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How To Find Money for Travel (& the Secret Behind How I Afford to Travel So Much)

how-to-find-the-money-to-travelTravelling is my favourite past time of all and luckily I’ve found a way to do lots of it. Last week I explained how I find time for so much travel while working a full-time job, and today I’ll explain how I find the money for all this travel, as we all know that travelling can be an easy way to burn through savings. As I’m often asked this question I thought I’d give you idea and pass on some of my tips so that you can travel plenty too and not be constrained by budget.

1. I have a stable monthly salary

A lot of full-time travel bloggers struggle to make ends meet and live near the breadline for their art. (It’s the classic conundrum – how to make a living from something you make available to the public for free?) I’m not one of those full-timers and I’m not even one of those bloggers who work in the travel industry in marketing or PR. Not speaking from personal experience, but I’ve heard from numerous people that the travel industry is not a lucrative one to be in. I work in a completely unrelated, but well-paid industry which gives me enough cash to splash on travel. An obvious way to afford more travel is to find a well-paid job that provides enough disposable income.

2. I don’t have a shopping addiction

I don’t have endless credit card bills for clothes and beauty treatments as that’s not what I enjoy spending money on. By not lusting after designer handbags and the latest fashion trends I end up with much more to spend on travel. Don’t get me wrong, I make sure I look presentable in public and I don’t sport an unkempt look, but I don’t go overboard on it either. If you do have an addiction to spending money on something like clothes, then you need to decide which is really your priority and which you’d rather spend your money on.

3. I travel for work and tag on weekend trips 

In 2013 I was lucky to have six separate work trips abroad: Prague, Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich and Johannesburg. With flights already paid for, I always stayed another few days to make the most of it. After Johannesburg for example, I took a whole week off to spend in Cape Town with some colleagues, a trip I couldn’t have afforded if I were paying for the long-haul London-Joburg flights as well. If you don’t get to travel with your current job, then make it a must-have criteria for your next job.

4. I’m a diligent saver

Ever since I set up my Cash ISA aged 16, I’ve been obsessed with saving. I just love seeing the pounds and pennies accumulate into something real and tangible. I then only touch those savings for something specific that I really want, like a post-graduation holiday in Sardinia or flights to Hong Kong and Bali. Each and every month on the day you get paid, instead of splurging straight away, transfer however much of your salary you can afford into a savings account, preferably one without withdrawals or which doesn’t have easy access. By doing it straight away after you’re paid, you’ll gradually get used to living off less and then reap the benefits when you receive the interest.

5. I go on family holidays

I’m lucky to have two lovely, generous parents that still take me on family holidays, which is how I’ve managed to go sailing around Greece and Turkey, go skiing twice in the French Alps and spend long weekends in Paris and Pamplona during the last two years since graduating (and how I’m heading to Iceland in March!). If you still have family holidays offered to you then grab onto them with both hands!

6. I stay with friends to save on accommodation costs

A benefit of having friends all over Europe is you have lots of people to visit, providing the perfect excuse for a trip abroad! And if you’re lucky then they’ll have a spare sofa/bed for you to crash on. This was often the case during uni and was hugely helpful in keeping costs down, and staying with friends is normally lots more fun than staying in a hotel.

7. I enter lots of travel competitions

And I mean lots. I’ve developed quite a skill for winning travel competitions and in the past year have won trips to Edinburgh, Malta, Padua and of course that incredible coast-to-coast trip across North America with DoubleTree by Hilton. And while not strictly travel competitions, I’ve won two work competitions to attend the One Young World summits in Johannesburg and Dublin. What’s my secret to success? All of these competitions require effort – either through writing specific blog posts or in the case of North America, Joburg and Dublin through recording, editing and posting video entries online. Most people never bother to put in the effort and apply, thereby making the odds on these competitions much more favourable. And there are lots more competitions out there than you’d think, you only need look…

8. I’m a travel blogger…

This last trick is not so easily replicable. Since entering this world of travel blogging I’ve been invited on a fair few press trips and other wonderful trips that are either totally or partly free-of-charge. While they’re free in monetary terms, they are always given in return for services rendered: a review in a blog post, coverage in my social media, photos, publicity, etc. They’re not actually “free” trips, they’re instead a form of payment for the work I put into maintaining this blog. And importantly, I spent an entire year working on this blog before I received anything at all “for free”. It is by no means a given that travel bloggers will receive free trips, but I’ve been lucky. I’ll be honest and say that this blog The Well-Travelled Postcard has allowed me to travel a lot more than I might have otherwise been able too…

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Beyond these 8 tips above for finding the money to travel and how I afford to travel so much, I could of course spend days and days writing about how to book cheap flights, find affordable accommodation and the like, but a lot of that is common sense to most people by now. If you have a particular question in mind then leave it in the comments below and I’ll try my best to answer it!

What are your other tips and tricks to find money for travel? How do you afford to travel?

15 Comments »

  1. I could relate to so much of this! I don’t habe any interest in designer labels etc and beauty treatments either and in fact, I’ve had a similar post about how I afford to travel sitting in my drafts for more than a year – just trying to find the time to squeeze it into the publishing schedule! Great work on the competitions – where on earth did you find them?!

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    • How to afford to travel is something everyone struggles with and everyone wants to know about! And the travel competitions seem to pop into sight on Twitter, or land in my inbox, and I have been very lucky too!

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  2. Thanks a lot for this and the post about finding time. I’m also travel-obsessed but sometimes thwarted by my 20 days a year holiday allowance and my kind of average salary. I have to admit I was secretly wondering how you manage it all!

    But you’re right that there are loads of sneaky ways to save money on travel:

    choosing destinations where living costs are very low, searching for the cheapest flight you can find on Ryanair and going there (I did this and ended up having a fab trip to Denmark for about £50 return), finding an Air BNB to stay in rather than a hotel, and making your own meals rather than eating out, for example.

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    • Glad you found them both useful! 20 days of annual leave is tough, but another option to stretch them is to take half days… I’m actually heading to Copenhagen in two week so am very pleased to hear you loved it so much and that it doesn’t cost a fortune!

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  3. I totally agree about work trips. I managed to get a day free in Tokyo in November tagged onto a work trip, I’d have love to have stayed longer but unfortunately I had to get back to England to actually do some work on the thing that had taken me out there but one day was fantastic and something I’d have never had the chance to do otherwise. Also, travel locally. You might not be able to afford a fancy weekend away but there are lots of places within a short-ish train ride that would do for a day or weekend trip on the cheap. Travel doesn’t have to all be far-flung destinations.

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    • Japan’s a country I’ve never visited so am very envious of that! And you’re right, minimising transport time give you more time to spend in the place you’re visiting, good point.

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  4. Like you I also don’t have a shopping addiction, for which I’m very grateful(!), but unlike you, I don’t have a stable monthly income. However, I still employ pretty much all these other tricks (staying with friends and also Couchsurfing to make new friends) is a great way of being able to afford travel. I’ve also definitely found that some places I’ve travelled with my husband (Bolivia comes to mind), we ended up spending less than we would have living in London, our original hometown! Sure, it’s easy to spend a lot of travel, but I think it’s definitely a myth that it’s *always* expensive.

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    • Completely agree, there’s no need for travel to cost the earth. It’s about knowing how far your money will stretch in different places and balancing that with the level of comforts you’d like on the trip. What I earn in one month in London, for example, equals what I spent in 4 months backpacking around Asia in 2008! I know prices have gone up since then and we were definitely slumming it, but it’s definitely food for thought.

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  5. Most of the above you mentioned require years of planning, or being born to the right family…I know you are in the UK but fortunately for us in the US, there are very generous travel credit card offers if you have good credit score. I applied for a few each year and last year I was able to get 4 trips out of 5 air tickets for almost free (still need to pay a few bucks of taxes). I even got to fly first class int’l and stay in five star hotels. Check out flyertalk or just google “how to earn lots of airline miles” and you will find a ton of resources.

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    • That’s true, I am lucky. Building up airmiles takes time too and I’ve been meaning to research the credit cards that offer airmiles, we have those here in the UK too although I don’t know if they’re as generous.

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  6. Some great points VST! 🙂 Here are some of mine:

    1. Win trips! OK – easier said than done, but so far I’ve won a trekking trip around California, a weekend break in Newcastle, a one night’s stay in an East London hotel and a private jet for 49 friends to Stockholm!! Enter competitions that require a photo, a witty one-liner or ones being run at private events as then the odds of winning are greatly increased.

    2. Stop buying the daily Starbucks coffee or at least not so many of them. 227 working days x £2.50 = £567.

    3. Have a money jar. Mine’s a glass demijohn for anything 20p and under and when full will probably contain about £400.

    4. Go on local trips! Surprising how much there is to see and do within a 30 mile radius of home.

    5. Get lucky and have work send you to one of their international offices. I asked and managed to get 2 months living out in New York.

    6. Think whether you really need that latest 50″ TV or can you be perfectly happy with what you’ve got? 🙂

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