“Bring half of what you think you need and twice as much money.” – Reader’s Digest 1949
How have I changed throughout my years of traveling? I actually bring MORE clothes and even more money. My 20-year-old self backpacking through Europe wore the same five articles of clothing for six weeks. I didn’t even bring pajamas. My clothes got so filthy that white clothes turned grey and beige clothes turned black. By the end of the trip I was throwing my panties away. Also, none of the clothes matched. I took people’s advice to bring less clothes much too seriously.
At that time I was also very reluctant to spend money. We spent as little money as possible, but in Europe that’s hard to do. It meant that we were spending a ton of money just getting by and missing out on experiences because we weren’t shelling out just a few more dollars a day.
My advice: Know what aspects of travel matter to you and spend your money on that. I’ve learned that I care about drinking coffee everyday and I enjoy the occasional tour. On road trips I want to book hotels on days when it’s wet and cold instead of opting to camp. I save money on food by buying groceries and cooking myself while saving to splurge on occasional meals out. I also save on transportation—I will always choose the slowest most crowded option as long as it’s cheapest and I have the time.
Others might choose to eat out for every meal because cuisine and quality is important to them. Some people find camping and hostels impossible, so they spend more on booking hotels every night. And still others find the whole thought of travel and planning daunting, so they choose to book all-encompassing tours.
My point is, know what is important to you so that when the time comes to make decisions, you’re not worrying about the money. Years later when you look back on your travels, you’ll want memories of joy and not memories of rusty money.
Below are some money saving tips because I am still the gal who wants to stretch her dollar to travel longer.
MONEY SAVING TIPS
Road Trips: If you’re down to camp, I cannot recommend Freecampsites.net enough. This website is our best friend when traveling cross country. It’s set up like a wiki map, offering GPS coordinates and information for free places to camp across the country. Many times it is on government land, other times they’re simple pull offs in the country. During our two month road trip in the summer of 2018, we camped 35 nights and only paid for one site.
Almost all the sites are primitive, so you need to pack it in and pack it out. Bring your own water and toilet paper! Some sites will have fire rings, picnic tables, and even pit toilets. Keep an open mind and you’ll fall in love with it just like we did. Here are some of our favorite spots: