3 Lifestyle Decisions to Make for True Budget Travel

The first thing about true budget traveling is making a few choices about your lifestyle. You don’t have to be rich, or even upper-middle-class to circle the globe a few times in your lifetime. You can live just above the poverty line – literally, that’s been my life for over 15 years, and I’ve been to 37 countries in that time, while mostly only making about $1200 more per year than the American poverty threshold – and still do it.

You have to make a couple of decisions about how you will live, though. A couple posts back, I gave a snapshot of what my spending life generally looks like. You can take some hints from there.

You don’t have to be single for them to be effective – I’m married now, and still living mostly the same way.

You do, however, have to be willing to sacrifice some of the instant gratification that so much of the Millennial generation and Gen Z is used to demanding, thanks largely in part to current technology.

Instead, you can choose to do these things and have a healthier, happier life that also allows you to travel a whole dang lot.

1. Choose to Live Within Your Means

Living within your means looks like several things:

  • Not having a bigger, more expensive car or house than is realistic on your income
  • Not using credit cards apart from building credit
  • Limiting the number of pets you own
  • Focusing on essentials in purchases, rather than extravagances

2. Choose Your Splurges Wisely

While you absolutely don’t want to waste money on crap you don’t need, it is okay to sometimes splurge on yourself, your spouse, kids, or friends. But you have to choose those splurges wisely. Instead of giving your kids everything on their Christmas list, for example, choose one or two moderately priced things and then focus more on experiences like watching a classic Christmas film by the fireplace and building lasting traditions.

3. Choose to Be a Little Uncomfortable Sometimes

I hear your groans. But this seriously has saved me some major money, both on travels and at home. Sometimes conveniences are too expensive to justify. If you have to talk a few extra blocks or even a mile with your suitcase to save that $50 on a cab, do it, if you’re able.

These little inconveniences free up money for the things you actually want to do – like take that $100 day-trip to Wicklow County from Dublin. Which is more worth it? A short cab ride round trip, or a day exploring the country side on your layover in Dublin?


Hillside stop on Wicklow Co. tour, Ireland


I’m not saying be stupid or unsafe. If you need to take a cab to navigate the dangerous part of town to get to your hostel on the other side, by all reason, do that! But instead of focusing on being a tiny bit wearier after your flight, remind yourself that a little bit of adventure can save money and add some intrigue to life. Some of my best adventures have happened because I walked from the bus instead of grabbing a cab.

Make the Decision to Live Adventurous

All of these decisions open up your opportunities, your wallet, and your life to having adventure and seeing more of the world. I’m not saying I’ve done it perfectly – I’ve definitely made some mistakes along the way. But I have seen more of the world in 15 years than most people do in a lifetime.

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