I’m sure you’re not exactly being nosey when you ask me this. I’m sure you’re just genuinely curious about how you can do the same. You mean well, you just wanna know what my secret is. Am I sitting on a pile of money? Do I have some kind of hookup at the airlines? How the hell have I visited 26 countries in 4 years? How?
Despite knowing that you are well intentioned, when you you say things like:
“What do you do for a living that you can travel so much?”
“How do you afford to travel so much?”
This is what I hear:
“Girl, what exactly is yo take home pay per month?”
“Ma’am, what is the Adjusted Gross Income on your 2016 taxes?”
“Lib…keep it real…are you ghost writing for Cardi B?”
And here’s how I usually want to respond:
“GET YO HAND OUT MY POCKET!”
Thankfully, I don’t do that. Because I know you mean well. But even though you mean well, the question definitely comes off as you out here counting my coins and since I don’t need help counting my coins, it’s off-putting.
Here’s what you really want to know — “Lib, how is it possible to travel like you do without spending a lot of money?” That’s the real question, right? So, let me help you with that:
Let the Travel Gods decide
Aside from my year abroad, my international trips have not been planned trips. I go where the deals take me.
You will more often than not, spend more money if you have a specific place you want to visit if flights to that place aren’t “on sale”.
If you wait for the Travel Gods to rain down a glitch fare like fresh manna from internet heaven, you’ll be blessed with experiences beyond your wildest imagination at a price that looks like a monthly payment on a used Honda instead of like a mortgage payment on a 5 bedroom house.
A few examples: The Travel Gods gifted me with a flight to Abu Dhabi for $230, to Nairobi, Kenya for $450 (some friends copped that deal for $300), to Jacmel, Haiti for $220 and to Lima, Peru for $280.
I don’t roll into a new year thinking “I’m going to visit X country this year.” I roll into a new year praying “Dear Travel Gods, guide me in your boundless wisdom of airline pricing algorithms. Order my stamps in your word. Bless me with the serenity to accept the deals I cannot book, the courage to book the deals I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” By wisdom I mean, the good sense to know how far my coins and vacation days will take me.
Point is, Travel God has a plan let it unfold.
Similar to the above, you’ll need not be rigid about when you’re traveling. A good flight deal may not be on the weekend, in fact, it’s likely that it won’t be on a weekend. It’s more likely you will need to leave on a Wednesday. It’s also likely that it won’t be around a holiday, it’s some random week in February.
The other thing is, you may not be able to fly out of your home city. Atlanta is my home city and I’ve had to fly to New York, Chicago, Miami, and DC to take advantage of some of the deals mentioned above.
When I tell people this, I get an eye roll and a “but then I have to buy ANOTHER plane ticket”. Yes, you do. But let’s do some math, shall we?
A typical flight from Atlanta to Abu Dhabi will run you $900 — $1200. My flight to Abu Dhabi was $230 out of Chicago. Typically, flights from ATL to CHI are $80 — $200. Mine was $230, so all in to fly to Abu Dhabi, I paid $430. Still less than half the cost of flying to Abu Dhabi out of Atlanta. Still winning.
The bonus is, for the continental flights I take to catch these deals, I end up with plenty of points on airlines like Southwest and American Airlines. I end up averaging more than a few free flights a year as a result.
So when you see a deal pop up and it’s not in your city, no pouting. See how much it would cost to get to that city, and stay on the lookout for continental deals too.
Use the deal sites
If you’re not subscribed to some of these deals sites, I can’t take you seriously. You don’t really want this life. But since I’m a nice lady, I’m going to give you a chance to redeem yourself.
Here are some sites you should have on your radar. Subscribe to their newsletters, follow them on twitter, get your life. If there are Travel Gods, these sites are the prophets.
Also use a these websites to search for flights and learn to use them. They are great tools!
Adjust your priorities
You may see me hopping flights but if you scroll through my pics you also pretty much see me rocking the same clothes and shoes. I don’t do a lot of shopping.
Now, I don’t subscribe to the stamps over stilettos mentality, hell I want them both. But, because I can’t afford them both, I choose stamps. You are welcome to choose whichever of these you like (or both) but if you’re choosing the stilettos then what you’re saying is that you can afford to travel, you just choose not to. To be clear, that’s ok, it’s your choice.
But if you are in my inbox counting my coins and wondering how I afford travel so much, just peek down at those expensive shoes on your feet or over at your designer handbag or your bi-weekly manicured nails or your high-quality weave install. That’s how I afford it, I have none of those things. (I feel the need here to reiterate, that I’d prefer to have alladat AND travel…#goals).
At the end of the day, you’ll make travel your priority when you actually believe it’s a priority. But I urge you to give it a shot, forgo something for the next few months and instead book a flight. After you catch that first deal, you’ll be hooked. It’s an addiction, me and my travel friends call it Nomadness.
Free up money for your travel budget
You’ve got more money than you think you do. You just need to uncover it. There are a few ways to do this. I wrote a detailed blog on the topic: Where I Found More Money for Travel. Also, I’m doing a webinar about it as well this Saturday with The Budgetnista, Tiffany O Aliche. I’ll give you a few quick hits from it since this here post is getting long (there are MUCH more tips in the blog post referenced and I know Tiffany will drop some new gems on the webinar)
Free Up Money:
- Adjust your service plans with your cable and cell phone provider or sign up for Billshark and let them negotiate on your behalf.
- Find paid subscriptions that you aren’t using and cancel them. Sign up for Trim, it will do it for you.
Save More Money:
- Sign up for services like Qapital and Digit. Both apps stash away small amounts of cash based on your spending habits. In a month, I stored away $209.10 worth of savings. That’s a flight somewhere!
- Open a savings account just for your travel goals and sign up for automatic deposits as low as $25 every two weeks. You’d be surprised how fast that adds up…to the cost of a plane ticket!
Find More Money:
- Invest in stocks with small amounts of money using apps like Stash and Acorns. You’ll hardly turn into a millionaire, or even a thousandaire, but if you stash away $50 or $100, you’ll have covered a few ubers, a few dinners, and a maybe a massage in the spot you’re traveling to next. Or your flight to the nearest US city to catch a deal ;-)
- Make money whenever you spend money. Ebates will literally give you money for shopping. You were already going to buy a pair of shoes or a plane ticket right? Just grab the ebates chrome extension and you’ll get some money back for what you were already about to do — shop. Also, they’ll give you $10 for signing up. Go get your $10 (that’s two whole meals in Thailand!)
Ok, now that you have the tips, the tricks, the secrets…know this…how much I make is also a secret, so don’t ask me that again. K, thanks, byeee!