Budget Travel Money Travel Tips

10 Reasons You Travel Better When You’re Broke

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

bangkok tuk tuk
Photo Credit: TravelFREAK

In the off chance that Sallie Mae’s chokehold hasn’t yet cut off your circulation and you also have aspirations to travel, then you’re still in debt luck!

During my two and a half years of living and traveling abroad, I’ve had days where I felt like Oprah’s nose hairs (filthy rich, pun intended) and days where I’ve had nothing but Casper currency.

I’ve never considered myself to be “rolling in the dough”, but I’ve definitely had my days where I was baking in the oven, toasting in the toaster, or even stirring in the punch bowl… you get the idea.

I remember the days I felt like I could live and spend like Beyoncé for the rest of my life… as long as I died by tomorrow.

Toledo, Spain
Toledo, Spain

Money is an interesting concept and I’ve come to find that the more of it I have, the more careless with it I can be.

Which is why being broke can be a blessing in disguise. Staying broke, on the other hand… not so much, lol.

Adventure and fun abroad doesn’t have to have a hefty price tag on it, and I’ve relished in my peasantry pinching pennies from country to country, and it’s reminded me that limited funds doesn’t have to mean limited FUN! Here’s why…

1) You learn to maximize your resources.

Koh Phangan, Thailand
Koh Phangan, Thailand

Couchsurfing, Meetup, Instagram, you name it! As long as you’ve got access to Wi-Fi, you’ve got a world of resources in the palm of your hands. Whether it’s finding out about a free picnic through Meetup or being invited for a home-cooked meal through Couchsurfing, there are amazing people out there who not only want to help you, but want to make sure you have the best experience ever in their city.

2) You’re forced to take the long way.

Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain

If you’re trying to save money on transportation, then metros and taxis are out of the question. So you’re forced to walk, but en route you’ll always discover hidden gems, find interesting people, and stumble upon things you would’ve never seen had you always opted for underground transportation.

3) You’re forced to be creative.

Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor, Montenegro

It’s easy to let the convenience of bars and nightclubs dictate your evening activities when you’ve got some money to blow. But sneaking off with a bottle of wine and friends up a hill to watch the sunset can be just as fun!

4) You’ll have more intriguing conversations.

Pars Teatro Hostel, Barcelona, Spain
Pars Teatro Hostel, Barcelona, Spain

Whether you’re hanging back at your hostel and playing games with your new friends from ten different countries, or just sitting at the park with your $1 bread roll and $2 wine, these authentic and laid back atmospheres not only welcome conversation, but the chances are the settings will help make them more meaningful. No loud and obnoxious Australians people in the background trying to outdrink each other.

5) Your necessities are redefined as luxuries.

Deserted streets in Paris, France
Paris, France

Do you really need that extra watch? The latest iPhone? $300 shoes?

Not only do you become less of a target when you’re not wielding around expensive things, but in the case you got robbed, what’s the guy gonna take? All 30 cents of your stash? It’s all yours buddy.

6) Because true happiness has no price tag.

toledo spain
Toledo, Spain

Think about the times when you’ve been the happiest in life. Was a dollar amount directly attached to it? Was that happiness purchased? Was it temporary?

You’ll come to learn that the ultimate happiness can only come from within. It comes from being at peace with your life despite your circumstances, because things could always be worse. Plus, the secret to having it all is believing that you already do.

7) You have an obligation to dream.

brussels belgium
Brussels, Belgium

It’s easy to feel complacent when the money is rolling in, things are going well, and life is pretty good. It’s easy to kick your feet up and say, “Yeah, I’ve done well. I deserve to relax”. And you absolutely do, but when you’re forced to work harder to make ends meet, your mental strength is tested and you start dreaming and believing harder than ever before.

8) You’re forced to step out of your comfort zone.

hitchhiking montenegro
Hitchhiking in Montenegro!

Hitchhiking, ridesharing, and couchsurfing might’ve all been things you would’ve frowned upon before, but when you’re left with no choice, you learn to make the best of any situation. I almost guarantee that there’s a magical or hilarious story on the other side anyway!

9) You’re less likely to tolerate negative people/energy.

valencia spain
Valencia, Spain

Have you ever found yourself putting up with unnecessary negative energy because you had no other way out? Welp, when you’re broke, you can’t really afford to waste time being around people that don’t make you happy. So… next!

10) Because humble pie has never tasted sweeter.

parga greece
Parga, Greece

Happiness is relative. But when you’re thankful for what you already have, you’re always rewarded with more. And the same applies when it comes to travel.

Inversely, never be so broke where all you have is your money.

The goal is obviously not to strive for brokeness when you travel, but if you’ve managed to reach this accolade anyway, congratulations because you’ve now learned that life isn’t over, you will survive, and fun can still be had! So be a responsible adult (if you must), pay your bills on time, and set off for your adventure, because believe it or not, I’ve survived several months abroad on $5/day, and if that’s your budget, then you can too.

For more inspiration and stories about how I budgeted my way around the world, be sure to check out my e-book “From Excuses to Excursions: How I Started Traveling the World“!

  • 1dad1kid

    Great post! I definitely think I travel better when finances are lower for many of the reasons you list here. It’s one reason I seriously wouldn’t want travel financially wealthy. I think I would miss out on a lot of the experiences I’ve had when I’ve had to make my dollar stretch further.

  • Ohhhh yes, this sums up my life! Haha, sometimes I worry about what would happen if I suddenly had a lot of money… Would I still have all my crazy adventures? Luckily (?) I’ll probably never have to find out!

  • Great inspirational post, thank you! 🙂

    Have a nice Monday 😉

    Lisa | Joy Della Vita Travelblog

  • Megan Indoe

    I love this post! I really like how you turned taking the long way into something positive. Although at the time I was taking the long way while traveling I was wishing I had Oprah’s wallet to just fly, but we would have missed out on seeing parts of a country we would not have seen elsewhere, peeing on the side of the dirt roads in the middle of the night with locals on those night busses, and I would have never gotten to sleep with a loose chicken right next to my head on that 9 hour bus ride in Laos. Those don’t sound glamorous but they sure were memorable moments that make me smile everytime I think of them!

  • Wonderful post..pretty inspiring too..and you are rocking the travel thingy..Miss Thing! Looking so fabulous as you gambol across the globe!

  • Katie Featherstone

    Thank-you! I love this 🙂 I have to say I’ve always been travelling broke by accident, but I love the side effects!

  • Ce Regn

    I totally agree, challenges make a person. You are such a beautiful person, keep going!