indulging · travel

How to Make Travel More Affordable

Go Gingham: Travel on a budgetWhile I’m away this week on a home exchange to Victoria, British Columbia, you’ll find guest posts from friends. This is a guest post from Erin and Jeff. They’re married and the creators of the budget-minded travel blog, A Week or A Weekend. They love to travel and have lots of experience traveling for a week or a weekend.

We are two lucky, lucky people.  We’ve traveled to 33 countries, four continents, and 38 US National Parks.  But we’re not wealthy.  In fact, we’re both teachers.  While we do get a lot of time off, almost all of it is unpaid.  Spending money on travel while not getting paid could be a problem, but we make it work.  If you’re good at budgeting your money and living frugally (but well), travel is probably affordable for you, too!

How do we do it?  We’re frequent flyer mile junkies.  Every expenditure we make is on an airline credit card, but we’re careful to pay the balance – in full – every month.  We try to get the best price on airline tickets possible. We’re relentless about finding deals on rental cars and lodging, using multiple websites.  We make our peace with less-than-luxury lodging.  Clean, safe, and affordable?  We’re in.

But none of our travel would be possible if we weren’t able to save up for our trips.  To help us do this, we have two phrases that we use quite often around our house to help us keep our spending in check.  One is inspired by the travel philosophy of travel guru Rick Steves.  While Rick said “Make do with the old sofa,” we say, “Keep the old couch.”  And we have!  Any guesses on the era of this bee-yoo-tiful blue couch?  If you guessed the 80’s, you’re right!

Don't replace your couch and travel more!
We got this couch when we were first married in 1989!

And it’s holding up pretty well.  But we say “keep the old couch” about many other things, too.  Yes, we’d love to have a new Prius (and the heated seats that come along with it), but we’re keeping the old car (a ’97 Civic).  And while we’d love to have a new bedroom set, we’re making do with the one from 1989.  It’s not that we never buy new stuff:  we just got new bedroom carpet underneath that old bed.  We prioritized what we wanted.  The old carpet was in bad shape.  It was making Erin crazy to come home and look at it every day.  It added unneeded stress.  We decided it needed to be replaced.  The bedroom set, however, is really still fine, so we’re keeping it, and now we can use the money we might have spent on new furniture to go to Zion National Park to celebrate our anniversary.

Book: Your money or your life
A great book – check your library for a copy.

Our other go-to phrase (actually, another paraphrase) is one we got from the book “[amazon_link id=”0140286780″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence[/amazon_link]” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.   If you have not read this book and you’re interested in living well without spending a lot of money, you should definitely pick up a copy.  The book has lots of great ideas and strategies for managing your money well.  Some of those strategies are echoed here by Sara quite often!

A line we often repeat from the book is, “That’s a gazingus.”  What in the heck is a gazingus exactly?  Well, it’s something you want, but it’s nothing that you need.  It’s often something you decide you want on the spur of the moment, too.  Sometimes we choose to buy a gazingus anyway, because it’s fun and we want it.  And that’s okay, as long as we recognize that it means we’re giving something else up for it.  But many times we’ll choose not to purchase a gazingus because it is, in fact, not something we really want, it’s just something that’s appealing right now.  We know we can live without it and be perfectly happy…and be able to use that money for traveling!

Here’s a tip that can be applied to the potential purchase of a gazingus.  Thinking about purchasing something on the spur of the moment, something that might be a gazingus?  Wait 24 hours.  Still really want it after 24 hours?  It might be more than a spur of the moment thing, so then you can decide whether to buy it or not.  It’s surprising how often we don’t make that purchase 24 hours later.

iPod with portable speakers
Two of our favorite gazinguses – our iPod and portable speaker (note the fancy cloth doily underneath – a nod to our hostess, Sara).

These two phrases are great reminders for us and they help us afford to do what we love to do — travel. Enjoy your week or your weekend!

This is a guest post from Erin and Jeff. They are married and travel often. They chronicle their adventures on their blog, “A Week or A Weekend” which can be found HERE. Erin and Jeff are probably planning their next trip right now!

How do you make travel more affordable? Do you have any key phrases you use to keep spending in check?

Go Gingham related links:

Our first home exchange is here
Travel packing tips with a PDF chart are here
Home swapping and how to prepare your home for one
Vacation meal planning
Travel tips for a trip or stay-cation around the Northwest
Our San Francisco home exchange –Part I, Part II and
Part III
Save money on your next trip: before and during

Go Gingham Affiliate link

8 thoughts on “How to Make Travel More Affordable

  1. What caught my eye was NOT your old blue couch but the Marquette University throw on it. Have you spent part of your life in Michigan? 🙂

    Enjoyable post–it is amazing what you can do when you make your financial priorities and stick to them.


    1. I’m glad it was the throw not the couch that caught your eye! We went to college at Marquette which is in Milwaukee, WI. But that’s COLD country up there, so I moved back home to Portland, and Jeff came along for the ride 🙂 Thanks for reading! Enjoy your week or your weekend.


  2. Love the idea of a gazingus. I think I bought one yesterday! I can testify that earning air miles by purchasing everything with a credit card absolutely works. It’s how we took our twins and their older sister to Europe twice in 3 years. Great tips!


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