Please Stop Asking Me How I Afford to Travel

afford to travel, iceland, iceland adventures, iceland national park, hiking in iceland

Travel. When you really think about it, travel is probably one of the few words in the English language that can make people feel a range of emotions, depending on how they feel about the idea behind the word. Travel can feel exciting, daring, nerve-wracking, and terrifying all at the same time. For some it’s a passion and for others it’s simply a task they have no interest in.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to have the ability to travel to so many parts of the world. My travel bucket list is long and never ending, yet each year I look forward to a new and exciting adventure. Lucky enough, it’s an interest I share with many close friends and a topic of lively debate amongst those same friends.

On the flip side though, over these past few years I have noticed that conversations around travel have at times taken a turn for the negative. Statements like – “Well I can’t afford to travel because I have student loans to pay….” and “You must make a lot of money to be able to travel as much as you do….” to my personal favorite question “How can you afford to travel and live in Chicago? Do your parents help pay for it?

In case you are wondering the answer to that last is questions is a firm NO. My parents have not paid any of my bills since I graduated college in 2010.

How I Afford to Travel to Mexico, Traveling to Mexico
Please Stop Asking Me How I Afford to Travel to Iceland
{left: Mexico, 2015 | right: Iceland, 2016}

Honestly it’s that last question that really gets to me the most. It’s a rude question. Why all the assumptions that I’m wealthier than you, don’t have any bills to pay, and live off my parents income?

I do understand the curiosity of the question though. Travel, while exciting can also bring on anxiety, stress, and jealousy due to the finances needed to make it happen. So how do I afford to travel on a big-city-living single girl’s income?

  1. Travel is a Priority

    At the end of the day the answer is pretty simple – I prioritize travel. Travel always has been and will always be at the very top of my priorities list. Therefore, I find ways to make all aspects of travel, from the logistical to the financial, a end goal with the choices I make in my daily life.

    When something or someone become a priority in your life, it’s easy to find ways to make it fit into your own world. If it ever starts to feel like a chore, it no longer becomes a priority and you should drop it as fast as a hot potato. (P.S. Does anyone use phrases like that anymore??….)

  2. My Money Motto: “Outta Sight, Outta Mind”

    I’m no stranger to the fact that in many cases, it’s the cost of traveling that can be the the overwhelming problem. Last year, I wrote an blog post about the The Best Financial Decisions I Made In My 20’s and it’s those foundational decisions, like the one’s I mentioned in that blog post that have helped me set myself up for life of traveling.

    Budgeting is not fun, however the easiest way to save up money for travel is to automate your savings. Create a budget that allows you to set aside any amount of money toward travel. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, even $5 will do. Now you automate the savings of that that money to a new savings account dedicated to your traveling goal. When you don’t see that money in your checking account, you are far less likely to spend on things you don’t need.

    I personally have been using Smarty Pig for years, however I’ve also heard great things about personal finance apps like Digit and Simple.

    How to Afford To Travel to Spain{Spain, 2010}

  3. Embrace Your Entrepreneurial Side

    In this day and age, almost every single financial related article will tell you a side hustle is the key to financial freedom. I’m constantly finding a variety of ways to bring in extra cash into my pockets, that’s dedicated to my travel fund.

    My key to success in the side hustle business is to not overthink it. Don’t expect to be raking in a huge amount of money from your side hustle, start small. In 2016, I picked up change off the streets, I actually found $43 worth of change in 2016 just by picking up change off the sidewalks during my walk home from work, sold old clothes that I no longer wear on websites like Poshmark & Ebay and picked up a few babysitting jobs. Every single penny of that money went directly into my travel savings account.

    Have a talent for calligraphy or drawing? Teach a Skillshare class and make a few extra bucks teaching others your talent. The possibilities are endless and every little bit helps you reach your savings goal.

    4. Become a Puzzle Master

    Traveling the world can get expensive, but the reality of that statement is that higher travel costs are almost always associated with a convenience factor. The trick with saving money and keeping travel costs lows is by becoming flexible in your planning and making your money work for you.

    More popular destinations around the world, like Paris & London, will come with a cost. However if you expand your horizons, you’ll see that this world is filled with amazing destinations that are far more budget friendly. Countries like Taiwan, Colombia, and Hungary are great travel destinations where the dollar has a lot of value.

    Still interested in those more popular cities and countries? Learn to hack your travel like a puzzle master. Websites like Momondo and travel apps like Hopper & Skyscanner are out there to help you book the best possible travel at the lowest cost. Take some time to figure out how to use them, and soon enjoy you’ll learn that with a few simple hacks, you can really save some money.

Can you afford to travel to Paris?
Affordable Travel to Amsterdam
{left: Paris, 2010 | right: Amsterdam, 2010}

So if you’ve added “travel more” to your resolutions this year, truly do everything you can to make it happen. Everything is possible in this world as long as you are willing to really work for it. Hopefully these tips help you achieve your travel goals this year.

As for me, 2017 is gearing up to be an exciting year. I’m excited to be heading out to Costa Rica with one of my favorite companies, Under30Experiences to celebrate my 29th birthday. I’ve also book a trip to France and Spain for later in the summer, and am currently in the process of planning a quick trip to Greece.

So where to do you plan to travel this year?

Can't Afford to Travel? Poland may be your best destination!{Poland, 2000 // pre-dslr photography days}



  1. January 26, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I can’t “afford” to travel because of bad spending habits I had in my 20s, had I been smarter, I’m sure I would have been able to find room in my budget to travel more than I have! Now that I’m getting closer to digging myself out of my own hole, I hope to start traveling for more than just other people’s weddings! I appreciate these tips.

    • Monica
      January 26, 2017 / 7:44 pm

      Hey Maggie,

      I do hope you get a chance to travel to places you want to visit this year. You’ll have to let me know if you book a cool trip!

      – Monica

  2. January 27, 2017 / 9:44 am

    LOVE this post! You keep traveling the world, girl! And we need a Greece meeting soon 🙂

    • Monica
      January 27, 2017 / 4:56 pm

      I can’t wait to see Greece with you! #tagalongfriend

  3. January 27, 2017 / 10:23 am

    Absolutely love this post! I plan to travel more and these are great tips on how to afford it! I use Digit never heard of Smarty Pig but I’m looking into it!

    • Monica
      January 27, 2017 / 4:55 pm

      Thanks so much Fenique! Hopefully I’ll see you around town soon 🙂

  4. Connie
    January 27, 2017 / 1:13 pm

    You’re so right, Mon! It has to be treated as a priority. You’re always so disciplined about it – I have much to learn from you. 🙂

    Great suggestion about the automatic savings!

    • Monica
      January 27, 2017 / 4:55 pm

      Thanks Connie!

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