My Five Tips for Making Frequent Travel Affordable
Today I'm talking about some learned skills and resources I've discovered recently as my business has grown. A good majority of my work is out of state, so I'm actually traveling quite a bit. A lot of people ask me how I'm able to afford traveling so much, and while sometimes clients and session fees factor into that, I'm honestly not traveling the way most people would on their clients' dime, and I'm definitely not traveling the way most people think.
As my photography has attracted a wider reach, I realized I needed to become more accessible to potential clients living further away from me. My husband and I love to travel, and we definitely wanted that to be something we did together, so in order to keep travel costs affordable for both me and my clients, we have started to implement a few handy tips and guidelines for when we travel. I'd like to share them with you here in the hopes that it helps you realize that (a) a life of travel isn't as unattainable as you think, (b) I work hard to make sure that my far away clients aren't paying an arm and a leg to get me there, and (c) setting your mind to a goal (like traveling for work) and working hard to get there is just a matter of discipline and practice.
tip #1: only spend the money if you have it
In this day and age, it's super easy to feel like everyone is having fun without you, and comparing yourself and your idea of a "vacation" to someone else's is not fair on you or them. Not only do different jobs have different pay and days-off structures, but even beyond that, people value different things! You may feel more of a pull to have the newest phone or a nicer car because it makes you feel more safe, whereas someone else would rather travel through Europe and spend the next five years driving a junker. That's totally fine!
Matt and I decided long ago that we wanted to make travel a priority, and we have a special category in our budget for setting aside money specifically for travel. We like to be spontaneous, but only when we have the money. So we'll keep saving and saving, and following a few different travel deals companies, and if the right thing comes along, then we have the resources available to quickly make that decision to go ahead and book!
If you're having a hard time finding a way to make travel work in your limited budget, consider a few alternatives to setting aside some income, like earning some extra income! I love talking about side hustles and running my own business, so reach out to me if you have any questions.
tip #2: check for deals on flights
Flights can usually be one of the more expensive parts of a trip, so I put a lot of priority on finding good deals on them. I'm subscribed to over 10 promotional airline email subscriptions, and resources I really recommend for finding cheap flights are Pomelo Travel and SkyScanner. I actually have a paid subscription to Pomelo Travel because I get first dibs on new flight deals, and it's earned it's worth back over and over again.
tip #3: travel with friends or to friends
Another pricey part of vacationing or frequent travel can be the hotel stays. If you're not traveling for business, and you can't write off or use a business expense account for this part of your travel, it really adds up and can inhibit how often you have adventures. My husband and I love using Airbnb as our go-to resource for finding a place to stay in whatever city we're traveling to. We also consider whether we know anyone or can get in contact with a friend of a friend at our destination who would let us stay with them for a night or two.
You can also make plans with a friend or someone who is headed the same way to get group rates or split the cost of your accommodations.
tip #4: prioritize experiences over food
We love to eat, and we know that sampling local cuisine is a huge part of traveling, especially to exotic locales! Where most of our travel is to other cities in the US, we like to prioritize the opportunity to take in the sites instead of eating at famous local diners and things like that. We'll still eat fancy a couple times during the trip, but one of our first stops when we land and get to our new home for the next few days is stop by a grocery store. We almost always grab bread and stuff for lunch meat sandwiches, some apples, some crackers and granola bars, and any other on-the-go type snacks that don't require a lot of preparation. This saves us A TON and this shopping trip is usually under $20 and lasts us the whole trip.
tip #5: know your limits and the time you can be away
I touched on this briefly before, but figure out your days off ahead of time (or if you're lucky like me and make your own schedule, check in with others that you have responsibilities to and determine how often you can be gone). Budget your time just like you budget your money to make sure that you don't get burnt out from traveling too frequently. We've learned that our limit is 4 days for a trip. After we've been gone more than 4 days, the trip isn't as fun anymore as we get antsy about getting back home to our bed, other responsibilities, and our normal routine. We also know that we can get grumpy if we're traveling too often in one month, so we plan ahead to make sure we're not gone too much of the month, and we don't have trips lining up back-to-back.
One last thing I want to touch on is the "glamour" that everyone assumes is involved in a life of travel. As much as I love it and as fun as it is to vacation, remember that it's not always going to happen as perfectly as you planned, and that travel itself does not define your success. Don't get hung up on the perfect pictures to document your trip, or keeping up with the Joneses in where you travel and how often. Take trips for yourself and to experience things with your family as a way to make memories.
Which of these tips speaks to you the most? What travel tips would you share with other readers?