Five Ways to Afford Travel When You're Broke

1. Purchase Tickets in Advance
Planning a trip in advance has many benefits. You can give your work sufficient enough notice to get the time off, and you’ll probably beat all the other time-off requests too. But most importantly, plane tickets are significantly cheaper if you buy them six months out. This will cut your airfare almost in half. You can check the prices on apps like Hopper, which will tell you how much your ticket will cost now, versus how much it will cost at later dates. When I purchased my round trip ticket to Spain, I only paid $1,200 – compared to the $1,800 it would have jumped to a week later, and the $2,600 it would have been had I bought the tickets a month before my trip.

2. Make detailed plans in advance and pay throughout the months before your trip. I knew that while I was in Spain there were certain things I would want to do. My international flight put me into Madrid, but I definitely wanted to go to Barcelona and southern France. About a month after I purchased the international flight and my bank account was able to recover a little, I booked my flight to Barcelona. Then next paycheck, I booked my Eurorail tickets from Barcelona to Arles. And the next paycheck I paid for my Airbnb in Arles… etc. I got to have a much better experience with nicer accommodations, without feeling like I was spending an arm and a leg all at once (and let’s be honest, I would have spent that money before my trip anyways, on shoes or chocolate). The credit for this tip must go to my cousin though – who started purchasing a case of liquor per paycheck the entire year leading up to her wedding. The end result was an awesome open bar without the overwhelming bill at the end.

3. Plan your vacation around your paid holidays. One of the things that I did was plan my vacation during the Christmas/New Year’s holidays while also utilizing the weekends. My work gives me Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day all paid off – which meant that I got three extra paid days off. I was able to take an 18 day holiday instead of a 15 day holiday, which was great.

4. Don’t stay in a fancy hotel. Let’s be honest – a major point of traveling is experiencing a new city. So, the majority of your time should be spent outside of where you are sleeping. The entire time I was in Spain I was in the hostel only to sleep or to change into an evening outfit. And My Airbnb was only for a couple nights mid-vacation when I knew I’d need a good bed and a few extra hours sleep to catch up!

5. My Secret Plan. I am really proud of coming up with this one, but it only works if you're poor like me and your income is low enough that you get a tax return at the end of the year. So, a few years ago, I started working at a law firm which emphasizes on tax – which meant that I had someone who was able to tell me how my W-2 works. I found out that you can elect to have an extra set amount of money taken out of your paycheck each pay period. At the end of the year, so long as you are eligible for a tax return, you will receive all the extra money back. Two years ago, I used that option to put aside an extra $25 per paycheck – which amounted to an extra $650 on my tax return. Along with my regular return, it was enough money to buy myself a new laptop and go on a mini shopping spree. Afterwards, I realized that this would be a great way to save up for the most expensive thing on any trip – international airfare.

So there you have it – five ways to afford travel!

Until next time!