How to Save Money for Travel Even if You’re Flat Broke and Living Paycheck to Paycheck

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“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” – Jack Kerouac

Long-term traveling is a lifestyle that is more feasible than one may think.

Today we live in a society where it’s quite common to live outside our means, acquire debt, live paycheck to paycheck and not be financially stable.

Alex and I aren’t rich monetarily. We don’t have some ghost of a backer funding our travel. We’re not sponsored. But we somehow manage to travel at least 8 months out of every calendar year. How do we do it? It’s simple. We are simple people who live simple lives and prioritize so that we can roll around in our 16 year old van drifting with the wind living a life we believe in.

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In love with life at Canyonlands National Park.

 

If you’re serious about wanting to travel long-term, read on for all our money-saving tricks!! 

 

EATABLES

  • Stop buying drinks. And I mean anything that isn’t water. Included in this is alcohol, coffee, flavored waters, soda, juice, all of it! The above list doesn’t give you any added health benefits so you’re literally just liquifying money and flushing it right through yourself. Believe me, water is enough.
  • Limit yourself to eating out once or twice/month for special occasions. The amount of money that you pay for a meal in a restaurant isn’t worth it. On average, the markup for all restaurants (from hole in the walls to your swankiest joint) is about 4x the price of raw food ingredients. Click here for proof.
  • Set a grocery store budget and stick to it! Find the joy in throwing together ingredients to make healthy dinners on your own and relish in the joy that YOU COOKED IT! We cannot begin to express the success we feel by making our own fuel to keep our bodies running. Not to mention, we’ve saved quite a bit of money by learning to cook with just about anything!
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Breakfast on the road. Healthy, easy and scrumptious!

 

HOME SPACE

  • Are all rooms occupied in your home/apartment? If not, think about renting an extra room out to a college student or set up an airbnb rental for the extra room(s). Most folks think that airbnb is only for full homes but you can earn good money by listing a room for rent!
  • Do you sing in the shower? Try cutting your water bill in half by taking half as long showers or by showering every other day. Trust us, it won’t kill you and you won’t smell any different.
  • How much are paying for TV and Internet? The average price for Internet and television is $132/month. If you don’t believe us, click here for proof. Our radical advice is to throw that mind-numbing box out the window and read a book, play an instrument, talk to the other people in your house or some other activity. If you can’t live without the internet in your home, opt for ONLY internet, not television. If you must watch your TV shows, pay $8/month for Hulu or Netflix with your monthly internet subscription.
  • How much is your cell phone bill? Remember when we all didn’t have cell phones? Remember just a few years ago when data plans were basically obsolete? Remember when we had to log on to a computer to check our email? Today, the average American’s cell phone bill is roughly $110/month according to Gazelle. I’d like to hear anyone’s argument that a block to check Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and update Instagram is worth $110/month! Alex and I share a cell phone that I got 7 years ago with no data plan. We use it to phone home and for emergencies only. Hey, we’re still kicking it and still apart of the modern world!
  • Sell your junk! One man’s junk is another man’s treasure right?! I’ll make a gander with you and say that you don’t NEED every little thing in your living space. Heck, Alex and I live out of our van and we could still downsize. Selling your stuff can make some real cash, real quick. Less than 1 year ago, I sold most of my excess and made a few thousand dollars on eBay. If I can do it, so can you! Here’s a little inspiration to sell your excess stuff.
  • What do you drive? Evaluate your gasoline lifestyle. How many cars do you have in relation to the amount of drivers in your household? Sell the extra car(s) if you have them. If you’re paying for a lease, stop that and buy a pre-owned reliable vehicle. If you’re making payments on a new car, do the math and see if you can pay cash for a pre-owned option. Unless you have the extra CASH to throw around (I’m not talking about taking out a loan), there is no reason why you should be rolling around in a new pimpin’ ride. There are plenty of reliable, pre-owned vehicle options out there that cost a fraction of what a new vehicle does. Plus, your insurance will be much cheaper in a pre-owned vehicle.
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Packed up and ready to hit the road! We sold our car, bought a van, made the van our home and all for under $3k! Read more about it HERE!

 

THE EXTRAS

  • Ohhhh the extras. I’m going to keep this short and sweet. If you’re saving to travel, there should be no extras. NADA! No mani/pedi dates, no new release movies in the theater, stop going to the hair salon for $100 cut&colors, etc. It’s the little extras here and there that we don’t think amount to much that really kick us in the butt! If you’re an impulse shopper, stay away from places that get you “in trouble”. It will be worth it, trust me.
  • Make your own fun! Instead of going out or buying entertainment pull out a deck of cards, go for a hike/walk, read about something that interests you, the list goes on! Have fun doing what you love without shelling out the money for it!
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Making our own fun – Rappelling from Looking Glass Arch (185 ft).

We’re currently on a 8 month roadtrip across the American West! Never miss out on a new post and “like” us on Facebook! For more photos and stories from our nomad lifestyle, follow us on Instagram!


75 thoughts on “How to Save Money for Travel Even if You’re Flat Broke and Living Paycheck to Paycheck

  1. What a wonderful post!! I have been slacking this past month and this has encouraged me to stick to my strict budget so I can travel more! Thank you!

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  2. Hi there, thanks for the amazing article. I’m trying to get into these habits. Baby steps. I’ve never been out of my country before (South Africa) and the only travelling I’ve done was 2 or 3 two weeks holidays down to Cape Town, travelling from Johannesburg. My biggest hurdle now is getting rid of all my debt, and me and my partner are saving for a Peru holiday towards the end of 2017.

    Ultimately, I would like to one day be able to do what you do, not just travel for a holiday every now and then, but be able to travel for months on end.

    I have a question though, how do you manage with monthly expenses? Living in the van means no rent and such, but money for food and other necessities, where does it come from? Do you make money on a month to month basis, or do you set up savings before the travelling starts?

    Thanks again for a great article!

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    1. Travel your heart out Cheryl it’s totally possible!! 🙂

      You are on the right track with cutting out the debt. That seems to be the number 1 travel killer as it weighs you down, sucks your money, and gains interest. We both will work for 4 to 6 months at a time and we will work our butts off. During that time we save every dollar we can and live frugally. Finding cheap rent or no rent at all during the time we are working also helps us save a bunch of money.

      After we have saved enough we travel to our half-way planned destinations! Planning what and where you want to go saves time and money. Keeping on a weekly/daily budget saves time and money. This applies weather traveling or not..

      Hope this helps thanks for stopping by, hope you can keep up with us!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for clearing it up!

        What types of work do you do? I know the work situation, inflation and everything will be different depending on the various countries, and something that allows you to save over there won’t necessarily work in SA.

        The reason I ask stems from my own insecurity of leaving a “steady” job to travel, and worry if I’ll find something else when I return….

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      2. No worries! The type of work we do changes every work stint. We try and make at least 10+ an hr a each job we end up working. Having a steady high paying job is important and needed for some folks lifestyles and goals. We happen to be living a life style that does not require a steady job right now! Our upcoming work stint will need to last 5 to 7 months for our future goals. Hope this helps!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I love that you have goals for your work! I think too many people work because they think they’re supposed to, have no goals, and fill up the empty spaces in their lives with “stuff” and then wonder why they feel empty. I also only began to feel at peace with my job when I was able to link it to my goal of becoming a professional cyclist.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you! That makes sense. I will, at some point, get over all my insecurities about income and a regular paycheck. Lol.

        Besides my need to travel, everything else about having a “steady” job is starting to grind me too… I like to say I’m an artist at heart. I feel like one, but I don’t live like one. Instead of pursuing some awesome, creatively charged career, I’ve been stuck in boring desk jobs doing admin work for more than a decade, always thinking I’m leaving one job for something better but they all just turn out the same. An event at work last week made me realize I can’t keep living like this, it’s killing me.

        So, I’m putting effort into getting passive incomes going, something I can do from anywhere. Like painting and creating artworks. So that I can finally start making my own rules without being confined to an office 9 to 5. It would be a start, at least!

        Sorry for the rant… But thank you for listening. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It sounds like you’re ready for it Cheryl! It just takes one step at a time working toward your goals. When we got to where we wanted in life, where we were wholeheartedly content living each of our days to the fullest, we couldn’t believe how easy and simple it was the get there! Of course, looking back is always easier than forward in some respects.. Best of luck to you, we’re rooting for ya!

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