cache before looking at flights, or browse in private mode. Airlines use your search history against you and jack the prices when they notice that you have been searching the same destination over and over.
5. Home Exchange and Airbnb
This final option may not be for everyone, but it is how we have afforded to top up our budget several times. Home Exchange is a members-only platform that allows you to exchange homes with other members all over the world! Soon we will be staying in a private home in the Bahamas; for Free! We will also be staying 2 weeks in Roatan in a beachfront condo; for Free!
We use Airbnb almost exclusively when we travel. We love to get into the culture of where we are traveling and avoid hotels at all costs. It is important to us to put money into the pockets of the economy, not the big businesses. We love it so much, we offer our home out for rent on Airbnb!
When we found $159 return tickets to Cozumel, we opened up our home on Airbnb and rented it for 3 nights, covering the costs of our flights. Between the two options, we are able to significantly reduce the costs of our travels.
Congratulations, you have now just afforded to take your first trip! Here comes the second part; How to keep your costs low while traveling. (post coming soon!)
How do you afford to travel?