How We Afford To Travel

Every once in a while, I talk about our upcoming trips and get a bit of a side-eyeing comment. “It must be able to afford to go swanning off all the time!” The truth is, neither of us are particularly good at saving—but we make it work, because we love to travel. Here’s how we do it.

1. We earn good money

Let’s not beat around the bush here. There’s no point in pretending that it all comes down to savings when our household income is six figures. It would be the height of arrogance to claim that “anyone can do this!” We chose to live about an hour away from where we work, where house prices are drastically lower than in the city. Even when taking into account travel costs, we still come out on top. And while we also have debt—a student loan, personal loan, and mortgage—being double income no kids means we have the disposable income to pay our debt down as well as put funds towards travel.

2. Layby flights

This is genius and I wish more places did this. STA Travel here in New Zealand let you layby flights with a $99 deposit and pay off the balance four weeks before you depart. We did this with our trip to the USA last year, and again with our planned USA trip later this year. Booking ten months in advance, $3,500 in return fares is suddenly $350 a month—a much more manageable and less terrifying number!

3. Give every dollar a job

This is one of the core rules of You Need a Budget, aka My Favourite Budgeting Software Ever. Instead of budgeting the required expenses and letting everything else go wherever, resulting in overspending without noticing, we give every single dollar a job as it comes in. We can assign goals to categories (so if I want $1,000 spending money in the account before our trip, it will tell me if I’m falling short!) and have visibility over where we’re at.

4. Stack up our trips

We live in New Zealand which, while one of the most beautiful countries in the world, is approximately 66,000,000 miles from absolutely anywhere else. Just for the two of us to fly to Australia is rarely under $1,000 return. However, once we’ve gotten somewhere more central, it’s much easier to tack more destinations onto our hub. Last year, for example, we spent 36 hours in Washington D.C. in the middle of our Los Angeles trip. When we finally backpack around Europe, we’ll probably have a stopover each way. Stopovers are an amazing, usually free, way to see some extra sights!

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