Want to travel more but have absolutely no money? Start with these 5 things our family did to live wanderlust on a tight budget!

5 Things I Did to Live a Wanderlust Life When I Had No Money

If you’ve been hanging around here for a while, you know that at one point our family was drowning financially. We were living in a house that we couldn’t afford, had medical bills piling up and had totally maxed credit cards. For a while, while we worked to dig ourselves out of debt I didn’t allow myself to have any fun or do any travel. This left me feeling defeated, depressed and kind of made me forget what living was actually all about. Finally, I decided it was time to make small changes wherever I could to make travel a little more accessible for me and my family. If you have found yourself in a similar bind, here are my 5 biggest recommendations for living a little more wanderlust even if you are short on funds.

*This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission on recommendations at no cost to you.

Designing a life of travel

First and foremost, I want to remind you that my family and I specifically worked to design a life of travel. If you have seen footage of our epic 2-week road trips or happened to catch those times in our lives where we were traveling back to back, remember, this was something we strategically planned.

Downsizing our house and paying off our debt were all part of the plan to allow us more time, money, and freedom to do what we wanted and most importantly, GO where we wanted!

If you love the idea of designing a life where travel is a normal part of your life, I wanted to let you know I have a mini-course that is on pre-sale right now! It’s called, Wannabe Wanderlust and it will lay out for you 5 things you can do to make travel easier, more affordable, and more constant!

Click here to snag the pre-sale price!

Set aside chump change

A big mind block most people have when it comes to not hopping on the travel bandwagon is the belief that if you don’t have $5,000 laying around, then you are not capable of traveling.

When we first started working to be a little more wanderlust, we started by setting aside $100 per month, $25 per week to put toward fun little adventures. At the time, I was homeschooling my kids so this money was also considered part of our school budget.

When you start designating money from each paycheck to go toward travel, you start to prioritize it in your life and float the cost of new experiences. As always, I recommend setting this funding up to come out of our account automatically so you are sure to get a hefty fund started with as little effort as possible. You can easily do this by opening an online savings account that pays you to save! There is one called the Savings Builder that you can start for just $100 per month!

Even if you are only able to save $10 per week, that adds up to $40 per month, $480 per year! If you need help starting a simple budget system, grab my Fun Sized Budget Bundle.

Start where you’re at

One of the biggest mistakes I made was believing that we had to travel far and wide otherwise I was a wanderlust failure. I spent so much time sitting around throwing myself a pitty party because I couldn’t be traveling like my favorite Instagrammers with 8 bajillion followers. Poor me.

Then I remembered an experience I had when visiting the Dominican Republic (yup…this was when I was broke and had no money in the bank. Probably charged it. — I don’t ever recommend this).

We were sitting at a table with a couple from the Netherlands and I was baffled when I heard them talk about all of the places they wanted to see in America. Here I had been dying to get out of the country, dreaming of Paris since I was like…10…and I was totally missing out on the stuff that was all around me. Stuff that other people were dying to see I wasn’t even taking advantage of!

While I didn’t have the funding to even begin traveling to some of the amazing places near me like LA, New York or attend Burning Man like my new friend from the Netherlands wanted to, I did have the funding to start finding free stuff in my own back yard!

When I made the decision to start enjoying what I had available to me, I started uncovering TONS of free (or close to free) things to do right near me! Museums, parks, hiking trails, lakes. There were hundreds of amazing sights to be seen right near me that I had been totally overlooking for my entire life!

If you’re totally broke right now, start by getting really good at finding free things to do in your local area and don’t pout about it — take the time to truly enjoy and soak up the experience!

Take the epic photos

Once you start finding places near you that you can enjoy and experience, be sure to fully live the experience. Take photos of the things you see!

Here are just a few of the photos my family and I have taken over the years at free events we have found. (So yeah, we maybe spent a little on gas money, but that’s about it!)

And hey, they probably won’t be Instagram worthy right away, but that’s not what we are aiming for. The whole point is to capture these memories, make them feel special.

The focus of travel or having these experiences should never be on the price tag, but rather on the feelings behind them. Allow yourself to soak up the moment, embrace the experiences you get to have no matter how big or small they are.

Free up funds

Okay, now that we have established the importance of soaking up the moments, finding free things to do and starting where you are at, I’m not going to pretend that flipping the bill for future travel isn’t ever going to be an issue.

Yes, of course, if you want to design a life of travel, you are going to need to free up some moola each month that allows for more flexibility for you to do so!

Whenever it comes to creating additional money in your life, most people tend to think this means you need to work more when in reality you can probably do a lot of damage starting with the money you currently have. To maximize your future travel funding, I suggest following these three steps:

One of my favorite side hustles during debt payoff was dog sitting through Rover. Because I was home all day anyway with 2 kids and 2 dogs, taking on an additional dog (or 2) for a week at a time wasn’t really a big deal and I loved getting extra cash in my pocket!

Grow your dream

Once you’ve started exploring close to home, you can gradually begin to expand your horizons, and chances are this will happen naturally. You’ll meet someone who recommends another location to check out, you’ll stumble upon another cool freebie in a nearby state… When you allow yourself to be lead, you’ll be surprised what new opportunities flow into your life.

As you begin to pay off debt, start adding a few more $10’s to your monthly travel fund deposit.

Keep seeking out affordable solutions for travel.

Start a Pinterest board with local attractions.

There are so many things to see and do out there and I think a lot of times we get bogged down by the hype of certain locations. We all know about hot-spot locations like Vegas, The Grand Canyon, Times Square, or Yellowstone National Park. However, there are amazing, less seen, more affordable experiences to be had that no one is taking advantage of which means you are getting in on something no one else is!

Want to keep the ideas flowing? Be sure to follow along on Instagram with me to get little sneak peeks of places my family and I end up from time to time!

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Want to travel more but have absolutely no money? Start with these 5 things our family did to live wanderlust on a tight budget!

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