If you read Part 1 of this article we shared with you the steps that we took to save up enough money so that we could quit our jobs and become permanent travelers. But once you’ve finally saved up enough and you’re ready to hit the road, it’s important that you don’t blow it all too quickly and have your dream of traveling the world come to an end.
Before we became full-time travelers a year and a half ago, we would usually take one international vacation each year. These trips would usually be for about one week and would cost roughly $3,000, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the location. Now we are traveling 52-weeks per year. Take $3,000 and multiply it by 52, and you’re looking at over $150,000 in spending for the year. So how can we afford this?
Well to start, we are not spending anywhere near $150,000 per year. During our first year of traveling in South America in 2018 and 2019 we spent around $24,000. And that includes everything for two: flights, accommodation, activities, food, health insurance, and even the mail service we use to handle our mail while we’re gone. How do we keep our travel expenses so low? That’s probably the question we get asked the most, and we’ve got a list of tips for you.
Tip 1: Say “Yes” To Traveling Slowly
When you travel slowly you spend less money on transportation because you’re moving from place to place less often. And quite frequently you will save on accommodation costs too. We usually get a discount of 20% to 40% off Airbnb apartments by renting for 28 days or longer.
Tip 2: Say “No” To Eating Out Everyday
I know, experiencing the local cuisine is a major part of the travel experience. We’re not saying you should never eat out. But the more cooking you do yourself the more you’ll save. Here’s another idea: most places with large tourist populations have cooking classes. The class itself is a fun experience, and you’ll learn how to make those local dishes yourself. (And when booking an apartment don’t forget to make sure it has a kitchen.)
Tip 3: Say “Yes” to Water Filters
We have a Sawyer water filter that we bring with us. It’s light weight, can fill a 1 liter bottle in a few seconds, and saves us about $50 per month by not having to buy bottled water. This helps the environment too.
Tip 4: Say “No” to ATM Fees
We have a Schwab debit card that reimburses all ATM fees. This usually saves us about $30 per month.
Tip 5: Say “Yes” to Flexible Travel Dates
Airline ticket prices change drastically depending on the day of the week. We like to use Google Flights to research prices because it’s easy to see the price for each day of the month. For example, I’m looking now on Google Flights for a ticket from Hong Kong to Singapore. Prices are as high as $251 and as low as $57. By moving your flight one day later or one day earlier, you can sometimes save a bundle.
Tip 6: Say “Yes” to Packing Light
Most of the budget airlines now offer cheap tickets but make up for that with high checked baggage fees. We travel with only carry-on sized backpacks and save a few hundred dollars a year (depending on how many flights we are taking). If you must check a bag, you can save by sharing a larger checked bag with your travel partner instead of checking two smaller bags.
One thing we want to point out is that you need to spend as much as needed to enjoy your experience. As mentioned, we spent around $24,000 during our first year of travel. We certainly could have spent much less if we had skipped some experiences or stayed in hostel dorms instead of apartments. But what’s the point of going to Peru if you’re not going to spend the money to see Machu Picchu? And staying in a dorm would not be comfortable for us. The point of traveling is to enjoy your experience, not to be miserable just to save a little money. You have to find the balance for yourself and your budget.
Do you have any money saving tips? Leave a comment below to share with others what you do to save on travel.