6 Money Saving Hacks You Haven’t Thought of to Travel Longer

PAPER.

That’s really all that money is but yet it rules our lives like Evil King John from the 1200’s. We’ve been living a financially responsible life on the road for 3+ years and have met many kindred spirits along the way each striving for dreams in the unknown. It’s difficult to say but a lot of the people we meet are not financially stable and have downright awful saving (therefore spending) habits.

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Smile bigger because you don’t need to stress about your finances – Read on Below!

Whether you’re a full time vanlifer, casual weekender, destitute by choice, or working hard to fund the next few months of travel, these saving tips apply to everyone!

  1. START A BUDGET AND KEEP TO IT! This is our hands down most important piece of advice – It will take a few weeks to dial in but trust us. Begin by writing down every little purchase you make in a weekly planner. Keep track of your spending week by week and total up your money spent into categories. Our 3 categories that we spend in are gas, food, and other (automotive  stuff, laundry, showers, etc). After a few weeks, go back and honestly evaluate where you can cut down your spending. Set a budget goal to keep your weekly spending in check while continuing to record all purchases. Everyones budget will be different but we get by on $500-$600/month for a family of 2 humans, 2 dogs and 1 van.
  2. COOK ALL YOUR OWN MEAL. We grocery shop 2x/week setting a budget of around $30 each time. Seek out grocery stores that specialize in low prices or discount markets that sell dry goods with damaged packaging. We then scour the sale racks, the day old bread, the *almost* expired meat and dairy items, etc. We cook with 90% organic ingredients and only eat grass fed meat and dairy products raised in a humane environment. In other words, we are very picky with our food standards but still manage to keep our budget because we don’t go to the first grocery store we see.

     

  3. PLAN YOUR JOURNEY WISELY. Get a map and know how to use it. Pinpoint your stops on the map to create the most economical way to go from point A to point BCD. It’s also helpful to plan things out in Google Maps where you can see the different route options. This is very important especially if you are traveling in areas with higher fuel prices. Look at mileage in the sense of how much it will cost in gas. For example, if you want to go to Point K that is 60 miles out of the way, that’s 120 miles round trip. 120 miles at averaging 20 miles/gallon with gas at $2.50/gallon will cost you $15 (120/20=6 gallons of gas. 6*$2.50=$15) Sometimes it’s worth is, sometimes it’s not. Plan accordingly. Driving hilter skilter and everywhere will cost you, just determine how much.
  4. EVALUATE YOUR BELONGINGS AND SELL WHAT YOU DON’T NEED. We’ve written about this point before and our opinion hasn’t changed over the years. If you’re living in a small space (van, camper, trailer, tent) you have limited space. Clean up your space and sell the excess either at a local consignment shop or craigslist. We are constantly putting gear and clothing that we no longer use up for sale at second hand gear shops. After an item sells, a check is mailed to our permanent address and that funds future travel.

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    If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t come with.
  5. IF YOU’RE A CREDIT CARD SWIPER, SWITCH TO CASH. It’s been proven time and time again that using a cash only system will help you spend less. Credit cards have great incentives like building miles and cash back bonuses but that sometimes causes folks to justify their sometimes erratic spending habits. Getting in credit card debt is not worth any nominal reward the credit card companies entice you with. By using cash, only withdraw the amount to will be spending that week. Under no circumstances do you withdraw more money when you run out. Learn to live with your spending consequences and keep yourself under check. If you have extra at the end of the week, treat yourself or just apply it to next week’s budget!
  6. FIND FREE ENTERTAINMENT. We spend our days rock climbing and hiking 95% of the time. Both of these two incredible activities are free after the initial gear investment. If you like to go to concerts, enjoy a few drinks in the evening, go to the movies, or pay for other entertainment that is totally fine. Instead of going hog wild on everything and anything that sounds fun, limit yourself to one or two excursions/month and plan it into your budget.

A little self-control and self-sacrifice goes a long way! Live below your means financially and chances are you will find yourself in whatever paradise you’re dreaming of for much longer than expected!

Do you have any saving hacks? We’d love to hear about them in the comment section below!

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Want to follow along? Check us out on Instagram for more snaps from the road!

 


27 thoughts on “6 Money Saving Hacks You Haven’t Thought of to Travel Longer

  1. I did all my traveling for free when I was in the Navy. I did it while I was young. It was a good thing because the world’s fun when hormones and appetite work efficiently. My mother waited until she was old and sick to travel. I don’t recommend this. Go when your young.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Did all of those things, and lived in a van travelling around Europe for a year. It was 1988-89, and our budget – £10 (about $15 then) a day for the two of us, including fuel. We stuck to it, and managed the year to the day. We came home broke, but satisfied.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. With no internet back then, my account of the trip stayed in my diaries. But now I’m putting some of it on my blog.

        I’d love to do a similar trip with my present husband, but he’s not too keen. So, there will be adventures in Britain this year, but the camper is unlikely to make it across the channel.

        Like

  3. Amazing post! So simple but still usually forgotten tips. I have to admit that my biggest problem is definitely using a credit card. Impossible to keep track how much you are using money because the money “doesn’t disappear”. In fact, I just returned from New York and have been too scared to check out my balance for this exact reason… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d say “let me pack a bag and take me with you guys,” but I’d have to attach a travel trailer for all the books I swore I’d read this year. Hmm…
    Well, not buying more books this year would help save for getting out and about (and finding new and awesome places to hang–or read–at).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We’re book nerds to the max! Since we haven’t found a “traveling library card” we buy books at either Goodwill, thrift shops, or used book stores for a buck or two. Usually used book stores buy back books too so we get away with essentially trading already read books for new ones!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great advice! For most of my life I cooked the vast majority of my meals, but for this past year I HAD to buy already prepared food (I won’t go into why here). I can’t believe how much more expensive that is than cooking for yourself.

    Also, I do have one suggestion for how to save money while traveling: ask the locals! Talking to the locals about how they got the most value our of their money helped me a ton while I was in Belize this past summer. It led me to much cheaper (and better) housing options than I would have found by looking through travel guides.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! The locals always know best! Some of our most memorable experiences have been going to a little known place that a local has told us how to get to, usually by obscure landmarks and “turning by the big tree when the road bends to the right”. Merry Christmas Josh!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely. I don’t know what your experiences have been like, but when I was preparing to travel internationally, the advice I got gave me the impression that I shouldn’t trust local people; that they’ll have malicious intentions for me. I found that to be the furthest thing from the truth.

        Like

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