It’s pretty much a no-brainer that travel is expensive. But it is doable depending on your budget, destination, and careful planning. It also requires giving up some daily comforts and luxuries. How bad do you want it?
Budget travel tips tell you to overhaul lifestyle if you want to jet set. But what if you wanted to compromise in some areas? I’m here to tell you that it can be done.
I got enlightened through Mapping Megan’s post “Why Travelers with Less Money Are Traveling Longer Than You.” Now, I can’t see myself selling everything I own, staying in hostels or taking a months-long backpacking trip (my rheumatologist would NOT approve). But I know that little things DO add up and prevent you from going to your dream destinations.
That’s not to say I’m going to go completely minimalistic, but it does mean that I will need to cut back a bit if I want Cecilio and I to go on a trip (or two, or more) in 2022 and beyond.
Here’s what I am willing to give up (or at least, cut way way back on):
For those who used to follow me, this used to be a beauty blog. And while I have gotten a lot better not spending as much in 2021 compared to previous years, I still spent enough to become Sephora VIB and an Ulta Platinum members (it was worse: one year, I was a VIB Rogue AND Ulta Diamond member). And while this blog has transitioned into the travel niche, I have toyed around with the idea of creating a separate beauty blog (so I don’t have too many niches here). The only thing stopping me is that temptation to spend, even though I know I have everything I need right now, and I should only purchase to replace something I finished or lost. I will say that I have been a lot better resisting temptation. I no longer buy things just for a post.
Clothes (with some exceptions…)
My walk-in closet is super full, and I have at least 4 storage bins full of my own clothes sitting in our balcony. I have bags of clothes I’ve been meaning to sell on my Poshmark closet. A lot of these clothes no longer fit, looked terrible on me when I ordered it and it looked amazing on the model, or no longer work with my lifestyle and personal style. And that’s okay.
Like I said, there are some exceptions. I’m getting more into basics but elevating them with accessories, jewelry, and shoes. I’m still wearing my favorite colors. I try not to go for too trendy things these days. I’ve unfollowed a lot of fashion influencers and am in the process of unsubscribing to emails to resist even more temptation.
And I need to get more jeans and pants, which I don’t like because I get hung up on the size changes with prednisone-induced weight fluctuations (also, it’s very hard to find jeans when you’re curvy/mid-sized). Luckily, I found Kut from the Kloth, the softest and most comfortable jeans ever! They are also sold in Nordstrom.
I also need new shoes, so I’m making exceptions in that area.
Fitness boutique studios and gyms
You may have heard me wax poetic about Pure Barre. I’ve also been a member of 9Round and Club Pilates. Orangetheory and F45 are calling my name. I enjoy working out and staying fit, especially at bougie boutique fitness studios where the classes are small, and the instructors tell you what to do so you don’t have to come up with your own workout plan. The problem is that my wallet does NOT like these memberships, which can run from $100-$200+ a month depending on where you live. Then you have to pay for gas, clothes or grippy barre socks at the studio (in case if you forgot to bring some), or cancelling classes too close to class time. I’m not a huge fan of gyms either except for my alma mater university gym, but it’s kinda far from where I live.
Right now, I am subscribed to Ballet Beautiful, which is $40 a month for 400+ streaming videos. It’s still costly, but way less than the studios mentioned above (plus, I’ve spent a lot more at Target before). And the workouts are effective, exhilarating, AND travel-friendly!
Frequent Starbucks runs
I love a good cold brew or a latte, but they sure add up! I try not to go to Starbucks too often, but there was a phase where I was going weekly (or twice a week! Yikes!). Cecilio and I usually go to Starbucks during road trips, but that’s our ritual and that’s what makes it more special. Plus, we do have a Moka pot, French press, and Cecilio knows how to make cold brew during the warmer months.
Frequent eating out
This one is a little tough because Cecilio wants Friday and Saturday nights to be when we eat out. He justifies this is a reward for a long hard working week. But I know cutting down on eating out would help save us money and be better for our health. We try not to eat anywhere too expensive, and we do our best to cook throughout the week. So this is an area where we both compromise.
I also need to be better about packing my breakfast and lunch the night before work, because there have been times where I’ve crashed from hunger and had to go to the Subway next door for a sandwich.
At my previous job, I was near two coffee shops where I would order a drink and a quiche, a bougie Mexican resto that had the best impossible meat tacos, a smoothie bar where cold-pressed juices were $8, and a Southern-inspired restaurant that had bomb fried chicken. I burned my paycheck through a lot of those eats.
On the flip side, here is what I am NOT willing to give up:
I would love to not have to pay monthly car payments and to be able to take public transportation, but Sacramento’s light rail is only limited to a few areas in the region, and it is not even close to where I live. Sacramento is a car-centric city, like LA (but somehow our drivers are much ruder). And I pay $174/month for my car (2016 Volkswagen Jetta) which is not bad. I’m also halfway done paying it off too!
Spoiling my dogs
If spoiling my dogs means giving them the best lives ever, I’m all here for it. Cecilio and I do everything we can to make sure they were comfortable, fed, and happy. I take them grooming every 2 months, and I fit that in my budget. That is an area I won’t budge on.
Sometimes I take it a bit far by buying extra toys, treats, clothes, etc. but I try to take it easy. I mean, momaging (is that a word?) their Instagram has also been a fun hobby of mine. I met a lot of dog mom friends there that I talk to almost every day. It’s also strengthened my content creation skills, and I actually also have been contemplating creating a dog-mom lifestyle blog (how on earth will I manage 3 blogs with a full-time job and a design business?!).
Living on my own
I didn’t move out of my mom’s until Cecilio and I got married when I was 27. I know that sounds late, but it’s pretty common in Asian cultures to live at home into your adulthood until you get married or find a stable career. Plus, it just made sense based on the situations in my life. But once I got my taste of freedom, it’s hard to relinquish that.
Getting my brows done
While I do love to get pampered, I am willing to forgo nail salon appointments, massages, and facials, especially when I can get them done at home. One area I won’t compromise on is getting my brows waxed every month at the Ulta 5 minutes away from me. I’ve had the best brows ever since using the Benefit Brow Bar there or in Macy’s.
My design career
Being a graphic designer is a decent career, but not necessarily the most lucrative. The average salary of a senior graphic designer in my area is around $55k-$90k, but most people end up in the middle or below range. I would consider myself a midlevel designer. Most designers who want to make more money transition to UX design or web development, or freelance design on the side. I do the latter, and if you are interested in some branding for your work I can help you (click here for my portfolio). I sometimes toy around with transitioning to UX or PR/Communications/Marketing since I now have a background in that too.
What areas in your life are you willing to give up in order to pursue what you deeply desire the most? Especially if you are an aspiring wanderluster?
Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.