Tips to Roadtrip on a Budget
How do you afford your lifestyle?
Where do you get the money for your trips?
Do you come from money or have a sugar daddy?
How do you get sponsored for your trips?
As you can imagine, these are the questions I get all the time and the answer is very simple. It’s not rocket science. I am not sponsored (although that would certainly help fund my adventures). All of the trips I have ever done come out of my own pocket (with 1-2 exceptions). The key is to SAVE and travel on a budget! I don’t travel for a living, I travel simply to feed my curiosity and fuel my soul for adventures.
Traveling on a budget means:
I don’t spend my nights in a fancy hotel, rarely even a 3 star motel. I sleep in the mountains or in the car. I spend all my nights for my hiking adventures either backpacking (sleeping in a tent) or in a car (international traveling is different though, I do splurge a little more because I’m in a foreign country). There are lots of ways to eat cheap on the road/ in the backcountry, but my favorite is ramen! If this is something you’d like to see a separate post for, let me know in the comments below.
Most of my adventures are road trips so typically I only pay for food, gas, and possibly permits if required… & once in a while, a car rental depending who my travel partner is.
I have not flown to many other states for adventures because I have not found it necessary:
- Flights and car rentals can be expensive, and sure I can probably try to find a sponsor but…
- I’m a spontaneous traveler and plan my weekend trips on a whim, and…
- There’s so much to see within a days drive (willing to go anywhere from 4-11 hr drive) that I’m not at a point where I feel the need to fly further to enhance my hiking and travel experience.
Don’t get me wrong – it is nice to once in a while and I would do it more given the right opportunity, but if I was doing this every other weekend, there’s definitely no way I could afford to travel like I currently do.
Preparing for Travel:
Tips for Saving
Let me ask you some questions:
How many times a week do you eat out? Do you buy lunch everyday?
How many times a week do you go out drinking or to happy hour?
How often are you online shopping from your desk at work?
Do you have cable? Netflix? Spotify premium? Other luxury monthly subscriptions?
Well for me, the answer is zero. I might treat myself to one lunch and/or one dinner every week, but I basically try to save every penny for groceries and gas… and milk tea boba (this is my only terrible daily addiction and money pit).
Let’s say you eat out every day because you’re tired from work – understandable. You spend $20/day on food ($10 lunch + $10 dinner which is a stretch for LA’s standard of living) – that’s $100 for the work-week! There goes gas money for a weekend trip!👎
& all the monthly subscription services… are they really necessary? Do you really need it? It adds up. Listening to 30 secs of commercial between your music isn’t going to kill you… but it will save you $10/ month which can cover one quick meal on a road trip!👎
One other thing to take into consideration – do you have a gym membership? If yes… do you actually use it?? I know so many people that have memberships and might go once or twice a month if any at all. Personally, a gym membership is worth it for me because I go every day that I’m home… but it’s an expensive monthly service if you’re not going at least once a week.👎 Plus, studies have shown that people who exercise outdoors are a lot happier than those who workout indoors… just something to think about.
I’ve said this many times but everything you want to do and see is within reach if you put in the time and effort – it all comes down to how badly do you want to go?
This way of traveling is definitely not for everyone and not how I ever imagined I’d enjoy spending my leisurely time as an adult, but if you’re following my journey, chances are… this suits your lifestyle too 😉
It’s rugged… but I promise it’s worth it <3
As far as having the time to travel… the same logic applies: how badly do you want to go? Be sure to check out my other blog:
10 thoughts on “How I Can Afford to Travel”
Great blog, even more respect for you because your doing it on your own. Hope you continue to wander and expierience many more adventures in the future. Your one of my favorite follows. Take care.
Thanks so much, James! Definitely going to continue to wander and explore for as long as my bank account will allow me to lol, hope you’re getting out there too 🙂
Love this! I follow a lot of the same tactics for weekend travel. I would love to read a blog post about food on the road! I am always looking for new ideas!
Hi Sarah, glad to hear you do what it takes to get out there too 🙂
I’ll work on the food post but would also love to hear any ideas you’d like to share as I’m constantly looking for new quick meals too.
Thanks for sharing. 😊
Thanks for reading 🙂
Hi! Thanks for sharing! Great post! And sorry if this is too personal, and you don’t have to answer. But do you work a full time job as well? I guess it’s on-topic in the sense that do you have to pay rent for a home base vs. real van life? Thanks!
Great post! I always wondered how you did It by following you on Instagram. It all makes sense now and seems very doable. But like you said, it’s all about how bad you want to explore and what you’re willing to sacrifice to feed that hunger. Will continue to follow- Stay amazing!
When it comes to the outdoors the actual trips themselves do not cost a lot of money. Gas and what food (and like you said, you eat ramen)? A permit here and there for like what? $5-20? Yeah some permits like Havasu falls are expensive. It’s the gear that you need that is expensive. Specially quality gear. You probably carry close to $1,000-2,000 worth of gear during backpacking trips. If you were to add all the money for gear you’ve spent since the beginning of your hobby it would be in the thousands. What someone spends on a plane ticket backpackers spend on a quality Patagonia or arc’teryx jacket. The question isn’t where do you get the money for trips, it’s how can you afford the gear required for a particular weather at a particular location. And yes there’s discounts, sales and research. I think we need to be more honest about how costly having this hobby actually is. There’s a lot of videos that do explain this and some are even honest that they (young people in their 20s) get help from their parents. There’s not shame in getting parental help.
I completely agree with everything you said: there’s no shame in parental help – I now live at home, rent-free and it’s great! When I lived away from home, I picked a place that was cheap rent because I wasn’t willing to put a large % of my paycheck into a place to live, hence why I moved back home too.
I accumulated all of my gear years ago when I first started backpacking (& you’re right, it’s at least $1k+). How I could afford all of my gear very well ties into all the same efforts I’ve listed that allow me to travel the way I do now. I saved paycheck, didn’t eat out, didn’t go out socially drinking, didn’t shop on other stuff, no premium entertainment monthly subscriptions, etc, all because I prioritized saving to purchase my gear. Once I got my gear set down, the cost of traveling the way I do NOW is minimal. Also, there are so many budget-friendly gear options to still travel often; paying for premium products (ie Patagonia, Arcteryx) might be nice to have if one could find a way to afford it, but it’s certainly not a necessity if all you’re looking for is to go hiking/ camping/ backpacking.
Also, this blog post was to answer the question of how I can afford to travel as much as I do, because it’s a question I’ve received countless times. I’m not saying how I choose to live my life and spend my money is applicable for everyone trying to live a travel lifestyle, it’s just what I’ve found works for ME.