October 21, 2015

How To Spend Less and Travel More


I constantly have people approaching me and say things like, “Wow, you travel so much! How on earth do you afford it?” And over and over I share my not-so-secret piece of advice: it’s really not that expensive. Besides all the ways you can save on flights and in-country, there are so many changes you can make in your daily life to help you have more money in your pocket for the things you love. And believe it or not – spending less money on unnecessary things will actually make you happier!

Here’s the truth: we all spend money on things we don’t actually need. And I’m just as at fault: but once you start to let go of some of that stuff, you’ll realize that those things just weighed you down and complicated your life. So why not get rid of some of that extra baggage and go see the world instead! Here are some ways I’ve learned to spend less so I can travel more:

Ditch the Shopping Addiction

This is a big one, and I’m not joking when I say shopping is an addiction! It’s easy to feel the need to buy new clothes every month (maybe even every week for some of us girls) even though every time we look in our closet, we feel like we have nothing to wear. How is that even possible!? I’ll tell you how: you have too much to wear. No, really – the more clothing you have, the harder it is to visualize what pieces you can put together into an outfit. Now does that mean you should never go shopping again and pull a Steve Jobs and wear the same outfit every day to work? Of course not. All it takes is learning to shop smarter.

Here’s how I do it: Write down a list of 5 items that you have been wanting for a long time that are functional and will match other things you already have (i.e. – a leather jacket, new pair of boots, a black skirt, etc). Keep an eye out for these items any time you’re at the mall and intentionally search for a good deal and good quality. Once you finally find it, I guarantee you’ll feel awesome about wearing it because it’s something you really wanted versus that floral dress from Forever 21 that fell apart after a month. And another great tip: don’t shop at stores like Forever 21. You know you’re just going to go in there and buy a million things you don’t actually like because everything is like a dollar and you’ll just regret it all later (say amen if you know it’s true). And of course, thrifting is always a great option for saving money; not to mention you’re recycling clothes which is good for the environment!

Cook More and Eat Out Less

Guys, I cannot tell you how much money this will save you. Going to Chipotle once a week and getting that Starbucks latte every other day adds up way quicker than you realize. I encourage you to download the personal budgeting app Mint and start keeping track of all the money you spend in a week and if a big chunk of it is on meals out, it’s time to start falling in love with grocery shopping!

Besides saving money, cooking at home is way healthier! In college, I decided to cut out things like processed foods, sugary snacks, dairy, and more – and it’s honestly changed my life. Instead of eating a cereal that are loaded with processed sugars for breakfast, I now making smoothie bowls every morning and they are hands down my favorite meal of the day! I linked a picture from my personal Instagram so you can get pumped. I could talk all day about the benefits healthy eating and the amazing recipes I’ve found over the years, but I’ll save that for another blog post.

Say No to Salons

So this one is for all my girls out there: why spend huge chunks of money on something that you can probably do yourself? I never pay to get my nails done and I’ve recently said “nay” to hair salons, too. Call me crazy, but I actually cut my own hair using pocket knife scissors! They’re really sharp and fine like salon scissors, but you can totally buy the real ones on Amazon for like $10 bucks if that’s more your style.

If you really want to get your hair done at a salon, consider doing something like an Ombre that doesn’t require touch ups every month. Remember, you could buy a plane ticket with that money. #motivation

Sell Old Stuff

I was a business major so this is a no-brainer to me, but for those of you that have never considered it, you should really give it a try! Go through your closet and pull out everything you haven’t worn in 6 months (besides winter coats and such) and make one pile to sell and one pile to donate. This ties in to the whole “have less stuff and have more to wear” concept that I talked about earlier, and I can tell you it works from first-hand experience! The less clothes you have, the easier it is to pack and the less you have to think about what you’re going to wear. But, really – none of us need 10 pairs of jeans and 20 pairs of shoes.

For selling other items, I recommend using apps such as OfferUp, 5Miles, and Nextdoor which allow you to post ads for sale in your local neighborhood. You can also use these apps for clothing, but you can also try making an Etsy shop to sell old clothes that are in good condition or name brand or try out the new EBayValet page where you can send in your stuff to eBay and have them do the selling for you. Yay for making money!

So, there you have it! My top ways to save money so you can start traveling more. And feel free to comment and share any tips of your own!

Put Less Value on Material Things

The most important thing to remember is that the less “stuff” you feel you need, the more you’ll be able to step into financial freedom and be able to travel. If you grew up in the States like I did, consumerism is something you’re constantly surrounded by and it’s hard to escape the daily ads as you scroll through your Instagram feed telling you to buy that new outfit. But I truly believe that the less “stuff” we own, the more we realize how much we actually have. So instead of focusing so much on the “what”, start to focus on the “why” behind the purchases you make and what things really add value to your life. Chances are, you’re probably spending money on things that are only keeping you from your dreams!

Find this post helpful? Share this image with your friends on Pinterest! 🙂

how to travel on a budget

meet the writer

I'm Donna Irene.


A photographer, writer, and educator with a passion for helping people quit the hustle and live filled with purpose. When I picked up
a camera over 10 years ago, I had no idea it would take me around the world getting to photograph for everything from fortune 500
companies, brands, and people like you.

And now that I've been to 40+ countries and counting, I want to
use my talents to inspire others to use their creativity to make the world better. Follow along for resources on authentic travel experiences, sustainability, and building a business with intention.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Kelsey Lee says:

    Loved this post, Donna! Thank you for your insight.

What people are saying...


Photographer, educator, environmentalist, and dog mom. I've turned a passion for photography into my dream job and I want to
teach you how you can do the same!

Hi! I'm Donna.