how i afford to travel
Does it ever cross your mind while you're scrolling through your Instagram feed, how do these people afford to travel so much? I know it crosses my mind. It seems so glamorous, traveling from one exotic location to another on what appears to be bottomless bank accounts.
Of course we all know that what we see on social media isn't always reality. In my experience, it's meant sacrifice and strategic planning to maximize vacation time.
I realize I have the privilege to travel more often than many. For one thing, I don't have a family to support. For another, I'm at a place in my career where I make a good living so I have the means to spend more on travel. But I am not rich--neither in money nor free time. I have figured out what works for me, and since it's a question I am frequently asked, I wanted to share how I am able to make travel a part of my life.
I prioritize spending on travel
It all comes down to what you prioritize in your budget. And for me, travel takes a top priority after living expenses. Over the last few years, I've been spending less on material things. I think twice before I buy and ask myself, do I really need another [insert your material vice here]? Chances are, the answer is no and the better choice is to put that money towards a trip or experience. And research backs that up: consumers are more satisfied and happier when buying experiences over material goods.
I earn travel rewards through credit cards
I've earned thousand of dollars in points I've collected just by using credit cards to pay for my monthly expenses. I'm going to be making a certain amount of purchases each month anyways, so why not have those purchases earn rewards towards travel? Credit cards are not for everyone, and can be easily abused. But I only spend what I can afford and payoff the balance each month, so they have been a way to earn extra cash. There are many great travel credit cards on the market; the key is to open an account when they offer a big signup bonus to maximize the rewards value. I recommend checking out The Points Guy, an expert on the points game, to learn more.
I'm always on the hunt for flight deals
Let's face it, air travel isn't the most fun experience these days. From arriving hours ahead of your departure time only to stand in long security lines and then being relegated to second class status as you're packed like sardines into the cabin, flying has its downsides. But it's still a necessary part of travel and the way to make it bearable is to get a great deal. (I will endure the conditions for a $400 roundtrip ticket to Paris!) Fortunately for us budget-conscious consumers, deals are aplenty if you keep an eye out. Sign up for alerts from Scott's Cheap Flights, or for those of you in Tallahassee, Fare Skies. Sales and mistake fares are awaiting you.
I use my paid time off
It sounds obvious enough, but we Americans have a difficult time taking time off work for vacation, even when we have the PTO (paid time off) available to do so. According to Project Time oFf, taking your vacation time can actually make you a more productive employee. Because most of us don't get 40 days off like the French (!!!), be strategic about when you take those days. add a day or two to a 3-day holiday weekend or business trip and determine at the beginning of the year if you want to take one long trip or multiple shorter trips. It does help to be flexible especially if you're seeking deals, so you don't necessarily have to plan everything out at once. spontaneity is a good thing! so go ahead and use those days--you've earned them.
What do you do to afford travel? Let me know in the comments section below! And be sure to check out my post on solo travel.