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Traveling on a Budget

By May 23, 2017 October 19th, 2017 No Comments



Camera in Hand: I Travel

My name is Dylan McKeever, I’ve been living with a camera in my hand for the past two years; in which time I’ve traveled to Texas, California, Colorado, and New Mexico just to name a few. I wanted to explain how I can afford to go adventure. Sit tight and I will explain all of my tricks for traveling on a budget!

 Nothing should stand in your way of seeing the world, just make traveling your top priority and you can do it regardless of cost.

Everyone asks! I bet you wonder too!

 I’m a college student and I work a part-time job at a gym, so I don’t necessarily make a ton of money. I tell people it’s all about extensive budgeting when it comes to transportation, shelter, and food.When I plan a big trip, I typically begin planning it about a year in advance; this gives you plenty of time to save and plan your life around the trip.

Your first step of planning: Looking for hidden treasure.

Figuring out where you are going and how you’re going to get there! I’m not a huge fan of traveling by air because it’s more expensive; road trips are the most cost efficient method of traveling within your country (and the most fun). SO! before you get your heart set on a location overseas, always do some research on areas close to home! You’ll be surprised at what hidden treasures you may have in your own backyard!

The more discovery stops you make, the more worth while your trip will be.

Step two: Pin Points

 Map out every stop you want to take on Google Maps or another planning application.  You can accurately figure out how many miles your trip will total out to be; this is important for when you’re approximating the cost. A good way to find interesting locations is a website called Atlas Obscura – with them you can type in a location and it will tell you all the bizarre and unique landmarks in that area.

Planes, trains, and automobiles:

Transportation is often the most expensive role in planning a trip. Most people consider two forms of traveling: road trips and airplanes.

If you’re taking a plane, considerations are significantly less than when you’re taking a car. Essentially with air travel, you just need to purchase tickets and there aren’t too many contingencies.

However, this is VERY important for finding affordable flights!

When shopping for tickets, be sure to shop around. Different websites such as KAYAK and Expedia have different prices and often you can find tickets much cheaper on one site than another. ALWAYS be sure to turn off cookies on your browser or browse in incognito mode when shopping for tickets, as airlines will raise the price of tickets if you search for them multiple times!

 Being as it is an approximation, plan for worst case scenario. Add an additional hundred miles to your total, just in case something happens and youshould veer off your planned route.

RoadTripping? Plan for the worst case!

Traveling by car requires you to plan for more contingencies. The biggest being gas; when calculating the cost, the best way to get an accurate idea is to plug it into Google Maps. Being as it is an approximation, plan for the worst-case scenario. Add an additional hundred miles to your total, just in case something happens and you should veer off your planned route. Figure out how many miles per gallon your vehicle gets and how about how many miles your car gets per tank, then plan to get the worst gas mileage your car can get for worst case scenario and go from there. Next, you’ll want to figure out the national average cost per gallon of gas, since you’re planning so far out, the best thing to do is add about 30 cents onto the current national average; just in case.

Shelter can be the most expensive element of a trip: Knowing where to stay can help cut costs dramatically!

Staying in hotels is very cost inefficient, although it is understandable for people to want to sleep in a real bed and get a good night sleep. When staying in hotels, try and avoid staying right in the heart of a city, do what you can to stay on the outskirts of a city as these are typically much cheaper or check Airbnb.

While staying in San Diego with a friend,

we paid $300 for an entire week for an entire

house to ourselves through Airbnb.


 A much cheaper alternative to staying at a hotel. Here you will still get a real bed to sleep in, but it’s a lot less private. When staying at a hostel you’re sharing a room with total strangers, which is a great way to meeting new people while on a trip!

 The cheapest and my preferred method of shelter:

 Camping/car camping is the best because it’s almost totally free. You need to get a tent and a sleeping bag, but that’s the only real cost to camping.

I highly recommend not skimping when it comes to tents and sleeping bags, get a top of the line brand for both if you’ll be camping often. Shoot for an all weather tent and a thermal sleeping bag, it’ll pay off in the end. Car camping is a little more difficult if you have a smaller vehicle, but you can’t beat reclining seats.

Food expenses:

 Most people think the only way to eat on a trip is at a restaurant or some sort of fast food; definitely not true. The most affordable way to eat on the road is energy/protein bars (i.e. Cliff Bars and granola bars) and sandwiches. Food in bar form is fantastic because typically a meal is under $2.00 and your meals are quick and easy. Sandwiches are another great source of quick, cheap food. A loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter can supply you with food for almost a whole week while supplying you with a high amount of energy, carbohydrates, and protein. MREs are a bit more on the expensive side of things, but one MRE can supply you with enough food for an entire day.

Check the Label!

Other small and quick snacks work well too, but make sure you’re checking nutritional facts for high calorie, low sugar, high protein, and a decent amount of carbohydrates so you get the most out of your meals. Personally, I prefer making sandwiches because it’s typically the cheapest and has a high amount of nutritional value.

Don’t let stress get the best of you:

Planning a trip can be stressful, but it is not nearly as bad as most of us think it will be with proper planning and budgeting. Take a friend or a group with you to save on gas and food (and traveling with good friends makes everything more fun). Don’t forget that unplanned things do happen and you should be prepared for them, add a few hundred dollars onto the final cost of your trip to be safe.

 your car breaking down or blowing a tire,

purchasing national park passes, campsite fees,

and toll roads are all things that can pop up that you

did not budget for. I can’t tell you how many times my

route has had an unexpected toll road that has cost me $30 or so.

 Start a specific fund just for traveling and figure out how much you need to put away each month or each paycheck to reach your goal. Nothing should stand in your way of seeing the world, just make traveling your top priority and you can do it regardless of cost.

My next planned trip! Where are going?

This summer, my brothers and I are embarking on a trip that I began planning in January of 2016. We’re doing an entire tour of the western half of the United States featuring every single National Park west of Minnesota. Our trip will last upwards of a month long with countless hours in the car.

Sounds pretty expensive, right? Wrong.

Overall the trip is going to cost $900 per person; $600 of which is planned money that already has been put into the budget and then an additional $300 for an emergency fund. Putting away just $25 per paycheck for 18 months, I easily reached my goal of $900 without really needing to cut my spending throughout the year and a half. Planning your trip is half the fun of it, when done correctly it’s not hard on your wallet and you’ll be able to maximize the capabilities of your trip.

You can check out some the images from my travels on  Instagram @mckpix,

Be sure to comment below if you have any questions or comments! We would love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this post continue on! Read about the adventures of this inspiring young couple!





Dylan McKeever

Author Dylan McKeever

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