I haven't traveled for pleasure since childhood. I've always dismissed trips abroad as being far out of my budget, but I keep seeing travel described as a vital and lifechanging activity. I would probably enjoy it. I would probably enjoy many other luxuries, too. Do other people just budget their money very differently? Would you still travel for pleasure given my financial situation?
Givens: I'm single, in my twenties, make about $40K, and live in a major US city. All told, adding up rent, basic utilities, groceries, health insurance, car insurance, gasoline, and student loan payments, I have about $1300 of non-negotiable expenses each month.
This leaves about $900 each month for discretionary expenses like take-out lunch with coworkers, cell phone payments (I'm on a per-minute plan, can't justify the expense of a regular plan), car repairs, new clothes, or books.
And, of course, saving for the future. I've seen a variety of budgeting strategies advocated: most would have me saving all of my rather meager leftover income (about $500 per month).
Now, I'm going to assume that a typical week-long trip might cost about $2,000–$3,000. That means that I would need to be very frugal and non-out-going indeed for 4–6 months to be able to take it. I find that degree of delayed gratification intimidating. There are many far cheaper things that I don't have that I would also enjoy owning: an iPod, a PS3, a smartphone, and so on.
I do get plenty of paid leave at work, and so far it's just piling up. There's got to be an affordable and satisfying way to use it.
I AM LOOKING FOR:
- people who will correct my assumptions about the expense of foreign travel for pleasure
- fabulous tales of people who don't make much money and live on soda crackers and whey six months each year to finance their travel during the remaining time
- other possible ways to use up my accumulating paid leave
I AM NOT LOOKING FOR:
- people telling me not to give into social pressure and to make peace with staying put