How I Afford to Travel the World

Most people feel like money is a secret and what you make and what you spend is very personal. I disagree and think the more we openly talk about any issue and idea, the more we can all learn and grow together to make better decisions.

One common question I’m always asked is “how do I afford to travel to so many wonderful places?”

Short answer: I make it a priority and save my money.

Longer answer: I budget – and budgeting is surprisingly easy if you have discipline and a goal to work towards.

Ashlyn George Victoria Falls Waterfalls
Here are 20 reasons and explanations on how I afford to travel:

1. I don’t have a mortgage.

2. My car is 20 years old and I only allow myself to fuel up once a month.

3. I coupon.

4. I only buy groceries and clothing on sale. In fact, I try to buy everything I need on sale.

5. I don’t eat out at restaurants (*this is the number one leisure expense most people have*). I invite friends over for meals or have picnics in parks, weather permitting, to cut the cost on eating out.

6. I travel to cheap destinations. I haven’t been to Europe because I can’t afford it yet on a long term travel plan.

7. I travel long term: it’s much cheaper to travel for extended periods of time than to travel for a week.

8. When I started traveling, I had a seasonal job that gave me winters off.

9. I don’t have kids. Or a husband. Not that you can’t have both and still travel (I even recommend it), but being single and independent makes it much easier leave at a moment’s notice.

10. I spend hours searching for a flight and don’t mind taking the longest route to get somewhere, as long as it saves money.

11. I travel like a local. No tourist shuttles for me – I ride the chicken buses, taxi-brousses and microbuses. It’s cheaper and of course much more adventurous.

12. I stay in hostels which are considerably cheaper than hotels. Hostels also have private and family rooms too, not just dormitories.

13. I cook my own food on the road unless there is street food to eat. Then I eat like a local (and it tastes so good).

14. I don’t drink coffee but if I did, I would make it myself instead of going out to Starbucks or Tim Hortons.

15. I very rarely attend concerts, festivals, or big events at home where tickets can be very expensive. They’re also not really my thing so I don’t mind missing out on them.

16. I track every penny I spend so I know exactly where my money is being spent and how fast it’s being spent.

17. I don’t spend money in bars on liquor except when I’m traveling and a beer only costs $1.

18. I sell items I no longer use on Kijiji to earn extra cash.

19. I don’t spend money on little things. A dollar or two can add up quickly so I’m careful of small purchases that eventually add up to big dollars.

20. Most importantly – I make travel a priority. I actively choose to travel and do everything in my power to make it happen.

There are many ways I afford to travel and these are just a few. I also realize how I save money might not work the exact same for you so it’s important to find what fits your lifestyle to save some extra cash.

I don’t admit it’s always easy – it can be really hard to budget sometimes when there’s something you’d like to purchase, but it’s worth it to go zip lining in Costa Rica or skydiving in New Zealand instead of going out to eat four times. It’s also satisfying knowing how hard you worked at saving money when you finally do spend it on amazing travel experiences.

How do you afford to travel? What are some of your budgeting tips? Let me know in the comments below!

20 thoughts on “How I Afford to Travel the World

  1. Excellent tips! Kind of remind me of how some people say they don’t have time for X or Y, when really we all have the same 168hrs a week just like everyone else. What people are really saying is that X or Y is NOT a priority to them. If it is a priority for you, you will make time what what you want and love to do, just like you will save $$$ for what you love and want to do. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Do you live “at home” with parents when you are home? And who pays your healthcare premium in Canada so that when you come home you are covered should you break your leg hiking in Prince Albert National Park. Or… . (Just a reminder, some of the best world class travel destinations are right HERE!

    1. I think you have not looked through my blog enough to realize the type of person I am and the advocate I am for choosing a travel lifestyle (both globally and locally) and the choices I have made to make it happen. You also must be unaware of the work I’ve done to profile Saskatchewan as an amazing travel destination and how often I profile destinations within the province. (Google the Saskatchewanderer program or have a look through my Facebook social media feed). I have travelled more than 37,000 kilometres around Saskatchewan and hiked more than most people, including the entire 125km Boreal Trail – on my own. I’m a huge advocate for traveling locally and live by the words I share with others. I have not lived at home since I was 17. I pay for absolutely everything in my life – including my 2 degrees received in university as well as necessary travel and health insurance. It’s about managing money correctly and being smart with it and working hard. It’s also about making the choices you need to CHOOSE travel for a lifestyle versus a mortgage, a vehicle payment and children. I hope your message was not meant to come off as offensive – because it is absolutely possible for people to achieve their dreams with endless hard work, persistence, smart budgeting, necessary choices and a passion for what they do.

  3. I lead tours so I go for free! Just need spending cash! But it’s only for a few weeks at a time, but I still get to travel and learn a lot from tour guides! Have been on 5 tours 6th in a few weeks and 7th in the spring! Also save for holidays and travel with family and friends!

  4. I traveled for a number of years by running a coaching business to earn a bit of money and used Couch Surfing and Hitch hiking to keep my costs really low. I also lived in an abandoned building in central London. I charged people to move into the abandoned building once I had cleaned it out and got the water and electricity working. Once you’re in the Couch surfing flow you start meeting lots of people and if you have an interesting story you’ll get invited to all sorts of fun things. It also used to be easy to get food that had been thrown away in London. There are a number of restaurants and cafes that will give you free coffee and sandwiches. On the hitch hiking story, it’s easiest to get lifts hitching as couples than as a loan traveler. I’ve hitched from Kenya to Capetown and from Munich to Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and London. No probs 🙂 if you’re a girl, take some pepper spray just in case but if you don’t come across as weak and vulnerable you probably won’t attract weirdo’s. In over 20 thousand kilometers approximately that I’ve hitched I’ve not had a single problem with any one of the drivers. It’s also really freeing to know that you can go wherever you want and do whatever you want. I loved walking down roads in the middle of nowhere just with my backpack.

  5. Not buying things is huge when it comes to saving money for travel. Always ask “do I really need this?” “what will this cost me in terms of travel” because those $5/day lattes add up (speaking as a former Starbucks employee I’ve seen people spend crazy amounts of money on coffee).

    I’m also a fan of the ydeals sites, which post when a good airfare or vacation deal comes up from various cities in Canada. Last year I got cheap airfare to Europe and this year I went to Tokyo and Hong Kong for pretty cheap too (although I don’t do extended travel yet, so I’m sure I could have saved more money if I wanted to). The site I use for Edmonton (where I live) is yegdeals.ca but Saskatoon would be yxedeals.ca and Regina would be yqrdeals.ca.

    1. That’s how I think as well – even though it may be a few dollars it’s surprising how quickly it can add up! Thanks Alouise for the tip on ydeal sites – I’ve never heard of them but will definitely be looking into it now! Any chance to save money is so worth it! 🙂

  6. Great tips. Most importantly (I think) is how you make travelling a priority and you save for it. Adjust your spending to save for travel and while travelling. We do that as well! Travelling as a family we usually try renting condos through VRBO, even if it is only for a week. We find we save money by eating breakfast, snacks and packing food for the road versus eating out for every meal while travelling. We also look to pre-purchase tickets online for activities, sometime you can get combo deals for multiple entrance fees. Thanks for the reminder on a few ways to save my dollars 🙂

    1. Absolutely Nicole! Food is such a huge expense and making your own on the go is not only cheaper, but it’s healthier and often more convenient. Sitting down at restaurants takes so much time when you want to be exploring. (I do try the local cuisine too though as that’s part of the experience – I don’t always skip out on eating out, I just choose it cleverly!).

      Pre-purchasing tickets online is also my go-to as well – great reminder! When I was at Universal Studios in Singapore, I ended up saving money and getting bonus credits at the theme park because I paid online and used a Mastercard – was so worth it!

  7. I live by most of these guidelines! Although I do have a mortgage and a vehichle payment I own my own business that pay for them. I lived in South America for 3 months on less than $20 a day! I live to travel and some people just don’t understand that but, when you’re single, don’t have kids or buy every new toy out there it’s pretty easy, especially when you set goals. I’ve just booked a trip to Europe and will spend the time leading up to it booking hostels/hotels as they go on deals. Travel smart and you can travel forever :). Ps, if you’re in Panama don’t pass up the chance to go to Cartagena, Colombia and Santa Marta, Colombia. They’re are both amazing

    1. That’s exactly it! Travel is a choice and one not everyone is interested in but one that is affordable if you spend your money smartly!

      I actually spent a month in Colombia and loved it! Cartagena is one of the most beautiful cities in South America in my opinion. The Old Town was incredible!

      Happy and safe travels Michael! 🙂

  8. Great advice Ashlyn for saving and prioritizing where one spends their money.
    I travelled to Europe a couple of times for two months total stay there. And I managed not to have to pay for hotel accommodation.
    How it worked for me was being part of an activist community , in this case anti-nuclear. I stayed at fellow activist’s homes as I visited a number of countries. I learned about their own local situations for our shared cause but also experienced visiting tourist places also.
    I basically had a local guide in each place I visted.
    I traveled to 6 countries doing this and met people with common interests to my own and became personal friends with many.
    It was a great experience and another way to visit a place and not have to pay for expensive hotel accommodation.

    1. That is such a great way to do it Neil! And it lets you really get to know locals and often more of the hidden gems in a location than just the typical tourist sites. They best part is you always had something in common when you stayed with them too!

      I haven’t used it before but I know Couch Surfing is really popular as is staying in AirBnB’s (which is also cheaper than a hotel)

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