Friday Q & A -- how to travel on an empty wallet

There's a new series here on the blog based on some questions I've received in the past while. I would love for this to be more of a community based session, because my experience and knowledge is small compared to the great minds and people who stop by on this platform. Basically, I don't think I'm amazingly qualified to answer all these questions, so let's keep this an open forum of different ideas so we can all hold hands and help each other and sing kumbaya together at sundown. :) Please share your insights in the comments below! 

I get most often asked about how Taylor and I travel on a tight budget, so let's kick off this series about travelling.

(Note: you will notice some direct links to money-saving websites. These are NOT affiliated links. I just like them a lot, so I'm giving them a free shout-out. :)

Question: How do I travel when I have no money?
Answer: Well, first, it depends on when you say "no money". Are you literally running on an empty bank account? (Credit cards don't count... I don't condone those bad boys.)

If you really have nothing... either you'll be walking around your city for exploring, or hitting up a friend who might not mind taking you along on a trip. Neither of those are bad things! It's fun to explore your area and try out places you've only seen but never visited. Just recently, Taylor and I went for a drive, and consequently found a public tennis court in a nearby neighborhood. We love tennis, so this was a golden nugget for us.

Question: How do I save money when I live paycheck to paycheck?
Answer: First, I totally understand where you're coming from. Those can be really hard times in general, and sometimes travelling might be out of the question.

However, I think it depends a lot on what your priorities are. Since fun things are important to us, we usually can manage squeezing out 10 or 20 bucks per paycheck to set it aside for fun. Note, all that "fun" money counts towards dates, eating out, paying for a sitter, etc. Usually that means we do a lot of free or cheap dates. (Meanwhile saving a few dollars here or there for some trip in the future)

In short, I would say to look at your current spending priorities and see where you can cut back. Maybe it's less expensive fun activities (like only watching movies on instead of seeing them in theaters) so that you can save for the big kahuna trip.

Now, let's say you're living in a studio apartment in a ghetto town, using smoke signals to communicate, and you eat nothing but water and potatoes everyday. Here's what you do to save money: 1. Pick up a new or second job. 2. Realize that travelling doesn't have to be all that expensive. You can totally have a great trip without spending a ton of money. 

Which leads us perfectly to the next question....

Question: How can I travel "thriftily" ?
Answer: There are so many ways to save on money while planning a trip. In exchange for saving your dollar-dollar-bills-yo, you spend more of your energies planning and researching. Losing that mental energy to save a few bucks might not be worth it for some, but it is for us.

Our favorite ways of thrifty travel:
1. For flying, use discount airline websites like, which checks for smaller airlines that usually will charge less than your usual big daddies like Delta. (Not always the case, because en route to Russia, we used Air France via Skyscanner.) The catch is the flight might more likely to get delayed. A smaller airline has less planes, so if something happens, you might wait longer. This has never happened to us, but it's worth mentioning. We also really like for booking hotels, since we can add up point rewards.

2. Drive! If you don't need to fly, don't. Save on oodles of padoodles of money and make the drive! Roadtrips are the bomb. Plus, gas is so cheap right now (in America) that you could travel for very little.

3. Sleepover with distant relatives! For the past 3 roadtrips we've taken, we've had the great experience of couchsurfing with relatives, or friends of relatives. It's been such a cool way to make connections around the country and make new friendships. Taylor and I have felt so blessed by the hospitality of others. To "give back", we made up our own guest room for travelling friends/family.

That room has been worth it's weight in gold, I'm telling you. It feels like every Monday morning I'm washing the sheets for another weekend's worth of visitors.

4. Pack your own foodThis isn't my "favorite" per se, but it's what we do. We eat PB&J's, granola, and drink the water we brought from home while we travel. It's not particularly exciting, but it saves us so much on the budget. We still get some of our "fun" in through one of our road trip "traditions" by stopping at Dairy Queen to share a chocolate death milkshake. Other than that though, we just eat whatever we bring with us. Eating out, in general, is reserved for special occasions, but we do occasionally eat at a restaurant for lunch or dinner during the trip. 

5. Don't feel the pressure to hit up all the tourist spots. Or hit up any at all. There is SO much to explore on God's great Earth. Talk to the locals to see what their favorite spots are. 

From one of our Oregon road trips, Taylor and I traveled with his family to this cool black sand beach place (here). Totally free, totally secluded & crowd free, since you had to get through a regular ol' Nancy neighborhood to get to it. Here are some pictures from that beach.

I forgot to take pictures of the sketch-diddily rusted iron spiral staircase to get to it but... hopefully that description gives you enough of a mental image. It just wasn't your typical out-of-state exploring. 

Hopefully these travel tips help! Please leave more questions OR your tips on thrifty travel in the comments! Stuff like this gives me an excuse to not fold the laundry. :) "Sorry Hon, but I don't have time to do chores. Bertha from Nevada wants to know how to plan a staycation..."


  1. Great tips! We often do road trips and take along our own food - if you do have to eat out on the road, we've found that KFC offers the most bang for your buck (for a big family.)

    1. Good to know! Taylor wants like 17 kids, so that will be handy in the future.


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