How Much to Spend on Travel

spend-on-travelI’m always a bit caught up on what to spend on travel. After all, we’re saving for different financial goals in life. But I feel like travel is probably among the larger discretionary expenses that most of us incur.

I’ve done more than my fair share of traveling recently, especially this year. I’ve taken about 5 weeks to travel, and I’ve gone away on 20 or more weekend trips on top of that (yeah, I’ve rarely been at home on weekends).  I’ve spent around $5,000 on travel this year (the bulk being my trip to Spain), which is about 20% of my income this year (remember I was earning less than minimum wage for the first half of the year). But it’s all been totally worth it, and I don’t have any regrets about not saving that money instead.

What else to save for?

I always feel like I need to be saving more, but always find myself thinking “what exactly is the something else that I am saving for?” I guess it’s for “retirement,” which is really hard to imagine and get excited about when you’re only in your mid-20s. If I saved everything that I would otherwise spend on travel, I’m sure I could have a nice nest egg for retirement. But what am I going to want to do once I retire someday? I’ll probably want to travel anyway!

At the other extreme, it clearly doesn’t make sense to just spend everything you have right now so you can “live for today.” While some argue that “life’s to short” and you should enjoy what you have while you’re young, I don’t think this necessary gives you a reason to be reckless with money. I often feel that people that say things like this are broke and aren’t necessarily living out their dreams, either.

The key is to find a balance between both of these extremes. Just about everyone wants to do some traveling now, but most people don’t want to be broke their whole lives just to be able to travel either.

Using travel money wisely

If you’re going to spend money on travel, you might as well make it worthwhile. To me, traveling is about the experiences and the amount of time I can do it, and not necessarily how much I can cram into one or two trips. Here’s a few ways I’ve stretched the amount of traveling I can do on the travel budget that I have:

  1. Travel slowly – transportation is often the most expensive part of the trip. If you’re taking a train, flight, or bus every day, the cost is going to add up. Try to enjoy more time in the same location and you’ll be able to stay longer on the same amount of money.
  2. Keep cost of accommodations low – I stay with friends and family whenever possible. When I’m abroad, I’m happy to book cheaper accommodations wherever I go because I know I won’t be spending much time in a room anyway.
  3. Go off-season – we did this in Cancun this year and not only did we save money but it was much more pleasant to avoid all the crowds
  4. Avoid the most touristy spots – the places where everyone goes are often more expensive and not worth the price tag, either.

Paula has some other great tips about how to travel the world without spending a lot.

Do you track how much you spend on travel? Are you happy with the amount of travel you get to do?

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photo by: me! (from Alaska, where we stayed with family for free 🙂

Comments

  1. We decided this year to start spending more on travel for the next few years at least.  My kids are 10 and 5 which means the 10 year old is still ok with hanging out with her parents and the 5 year old is old enough to not be a huge pain while traveling.  You know, he doesn’t need all the baby stuff anymore.  

    So I feel like this is our window for some cool family vacations. 

    • That’s a great plan. Thanks to my Mom, I have some awesome memories of family vacations I took when I was younger. I think it’s definitely important to kids, and it’s shaped the way I view travel and life now.

  2. The amount I spend on travel varies, but I love to travel so it’s often quite a bit 🙂

  3. Groot artikel .. Nou ik kan zeggen om te besteden aan reizen is volgens iemands zak. Men kan het zich veroorloven een luxe villa in de vakantie waar een ander kan alleen maar een huisje te verblijven inch Dus voordat je op vakantie moet men een investeringsplan maken volgens de eigen behoefte en interesse hebben.

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