The question people ask me the most always has to do with traveling and how I do it so often while having a full-time job. So far this year, I have been to New Mexico for a ski trip, Arizona 3 times, St. Lucia, and a few smaller places here and there for weekend getaways and whatnot. So, how does a gal that works 40 hours a week do all of the above? How does someone right out of college afford that kind of time off? Well, step into my office. I’ve got a few tips and tricks for ya.
1.) Work to live. NEVER live to work. I don’t care how much money anyone offers me, if I am not happy, money means nothing to me. I put my happiness and personal life before any and everything. It just so happens that traveling makes me happy. Lucky for me, my job allows me to work from pretty much anywhere, although I am expected to show my face in the office most days. I take off in advance. I am currently writing this blog on my way back from Arizona, but I requested the time off about 2 or 3 months ago. So when I get back I will request off a couple days for another trip months from now. But letting your boss know in advance helps. I don’t mind working. I like it. It pays the bills and I think I am good at what I do. I have made it clear and known that I am 100% reliable in and out of the office. I take my laptop with me everywhere and am still answering emails when I’m gone. That’s just part of it for me, and I’m okay with it. But I could never, and will never, work for a corporation that limits me to 5 days off a year. That, to me, is absurd and it just isn’t my cup of tea. So for now, I work for a small, flexible, non-profit.
2.) Have back up plan. Have a second income of some sort, something to fall back on for extra cash for trips. It’s hard to pay bills as it is. Anyone working a full-time job in today’s economy is likely struggling to make ends meet, even with 40 hours a week. It’s always nice to have a side gig. For me, it’s turquoise trading. I have a business I run from an e-commerce platform that I can take with me any and everywhere. I am hoping that I can do that full-time one day, but for now, it’s nice to have the side job. Check it out sometime if you’re into funky vintage turquoise and other magnificent gemstones:
This extra cash may be only a couple hundred bucks a month, but you’d be amazed at what you can do with even a hundred extra dollars when traveling. Which brings me to my next point.
3.) Cut spendings. The problem that many people have when traveling, including myself, is not budgeting correctly. People shop too much or eat at super expensive restaurants and use the ol’ “Oh, what the hell! We’re on vacation, why not a spend a little extra?!” excuse. But that’s how you come home behind on bills. That’s how you wind up working over time to play catch-up for a few weeks. I actually calculated how much money it would cost to take a 4-day road trip from Texas to Arizona (my favorite place to visit), and I was surprised to find that, when budgeted correctly, two people could get out there and back for no more than $500, so $250 a piece. How? It’s simple:
- Drive and take a travel buddy, split gas. Take the car that is more fuel efficient. You’ll each spend about $50-75 a piece in gas, round-trip. A flight is luxurious and all, but it’s also going to cost you about $200 or more. I personally hate flying anyway. I feel that airports are ten times more aggravating and inconvenient than just cruising the highway, but that’s just my humble opinion.
- Pack sandwiches and road food. You will absolutely save yourself hundreds if you just throw a few sandwiches, beef jerky, chips and water in the cooler before you leave. Trust me on this. This way, when you get there, you can totally afford the best sushi place in town and a few cold ones to wash it down.
- Limit your shopping. Yup, you gotta swipe less. In fact, I would recommend taking cash ONLY. This way, you can get into the cool museums and see some pretty sweet sights without having to worry about getting to an ATM or balancing your check book later. You can’t go over board if you’ve already pre-budgeted. If you need emergency money, bring your card, but do your best to leave it alone.
- Do free things. There is so much to do for little to nothing at any destination. Hiking, sight-seeing, live music, and even museums cost no more than $10. It’s well worth it and it beats the heck out of spending all your money at the local pub. Get out and go see some stuff, you can drink later.
There are a million ways to budget for a trip. These are just the main things I try to watch when I am on the road so that I still have a little cushion money left when I get home.
4.) Make it quick. When traveling, take several quick trips a year rather than taking one or two super long trips. You can see A LOT in 3-4 days. I take advantage of every single long weekend on my calendar. I have been to New Mexico for a ski trip on a whim because I had a random 4-day weekend and nothing planned. It was awesome. And when I got back, I felt refreshed, accomplished, and ready to tackle the work week. Besides, being anywhere for too long will make a place lose it’s novelty. You want to return to those places eventually, so don’t wear out your welcome!
5.) Stay at an AirBnB. They are so much cheaper, and if you are willing to bunk out in a private room while the host lives there, you got yourself a sweet deal. Sometimes private rooms can be as low as $15-$20 a night. I am perfectly fine sacrificing the luxury of an apartment or space all to myself if it means saving a hundred bucks. Even if you don’t get a private room, you can typically get a whole flat or guest house for about $45-$60/night. It’s all about preference when it comes down to it! I’ve camped out in a tent before to save lodging dollars. It made for an amazing experience and cost me a whopping ten dollars. I don’t mind ditching the luxury, for me, it makes the experience that much cooler. When in Rome, ya know?
6.) Quit making excuses. Too many people talk about traveling and how nice it sounds, but how it’s just not feasible for them for whatever reason. Money, work, kids, dogs, plants, those are all excuses. You have to make up your mind that you are going to find a sitter for the kids or the animals, set aside a little cash from every check, pick a weekend and just go. If you constantly say you can’t afford it, well, you’ve already made up your mind about not going. Even if you just set aside 50 bucks every couple weeks, you will rack up a good amount of change within a few months. You have to be willing to put yourself first and think about the rest later. Yes, pay your bills, but don’t forget that you can always go and make more money. You won’t look back years from now and be glad you DIDN’T take that spontaneous trip.
I am happy to say that in a couple days I will be off to Idaho for work, then California shortly after. In early October, I am taking a trip to Colorado to do some networking with a few other lady bosses, and I cant’ wait! Sure, I have things to take care of before then, and they will all get done. But I have always been a girl who works hard to play harder. I get paid to work, so I work, but I don’t let it intervene with my personal life, and vise versa.
I hope this blog has reached a few people who needed to see it. Traveling sounds so far-fetched for some, but it truly isn’t. You have to have to desire to make it happen; that get-up-and-go spirit. I heard a quote the other day that really resonated with me because it has to do with my whole philosophy as a travel enthusiast, so I’ll leave you all with this quote and hope it resonates with you as well:
“Traveling is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer.” -Unknown