This is a question we are often asked “How can you afford to travel?” We’ve learned one of the secrets is slow travel.
Generally speaking, transportation is the most expensive and least flexible cost of travel. Once you decide to go to a specific place that is some distance from where you are now, you have only a few options to get there. Air travel is expensive if you have a destination in mind. If you are somewhat flexible, you can wait for airlines to contact you with price reductions via their email alerts. Fuel, any place you go is usually costly, but local buses and trains are often economical. We don’t try to cover long distances every day.
Accommodations can be surprisingly inexpensive if we rent by the month. Some places, though, like Laughlin Nevada had a nice suite at $13 weeknights and $35 weekends. Camping is an inexpensive alternative while traveling in the United States. National Parks charge $8 per night and no park admission fees with a lifetime Senior Pass. We’ve stayed in lovely AirBnB’s from $10-$40 per night, often with an ample home-cooked breakfast and an uber-friendly host to show us around the area. The Goenka Vipassana 10-day meditation retreat did not charge at all for accommodations, meals and classes (although we made a donation). We’ve stayed with family; and with friends who feel like family to us.
Medical services can be much less expensive in countries other than North America. We blogged about this already in Costa Rica. Insurance for world travelers is surprisingly inexpensive. We pay $100 per year between the two of us for quite comprehensive travel insurance that includes emergency medical benefits. It covers us all over the world except in North America.
Slow travel allows us to enjoy the local culture, food and recipes. We can eat like locals by shopping and cooking for ourselves which is quite a savings from restaurant fare or picking up prepared foods.
Cruising has turned out to be an affordable way to travel if you compare the cost of airline tickets to travel overseas. We’ve enjoyed gourmet meals, world-class evening entertainment, a myriad choices of daily activities, use of a gym and port visits to many different countries for 25 days. It’s amazing what is included for a month-long cruise for 2 compared to about the same price for a pair of airline tickets. For instance, many passengers who landed in Japan, joined the Celebrity Millenium sailing from Tokyo to Vancouver. It’s a 14 day cruise advertised last week for as little as $500. I don’t know why I would ever choose to fly overseas again.
The really big factor is that we sold our home with all its associated costs including mortgage, taxes, utilities, maintenance and repairs. We’ve been tracking our expenses. Besides being more exciting and more rewarding than we ever imagined, we are spending less money than if we were living at ‘home’. The question how can you afford to travel should rather be posed: “how did we ever afford our lives before traveling?”
“Don’t be a tourist. Plan less. Go slowly. I traveled in the most inefficient way possible and it took me exactly where I wanted to go”. ~ National Geographic’s Andrew Evans