A lot of you ask me how I afford to travel so much and where do I get all the money. I wish I could tell you that I’m rich or that there’s a magic pill giving you infinite money. But, just like weight loss, there’s no magic pills and, at some point, you just got to do it.
A lot of bloggers wrote about their strategies to save money to travel. I’ll add mine to the list and I hope this can help you make the move and travel more!
Let’s start with my “whoo-hoo” tricks and then go to some practical stuffs.
My philosophy: Experience > Possession
After a lot of deception and questioning about the meaning of my life, I realized that my happiness comes from the experience I live and not from the things I own.
I used to spend a lot of money buying clothes I didn’t need, decorating my apartment, and then finding myself at home, well-dressed, in a very cute decor… doing nothing.
I realized that everything I owned made my life boring, so I changed my way of spending money. I now make the choice to buy less and focus on learning new skills, discovering new places and tasting new food.
I won’t lie to you, the first year is the hardest, because changing a habit takes time and discipline. The first year, you’ll feel like you just deprive yourself for nothing. But, the second year, when you’ll make the choice of not buying that expensive dress because you just come from California and you’re going to Rio in 3 months, it will be easier to get the motivation!
Karma: What goes around comes around
I’m a big believer in karma.
Wherever I am and with whoever I speak, I always try to be the best me. I help people freely, I give stuff, I share my appartement with other travellers, I walk them around in Montreal.
With time, I noticed that when you give, you receive.
This philosophy gave me the opportunity to have free accommodations abroad, to learn new languages without having to pay for class, to have a good DSLR camera to take pictures while travelling.
Sometimes, it’s good to make money, but don’t always try to make more money. Try to give at least half the time.
Internet is your BFF
The amount of time I spend on internet is
No matter what I’m looking for, I always check if I can find it for free on internet. Before hiring someone to repair something, taking a class or buying an informative book, please check internet!
I mean, I manage to fix my washing machine by myself with Youtube and, truly, if I can do it, you can too.
“Sharing economy business models emerge from our oldest instincts as humans – cooperation, sharing, generosity, individual choice and flexibility. Models include renting, bartering, loaning, gifting, swapping and forms of shared ownership such as cooperative structures.” (Wikipedia)
This peer-to-peer business model can help you save a lot of cash. By sharing what you possess for a small amount of money, you help others save money too. This system usually function by charging what you would pay for a lodging, car, etc, while you don’t use it. For the one who share, the goal is not necessarily to make money, but to avoid spending it.
The best known example is Airbnb, but here’s a list of what I found with my BFF. You can either provide the service, or use it.
Learning new skills
Skillshare: A free bank of videos to learn new skills. The goal is to let anyone share their knowledge and skills. Their motto: The future belongs to the curious.
E-180: A project from Quebec, available in French and English. Find like-minded people interested in sharing knowledge face to face, one-on-one.
JustPark: Share your driveway or parking spot to whoever needs it.
Uber: Share a ride, like a taxi would do. (Use my link to get a discount on your first time.)
Blablacar: A ride from Bruxelles to Amsterdam for 12€ anyone? It’s possible with this effective carpooling system.
Airbnb: You know this one. It’s THE place to look first to rent a room or an apartment, anywhere in the world. Not familiar with Airbnb, take a look at my Beginner’s Guide to Airbnb.
Campr: Camp with local. It’s a kind of “AirBnb” for camping! You don’t have to provide your camping gear.
Gamping: Connect campers and people with land. You provide your gear, they provide the land.
Couchsurfing: Stay with local for free and make new friends around the world.
Guest To Guest: Exchange your home with someone else while you’re on vacation.
Vayable: Discover a new town, with a local. I wrote a complete post about it: Vayable: An “Airbnb” of Tours.
“I’m too poor to buy cheap”
This was my grandfather’s motto.
Buying quality, even if it’s more expensive, will make you save money.
The best example I can give is my sport pant. I used to buy cheap pants at Walmart for 15$. These pants broke after 2 months and I had to constantly replace them. …that’s 90$ for a year. Now, I buy expensive lululemon pants, but I have them since 3 years and they still look brand new.
Also, it’s eco-friendly!
Stuff you already know
Finally, you probably have already heard of these ways to save money, but a reminder can give you the little push you need to apply them. I personally apply each of these tips:
- Live in a smaller apartment.
- Cancel your TV or Netflix subscription. (Seriously, do it.)
- Unplug each electrical device you don’t use. You’ll avoid “ghost” energy spending. I wasn’t really sure about this one, but it does make a difference.
- Bring your lunch to job.
- Eat vegetarian meals as often as possible. Meat is expensive.
- Bike or walk to job.
- Avoid restaurants.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Treat yourself with a special coffee not more than once a week! (Or keep all the coffees of the year to drink 100 pumpkin spice coffees in autumn. Nom nom nommm)
- Don’t change your technology every year. (I survive very well with my iPhone6 “no S”)
- Compare the price of everything, always.
- Run, do yoga, walk, bike, exercise freely instead of going to gym.
- Okay, if you really want to go to gym and you’re in Québec, there’s a gym for 10$/month.
- Use library or share books instead of buying new ones.
- Share, share, share! Everything and always.
- Keep it natural : minimum hair products, minimum make up.
- Choose a credit card with reward and always pay everything with it. If and only if you know you are disciplined enough to pay it completely every month. That’s how I scored a free flight from Los Angeles to Montreal last year. Yes, free, you read it well.
What are YOUR tips to save money to travel? Let’s share our best advice!
Thanks for sharing so many great links! I’ve heard of about half ot them, but can’t wait to check out the rest. And I think you’re totally right about the experience vs. possessions thing. In the end, I think it all comes down to what your priorities are and remembering them when you’re tempted by something temporary!
Thanks for your comment! You have it right: it’s a matter of priorities.
Ahhh so many awesome websites! Thanks for sharing them! And so great that you mention the credit card!! I put pretty much everything I can on mine and at the end of the year it helps so much! Another great thing to note is rewards programs like AirMiles or what not. I haven’t redeemed anything yet but I’m well on my way!
A lot of people tell me about reward programs, but I’m never able to get the good deals. I know some blogs are specialized in these kind of travel hacks.