Is traveling for everybody! Sure. If you really want to travel, there are ways on how you can do it.
Let me tell you about my background. I started traveling sometime in 2015. At that time, I’d just shifted into a new career so my income was as good as that of any fresh graduates — which is to say, it wasn’t very much.
That saying, I was still able to visit 15 provinces in the Philippines in that year alone. At the end of the year, I compiled the trips and Hali and I published this blog.
For experienced backpackers, this isn’t something new. In fact, there are travelers who are able to go on multi-country trips for months on a stretch. For me, it was a big achievement at that time because I didn’t know I could go to places as long as I manage my funds correctly.
For newbies to traveling, I hope this can give you tips for the future. Here are my top tips to afford traveling!
1. Make travel a priority
You know what they say: “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” You will always have bills to pay and social invites to go to, hip restaurants to try and so on. So how can other people travel frequently, while others can only do so once or twice a year? Simple, make it your priority.
A few years ago a friend invited me to El Nido (Palawan) and asked that I prepare a budget of P8000-10,000. I thought it was expensive then, so I declined. I’d instead spent my money on food tripping in various restaurants in Manila (I had a list of good-rated restaurants from TripAdvisor and food blogs), shopping for clothes and Friday night drinking sessions. So you see, back then I had a different view of what’s worth spending money for.
Today, if I have a trip coming up, I keep a weekly budget and only buy necessities. Yes, it’s a little sacrifice but again it’s about making and keeping priorities.
2. Plan DIY and backpacking trips
Travels and tours are convenient, but not always necessary. Most destinations in the Philippines can be visited on do-it-yourself trips. You just need to do a little research and read about budget guides, contact tourism offices or other people, and you’re good to go.
It’s also helpful to keep things basic.
Unless you’re aiming for a comfortable staycation, forget expensive hotels. You’ll save a lot more by staying in cheap homestays and accommodations.
You can also bring a tent, if you’re staying overnight on a beach.
3. Look for a travel buddy
I don’t really belong to a particular travel barkada, excluding Hali and my co-volunteers in our outreach group. I used to worry about having no one else to go with, but I always manage.
How? I go online to look for travel acquaintances. There’s a lot of Facebook groups nowadays that cater to the travel community. Post an ad ala Craigslist in one of these.
If you’re in the Philippines, the best groups you can visit are Backpackers of the Philippines and DIY Travel Philippines. If you’re backpacking in Southeast Asia, there are specific groups for that too. If you’re a woman and looking for other female travelers, you can go to Girls Love Travel.
(I used to look at forums in the early days too, but forums have declined nowadays. Facebook is where it’s at.)
4. Join voluntourism trips
Hali and I had been to a handful of voluntourism trips locally, where we organized outreach programs and explored the area at the same time. You can read about our voluntourism trips to Sorsogon and Siargao.
Traveling is cheap with voluntourism because you always travel in a big group. In our experience, we also get free accommodations by fellow volunteers who have homes in our destination or locals who support our work.
That saying, voluntourism is a controversial subject especially if you plan on doing it abroad. The type that we do is relatively simple because we organize everything ourselves and there is no middle-man who may profit from it. We coordinate directly with the LGUs of the community to ask about their needs and how we can help. Our work is mainly about giving supplies, especially to school children.
If you plan to volunteer abroad, make sure to do your research first so you’ll get a clear idea on its pros and cons.
5. Start locally
We all want to get on an airplane and travel the world, but let’s be realistic. If you’re on a limited budget, your best option is to travel locally.
And that isn’t a bad thing! In the Philippines, there are so many places to see that you can schedule a year’s worth of trips and still have plenty left to see.
If you’re living in Manila, you can visit nearby destinations, such as Laguna or Batangas. Or you can discover staycations in the city.
6. Adopt a minimalist living
Minimalist living means living with essential items only.
People do minimalism in varying degrees. I’d chosen to do it a while ago as part of my spiritual journey since I want to focus on the important things, but I’ve realized that it helped me in budgeting too!
I slowly removed things that are not necessary in my life. I’d stopped frequenting Starbucks and other expensive cafes (except on social occasions), I’d donated a bunch of dresses and other clothes that are occupying space in my wardrobe, I now think twice or thrice before purchasing something (“Do I really need this?”, “Will I be able to use this regularly?”, “Will I regret buying this?”).
I learnt that there’s a lot of things I can do without. I removed so much clutter in my life (literally and figuratively) and I’d started saving money which I use for my incoming trips.
If you’re interested on how to start on minimalist living, here’s a guide that I found on minimalism for beginners.
7. Aim to increase your earnings
There are only so many things you can do to save money. At one point, you need to increase your income to travel — especially abroad. I remember an advice I read: Don’t think that you can’t afford what you want, think about how you can afford it.
There are so many things to do this, depending on your occupation or business. I suggest looking at side hustles, such as online freelancing jobs because these are in-demand nowadays. You never know, you may even find one that can make you a digital nomad so you can work on the go!
Those are my tips on how to afford traveling! Do you have something to add? Let me know in the comments section below!