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How You Can Afford To Travel The World

How You Can Afford To Travel The World

After traveling to over 40 countries and learning valuable ways to travel hack, I have learned one important rule: you do not need a lot of money (or have a high-paying job) to travel. Many people are hesitant to travel, and hold themselves back from possibly some of the most epic adventures because they think that they can’t afford the costs of traveling the world. With a few simple rules and tips it can be entirely possible to travel short or long term with little income.

In any case, if you’re going to travel the world, you’re going to need realistic financial planning. How much are you going to save? What is the minimum you will need to get you where you want to go without starving or feeling stranded? How do your finances look for when you return home? These are all essential questions to have thought out before one departs on a long trip, and the following guidelines can help you get set to afford to travel.

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Set a Travel Goal

First and foremost, create a travel goal and stick to it. By mapping out what your expectations are for your trip, it’s more likely that you will work towards it on a daily basis. Think about the length of the trip and the type of experiences you hope to gain. For instance, a goal can be to backpack through South America for three months on a $1,000 per month budget, or to live in an eco-village in India for several months. With your travel baseline goals outlined, it’s easier to plan for what needs to be done to get there.

Start a Travel Fund

Unless you plan to use prior savings, you’re going to have to save some cash to pay for your travels. Even if you only put $200 into a travel fund every month, that’s $2,400 you will have saved up in one year. On top of that, anytime you come across extra cash, put it into your travel fund. The more you’re able to contribute to the fund, the more you will be able to stretch out your budget and ultimately make your trip more flexible and enjoyable. This takes financial responsibility, and by making a commitment to yourself to not tap into those savings you will reach your goal sooner.

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Get Your Finances in Order

A couple of months before you are due to travel, make sure to get every single one of your finances in order so that you are not accumulating late fees or paying for things you simply don’t need while you’re abroad. Call your car insurance company to let them know you won’t be driving your car and have them freeze your account until you return. If you don’t plan to use your cell phone on your trip, you can ask your service provider to also freeze your account until you return so you’re not paying for a monthly plan that you will not be using. This goes for wireless internet as well. For student loans or other bills you can’t get around paying, make sure to have enough money in your bank account to continue to pay them. Make sure you can log in and pay all of your bills online using a credit card, or set up auto-pay if you think you might not have access to the internet for extended periods of time.

Take Advantage of Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses

The single most expensive portion of your travels is likely to be your plane ticket. One of the most valuable travel hacking tricks I have picked up over the last couple of years is signing up for a co-branded credit card to earn free airline miles. By getting a new card or two each year I have been able to cover almost all of my flights using airline miles earned from the sign-up bonuses offered with the cards.

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Many travel rewards credit cards have a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points, which is enough for a free, round-trip flight to almost anywhere in the world. When you sign up for a credit card that does have a bonus, you usually have up 90 days to meet a minimum spend requirement, which can be $1,000 to $3,000. The minimum spend is easier to meet than you’d think, and on Well Traveled Mile there are a lot of creative suggestions on how to do it. By earning rewards points you can easily save $1,200 on a trip by not paying for an airfare.

Cut Back on Conveniences

It’s true, we all love our conveniences and luxuries, but if you cut out many of those you will save more money than you would think. Sure, watching shows on demand is great, but in the age of the internet there is really no reason to pay for expensive television programming, especially if you’re looking for ways to afford to travel the world. Instead of buying a $3 cup of coffee, make it at home. Live close to work? Then save money on gas and ride your bike or take the bus to work. Think about all the small, daily expenses you could live without, then do it.

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Cutting back on these expenses will save you more money than you’d think, and once you realize how much money you’ve been spending it will be easier to fight the urge to spend when it’s not needed.

Research Alternative Accommodations

The bottom line is that in today’s well-traveled world, anywhere you travel to you’re likely to find an affordable hostel and they’re usually clean and well kept. By staying at a hostel you can easily find fun and safe accommodation for $10–$15 a night. My favorite sites are Hostelbookers and Hostelworld. It pays to compare prices for the same hostel, and you can often save a few bucks by booking through the cheaper website. Couchsurfing is another option available and provides free accommodation for travelers who create an online profile and request a couch. The benefit of Couchsurfing is that it offers users the chance to have a local experience with their host. My other favorite site for finding cheap accommodation is AirBnB, and on a recent trip to Puerto Rico I was able to save $40 per night by staying in a studio listed on AirBnB instead of a hotel.

Featured photo credit: ©Connor Bleakley via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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