The question I get asked the most is how I afford to travel so often. I love traveling but I don’t get to travel that much because in real life money is not paper like our brothers from the Lakeside city have made us believe. I’m not always even on the road like most travel bloggers I know, but still I’ve been asked “how do you do it?” I know it’s never asked with bad intentions and most people with travel as their hobby ask to learn but sometimes when it’s asked it always almost sounds like “tag your sponsor” 🙂
Apart from cooking, travel is my other hobby and as a result, I run a travel blog. My local travel goal is to visit at least ten different Kenyan counties every year until the day I will have traveled to all the 47 of them and this year I have been able to travel to eight counties so far. Two more to go though I am in no hurry to break any record so I’m always doing it in my own pace. It’s just satisfying and fulfilling for me.
Here are some of the measures that happen on the background before I travel anywhere:
My big solo travels are always planned out and sometimes affordable ones like camping could be impromptu or random but I try to plan and space them out. Our family travels are always all planned and saved for.
After drawing up a plan, next is to come up with a budget. This includes air ticket or bus cost, accommodation, food, visa fee, partying, shopping, drinks, excursions, activities and any other stuff that will involve spending money.
Because I am self-employed, saving is what will always determine whether I’m going for a trip or not. I am so poor at saving and so standing orders always work best for me but for my travels I have a table banking chama, the chama is not a travel chama but the money I contribute there as Eve every month is to fund my travels. I can then always take a loan there if need be or top up from my pocket when I have a serious travel coming up. I have other savings and other chamas but this is always only for my travels. I chose the table banking chama because of the huge interests we get from it.
For family travels, my husband and I have a joint travel savings account. We each contribute there every month. Then we try as much as we can to stay within that budget. In the budget we put in literally everything we know we will do or need during the traveling.
For example; if you know you will be sipping cocktails or popping champagne on a beach somewhere in Vanuatu or Diani or whichever island you’ll find yourself in, including them in your budget and planning and saving for them before your travel will prevent you from feeling any dents in your pocket.
4) Booking everything early:
Never wait until the month of travel to start booking flights or hotels; When you have saved enough to pay the hotel deposit do so, then save again till it’s enough to book your flights or bus then what’s left will be to clear hotel balance before or on arrival, for your stay, transfers and any other things you had planned for. We always book our flights and hotel way early then the rest fall into place as the months go by. (if you didn’t clear your hotel balance before you travel make sure to do so immediately you arrive), that will prevent you from spending money that doesn’t belong to you.
5) Finding affordable deals:
Knowing the time when to travel, for example, I had plans of going to Côte d’Ivoire September last year, I postponed it to December 2018, but when I checked for flight costs I thought it was too high and I decided to postpone my travel again and ended up traveling early this year, the price had gone down by KSH 15,000/- which was such a win.
Also there are travel apps I have on my phone that I use to find the deals, you compare the different apps and most times I even call the hotel directly to compare with the apps. For flights I/we always book directly with the airline.
6) Booking direct with hotels and airlines:
My husband and I have always done our own travel itineraries, maybe once we have used a travel agency but we learned long ago that booking direct is always better sometimes. Booking with travel agencies can however save you from a lot of hustle but they can also mess you up big time.
7) Road trip if you can:
By this I mean driving down yourself, the last getaway we went to as a family to Samburu, we wanted to use a travel company because we felt Samburu is far away(6 hours with a bad road and alleged banditry). The quote they gave us by road and by air, I didn’t even respond to those emails because I was shocked. We decided to drive down ourselves and we successfully stayed within our budget, I can safely say we saved ourselves 60-100k.
8) Staying within budget:
My husband is so good in saving and investing, so over time I’ve learned much from him and taught myself to always work with what I have and stay within the budget. If you didn’t put it in the original plan and budget, don’t do it, unless you have some money left to spend that you won’t regret or feel guilty about later. Most times I never even have any money left though, the only time I’ve ever come back with money was when I traveled to China 4 years ago.
9) Comparing deals:
Even after finding affordable deals, always compare them against each other before booking or making any payment. The goal is not to find the cheapest but to find a meaningful one. For example, we’ve come to love full board or half board hotels especially when we family travel to Mombasa rather than bed and breakfast or Airbnb. Sometimes we will even go to a hotel that offers half board rather than one that’s on full board, there is a lot to it, just compare depending on what you are looking for as long as it’s within your budget.
10) Keeping to my lane:
There are people out here who can travel to far and exotic places every month from their own pockets, there are those crisscrossing the country or traveling abroad every week because of the nature of their work, there are those who can do six to ten small trips a year, there are those who prefer to do one very big overseas trip once a year, there are those who only travel to another country, there are those who only do local traveling, there are those who only do camping every weekend and there are those who only do one local trip per year. Whichever category you fall in, sticking to your lane will keep you disciplined.
11) Traveling as a group: In most cases, traveling with other people (your friends) can be much cheaper as compared to traveling alone. This is because you will get to share costs amongst yourselves. We however all know the dynamics of group travel.
12) Life after travel:
Remember you will always come back home from that trip, you don’t have to blow every coin you saved. If you didn’t spend it all save what is left for when you come back home or for the next trip.
13) Source of income: To be able to do all these, it would work best also if you have a source of income. Those in love with travel are toiling, working smart , working extra hours, late nights and saving up in order to afford their travels.
So ladies and gentlemen, that is “how I do it” I hope you found a point or two that could be helpful. Let me know.
eve j, the traveling mom.