A couple of weeks ago, I came across a post on a Facebook group dedicated to travel. A young woman explained that she was recently laid off from her job and was considering canceling a trip she had booked well in advance. She didn’t have trip insurance, so she would forego the $500 she’d spent on airfare. She also explained that she had gone on another trip post-layoff and did not enjoy it precisely because of her financial situation. This got me thinking, is it a good idea to travel while broke, like some bloggers encourage, or is it financially irresponsible?
The pros of traveling while broke
I got into points and miles in order to cover travel expenses while broke and fresh out of college. Even though I worked full time, I still only ended up with $200 at the end of every month. Most of that went towards student loans, so as you can imagine, I had very little disposable income. So how did it feel to travel with very little in my pocket? It actually wasn’t so bad. On a month-long trip, I took $200 along. I didn’t waste money on things I didn’t need, pointless tchotchkes that were tossed away, and focused on spending my budget on experiences that provided the most value (monetary and sentimentally).
Was traveling while broke ultimately good for me? Absolutely. Every time I left on a trip, I came back refreshed. It took me out of my otherwise miserable, depressed mindset. I felt much more at ease and like all of my hard, unappreciated, underpaid work wasn’t a complete waste. And because most of my travel and even dining expenses were covered with points and miles, I ended up actually saving money that would have gone towards gas, groceries’ and dining if I had stayed home. Traveling during this time really helped me feel less restricted and ultimately gave me the inspiration that led me to launch my blog, start a lucrative side hustle as a travel writer, and become happier and more financially stable.
The cons of traveling while broke
Of course, if you’re completely unemployed, you probably don’t have the advantage of a paycheck or the tools to help save money by traveling. Taking odd jobs abroad (i.e. house sitting, working on a farm, etc.) to afford travel isn’t for everyone. If you’re a highly educated person who’s made significant advancements in your career, it might feel like a step down and a less-than-ideal compromise to be able to travel the world.
In these situations, it’s probably best to focus on long-term solutions rather than acquire debt or make an unpleasant situation worse. In the case of the woman who shared her story with that Facebook group, she was looking at losing $500 she had spent on airfare but didn’t want to incur additional travel expenses she couldn’t afford. The value of traveling wasn’t greater than the money she’d save by staying home.
I’ve traveled while broke and I’ve done it post-student loan debt. What I discovered was that when things were bad, travel had a healing effect on me. But now that things are great, I’m so content in my daily life that I don’t need to travel as much anymore. I’m perfectly happy spending a week off just lounging around at home (like I recently did). The important thing is to make responsible decisions that improve your situation, both mentally and financially.
What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s smart to travel while broke or do you find it financially irresponsible?
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