Traveling On A Budget – Magical, Unforgettable, Cash-flowed Travel

Priorities And Your List of Dreams

Traveling has always been a priority for me. When I was about 12 years old, I received a daily email with an inspiration. One day the inspiration was, “see everything outside your front doorstep through a tourist’s eyes”. I’ve loved that and try to keep it in mind.  (Here’s how to get a budget started with your dreams, what matters most to you, in mind.)

Cash Flowed Travel

(Real quick – what’s cash-flowed anything? Cash flowed means something that has been saved up for and paid for entirely without charging it and without debt.)

I’ve traveled and lived in many places in the USA and also in Japan and Argentina. Travel is something that sets my heart on fire, and I had no idea it would be even more fun now as a family! We recently traveled as a family of six to Italy. A beautiful, cash-flowed trip.

When we were there, my husband and I said, how can we make this happen again sooner than later? We decided our goal was to save up the amount we’d spent on our trip to Rome and put that amount into savings for another trip PLUS we had to save an equal amount to be left in savings, we needed to max out our annual retirement contributions through my husband’s work as well. We decided we’d reassess in 4 to 5 years if we were ready to go back across the pond. Try 3 MONTHS rather than 3 YEARS!

I share this picture because it was taken in Rome, and it captures for me the sheer, intense joy of our time there.

Progress Is Possible

In three months, working hard, hustling, taking on side work, cutting back on our wants, etc. we had done exactly the above (and are on track to max out the retirement contributions this year.) No, we aren’t rich; we aren’t famous. We’ve merely analyzed our bills, tweaked our budget endlessly, and sold, sold, sold stuff where we can and tried to cut out as many wants as possible, while not dramatically tampering with our quality of life.

Something that shocked us was how little the quality of our life was affected by these changes. Click here for ideas on how to cut 7 monthly bills without cutting your luxuries. 

Frugal Travel

Airline Tickets

Traveling on a budget doesn’t have to be drab traveling. No way! It just means making a little more effort and thinking a little outside the box. For example, we bought airline tickets through Norwegian Airlines. They are the cheapest tickets for the greatest service we’ve found flying to Europe. However, you have to pay separately $45 per meal per person. They welcome you bringing on your own food for free though should you prefer. So a couple nights before we flew to Italy, I went to Target and Aldi and bought up the least expensive, easy to pack, filling snacks I could find. I stuffed an entire backpack with those snacks, and we even drew from them throughout our time in Europe to supplement the items we picked up there.
(I hear WOW is also a great place to search for good prices on tickets.)

Discounts On Museums And Transportation Passes

I did research – a lot of it to find the days that museums would be less expensive (but be careful there, because going on a Free Admission day can really knock the experience, if it’s free, it’s likely to be crowded), asked locals online about the best times of days and discounts ahead of time, like if I knew my kids wouldn’t want to spend many hours at a certain art museum, I learned that if we went an hour before closing, admission would be 50% off.  I did transportation comparisons on passes for public transport vs. renting a car. All of this can be done with just a small bit of effort online ahead of time.

Also, if you’re going to most places in Europe or the Middle East, I recommend renting from the library any and all DVDs by Rick Steves. He also has the most helpful guidebooks. We rented his materials, and ended up purchasing one of his pocket guide books (which included a map) to bring along with us. I highly recommend that; it was really helpful!

Luggage

Remember when calculating the costs, that most airlines now charge for luggage. Be sure to investigate every detail of this before you travel. I contacted Norwegian Airlines Live Chat a number of times to be sure I had it just right, so we’d be charged the least possible, yet have all the luggage we needed for comfortable, convenient travel.  We used backpacks and purses and then one paid for checked piece of luggage for our family of six.

On Prime Day we found these for I believe $25 out of pocket. Best deal ever! They roll like a DREAM.  Can’t wait to use them in Paris! Right now, they’re still on a 70%+ off sale!

Lodging

Booking.com made finding and booking an incredible place so easy! Let me tell you about the place we stayed. We met up with our nanny there in Rome, so we needed even more space. We found a three bedroom apartment, a giant kitchen and dining area and a massive L shaped couch. It was just a two block walk to the Vatican. Right by the metro. Convenient markets and cafes nearby. Beautiful patio. Even a washer and dryer! Can’t recommend using booking.com enough. Click here – to start planning your vacation, with my referral.

Food

Food is the biggest savings we’ve made (saving over $1000/month for food), and it was also one of the simplest ways to save while traveling. I prefer to find a place with a kitchen or at least a microwave and refrigerator. I buy groceries nearby and make as many home cooked meals as possible, helping boost the budget for spending and indulging on a few really special local restaurants for the others. Though those restaurant meals are considerably more expensive than homecooked meals, they are very much a part of what I want my kids to get to experience of the new culture we’re immersing ourselves in for the duration of our vacation.

We can save money by saying NO to the things we want NOW so that we can say YES to things we want MOST. For us, travel is one of those “MOSTS.” And it can be done! You can make the memories of a lifetime on a budget! As Rick Steves says, “Happy Travels!”

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