Whenever we say we make a living from travel blogging, almost everyone immediately imagines us lying on a beach, sipping cocktails as we spend a couple of hours writing an article.
BOOM, instant money (or so they think!). The truth is actually very far from this as Tom and I work very hard on Adventure In You. When it first started, we would work 8-10 hours a day building it. So yes, we may lay down on a hammock once in a while, but we also work hard.
Some people email us saying they envy our luxurious lifestyle and whenever this happens, I cannot help but giggle. Currently, we make only enough to survive, and unfortunately, it takes a lot more work than just lying down on a hammock while typing for a couple of hours. Yes, we travel a lot, but trust me, our travel style is far from luxurious. Just to get to where we are, we took 4 flights, traveling for a total of 26 hours.. Why do such a long route? Three words. IT WAS CHEAP.
To us, travel is not always comfortable. We are not rich and definitely budget hard in order for us to see and do as much as we can.
We eat street food, sleep on friend’s couches or sometimes, even on strangers couches (yay for couchsurfing!). We take long bus rides instead of flights, we try to stay with locals instead of fancy hotels, and we often take the cheapest route possible-even if it means traveling for 24-30 hours. Why you ask me? Well, I will let you in on a secret.
Traveling Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive!
Traveling is now no longer just for the wealthy. Yes, the fact that we don’t have any responsibilities and can afford to gallivant around is a privilege, but we realized that traveling can be done very cheaply and all you have to do is get creative. So to those that want to travel but are afraid of the costs, read these reasons on how we can afford to travel and find out how you can too.
Travel Slow And Be Flexible
Contrary to popular belief, traveling slow is actually cheaper. You take the pressure off getting from one place to the other as quickly as possible. More than often, we opt to take the cheapest option in regards to transportation-even if it means a couple more hours spent in transit. So what if you have to spend 30 hours on a bus ride? After all, traveling is not about the destination but the journey. Traveling slow also allows you to get to know the locals.
When we were in Indonesia, we were eating in this small warung (small family run store) almost everyday. A giant plate filled to the brim with vegetables, and all sorts of other Indonesian delicacies cost no more than $1.50. Because we travel slow, we don’t mind spending a couple of days getting to a place. We take our time for each destination, which in return, gives us so much more flexibility in saving money. We’ve hitchhiked, walked in the rain, and even sat in buses filled with chickens. Our point is, we suck it up and opt for the cheapest routes when traveling.
Travel slow. Give yourself more time to get from point A to point B. This will give you time to look for cheaper options when it comes to transport.
In most places, if you stay for longer, they are willing to give you discounts. Take the time to get to know the place rather than just rushing off to the next destination.
Use Your Skills
With today’s growing sharing community, people can now travel without having to fork out as much money. While on the road, we’ve met people who have been traveling by exchanging their skills and services. They work in hostels as reception staff for a couple of weeks. In return, they get free accommodation and food. We’ve met people who have taken professional photos and videos for hostels/hotels for free lodging. As bloggers, we usually exchange a couple of nights for accommodation reviews or even for social media help for budding businesses.
There is literally a plethora of things you can do for other people. Currently, we are in a small town called Olon, Ecuador. Tom and I wanted to learn Spanish but the prices of the lessons were not in our budget. We made a proposal to the owner of a language school where we would feature them on Adventure In You and teach English to the local community, in return for some Spanish lessons. Win-win situation for everyone! All you have to do is identify a need, and make them a proposition. There are some websites that help you find work while traveling like Help X or Woofing. You meet great people along the way, while keeping your overhead cost low.
Please Note: If you are a blogger only recommend companies and people you yourself trust and have worked with. Do not just recommend something for money. Be open and honest. This is exactly what we do here on Adventure In You!
Know your skill and make use of it!
- Trade photography for a free tour
- Ask for a commission if you can convince more people to join the tour
- Help a small business set up their social media accounts
We’ve Cut Down on Unnecessary Costs
Since we’ve made a commitment to this lifestyle, we’ve changed the way we look at money and spending. We keep our costs to a minimum, no longer finding the need to spend $3 on a cup of coffee in starbucks (Well at least I have…Tom on the other hand…is working on it!). We are currently renting a room in a hostel which has the most amazing sea view for less than our living expenses when we were living in Manila.
We have access to the family kitchen where we cook our meals. Although you can get away with eating meals for $3-5 each, it’s still cheaper and way healthier to cook at home. In fact, one of my mini accomplishments this week is going to the market all by myself and managing to get everything that I wanted despite the language barrier. Although the whole market might know me as the crazy lady trying to act out “where can I buy shrimps?”, I still got what I wanted in the end. Identify what your priorities are and be willing to cut out the unnecessary expenses. In Asia, you can eat in a relatively cheap restaurant for $5-6.
Which is great, but if you compare it to the fact that you can eat an equally delicious bowl of noodles from the street for $1, you can save $4. Multiply that by a month, saving you at least $120. $1440 in a year…just from skipping out on 1 fancy restaurant meal a day. We usually balance it out by having a cheap lunch so we can afford to splurge a bit on dinner.
Trust us, the small things count.
We keep track of our spending using the Trail Wallet App. It was made by travelers for travelers. Although recording your daily expenses can be tedious, once you get the hang of it, it’s awesome! You can see which areas you can work on. For us it’s always the entertainment costs, I mean who can resist 1 or 2 beers after surfing? When in expensive countries, cook or have picnics! Opting to not eat in restaurants has saved us a fortune in Europe! (READ: How to Survive Europe on a Budget)
- The small expenses add up
- In Asia, stick to street food
- Cook whenever you can.
- Say no to that cup of Starbucks coffee.
- Keep track of your spending
Split Costs and Look for Deals
Ever heard of the saying the more the merrier? What it should be is the more, the cheaper! Tom and I often look out for fellow travelers who might want to split costs with us. Just the other day, we stopped in the middle of the road to ask if two girls wanted to share a cab with us. It didn’t matter that the cab ride was only $1.50. Because they joined us, we only ended up paying $0.75-between us! Backpackers are always willing to share and split costs because if there is one common trait among everyone, it’s usually the fact that we all try to travel as cheap as possible!
When I was traveling solo, there would be some places that didn’t have dorm rooms (Hello, Indonesia and Philippines!). You can either get a double or twin room for yourself, of find a random fellow backpacker to share a room. Not a problem since everyone is thinking of how to share costs! If you look for deals, you will find out that sometimes, when traveling in a group, it will be cheaper to get a family room rather than a dorm room. In an expensive country? In Europe, my friend and I did a big grocery shop, cooked some pasta and fed around 12 people in our hostel. The cost? Less that $2 each.
- Look for people to split costs with
- Look at cooking “family meals” in hostels
- Doing a tour? Ask more people to join!
So whether its saving a couple of bucks by couchsurfing, or helping a small hostel set up their social media accounts, there is always ways on how to travel cheap because traveling doesn’t always have to be expensive!
So no, we haven’t exactly won the lottery, nor are we super rich. We can afford to travel because we choose to spend money on travel. When we were living in the city, we rarely ate out and skipped out on going to dinners and drinks with friends (unless if they were in someone’s house!). I haven’t gone clothes shopping in years-which my closest friends can attest to as they can see me still wearing things from 3-4 years ago. Why? Because instead of choosing to spend our money on those things, we choose to travel. To explore new cultures, meet new people, and make memories along the way. After all, that is what life is all about right? Opportunity is out there. All you have to do is be brave enough to pursue it!