Guest Post: How to Travel Without Going Broke

Y’all. I am SO BEHIND. I was supposed to have this post up weeks ago. I mean, weeks ago. Thankfully my friend Matt is a patient gem of a man.

In light of my last post about taking a frugal road trip (which was great! See photo evidence of greatness here) it’s actually kind of perfect that I’m so behind schedule.

Matt is a world traveler from Australia who has perfected the art of budget travel. He’s been all over the world and has wonderful advice for how you can travel on the cheap too. So without any further ado or waiting, here is Matt’s advice on how to make a travel budget.

Have you ever done your best to save up as much money as you can for a trip, only to come back broke and wonder where all your money went? I know that has happened to me more than once.


Both when planning for an upcoming trip and also when you are actually on it, I find it very useful use a budget spreadsheet for the trip. One half should be the amount of money you have (income) and the other half what you expect to spend (expenses).

The most important thing is to be realistic about how much you are going to spend because you do not want any nasty surprises whilst on the road.

I am going to share my budget spreadsheet with you for the trip I took to Europe, Israel and Turkey. You are welcome to copy the spreadsheet and modify it for your trips.

Check out the screenshot below to see my budget. Use this link to get taken to a live version of it, which you can use to form your own travel budget! Hover over the green tabs to see explanations. Note that I have modified my income numbers for privacy reasons, and that I have different tabs at the bottom to update the spreadsheet every 2-3 days.

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4 Replies to “Guest Post: How to Travel Without Going Broke”

  1. Years ago, we managed to travel on a budget. I am curious how our first big travel with the kids will be… It is yet unplanned. I just know that our ski holiday had more out of pocket costs than foreseen, even if it was all in except for the bar and drinks on the slopes… Not so frugal as I thought we were

    1. I think kids necessitate a level of uncertainty in the budget. But also any kind of planning is bound to save you some cash!

  2. Lauren McCullough says: Reply

    I am savings towards my emergency savings goal (six months of my take-home pay). I put about $158 a month towards travel at this time. The travel saving money can afford me one annual plane ticket trip back home to the East Coast where my family is – and one weekend get-a-way to San Carlos, MX (a five hour drive from Tucson, AZ, where I live) + a random weekend driving trip overnight here and there.

    I’ve struggled with feeling clipped in my ability to travel internationally by my aggressive pace towards my emergency savings goal (I’ve been putting $500-600 a month depending on side-gig income). I’ve never been to Europe – I want to go to France, Italy! I want to visit Iceland, Spain, Turkey – so many places! And it feels like between retirement, emergency savings, down payment on a home (I will start this goal after completing my emergency savings goal), there’s just never enough.

    When I start feeling sorry for myself, I remind myself: It is a luxury to travel internationally. A lot of the worlds’ population barely knows a distance of 30-100 miles of their village or town. I did the Peace Corps and remembered working with kids who’d never left their town. We would take them on “cultural field trips” to visit art museums, historical sites, and just take them to mall – these kids lived only ONE HOUR from the capitol but their parents had never been able to or thought to take them.

    I know it will feel really good to meet my emergency savings goal. I’m $1500 shy, but income just decreased because at 34, after a recent terrible roommate, I moved into my own place for the first time in my life this past month. I struggled with making that decision, because of how it would decrease my ability to save, but it was necessary for my health and well-being. It will probably take me about 4-8 months to reach my goal with my new budget/living situation.

    I remind myself that I can be happy – just like those kids – even if I don’t go to Milan. Yes, as soon as I reach my goal I will make it a priority goal – but in the meantime, I just need to shift my perspective – seeing these inexpensive trips you planned made me realize: I could have been travelling (and enjoying it!) all along.

    Travel gives you a sense of wonder, excitement – and your national park trips would provide that same experience, plus getting to connect with nature! My only fear is travelling as a alone as a woman, but maybe I can find another friend who would want to go, too. Either way, it has helped me remember that travel is not outside my reach while I finish my savings goal – I just need to shift my perspective. Spain will be there, but for now, I will focus on what’s in my own backyard, and within reach. And I will be grateful for the opportunity to travel!

    Thank you!

    1. Travel is definitely a luxury. In the age of travel bloggers, it’s easy to get consumed by jealousy and entitlement. I really relish my shorter trips because it takes travel from being this holy grail that’s almost unachievable, to being a much more manageable thing.You’re definitely right in your priorities- that e fund comes first! And you’ll enjoy travel more knowing you have a secure fund to fall back on!

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