A question we get asked all the time by friends and family is how do we afford to travel so often and for such long periods. Well it's not because we made a lot of money before we left home or because we have secret online jobs. The boring answer is we are good at budgeting.
We are religious about avoiding eating out. This saves us a ton of money! Other advantages of not eating out is that you ensure you are eating healthy (because let's face it, when you eat out you tend to make bad food choice's), and you are also able to estimate how much you will need per week to feed yourself and therefore predict how long you can afford to keep traveling. Of course we do treat ourselves every now and then and make exceptions to our own rules on some occasions. For example, we have a weakness for visiting breweries we haven't been to, we enjoy trying local cuisine that is representative of the region we are visiting, and we like to see what all the fuss is about when it comes to those much talked about restaurants. But in doing so we know we have earned it and we know it's not going to break the bank. Now I'm not suggesting you follow a strict budget if you are only here on a short holiday. If you are holidaying go all out and make the most of every meal and moment! This post is intended to be an example on how little you can actually get by on for those who are wanting to travel for an extended period of time. Even if you would really like to come to the USA for a short visit but don't have much money saved, you can still afford to come here on an adventure if you are willing to sacrifice a little on eating out. I promise it's worth it.
Below is our grocery shop for this week. You can see we were still able to buy everything an ordinary person would normally purchase for a week's worth of home cooked meals. Our grocery shop is not filled with two-minute noodles or peanut butter sandwich's (which we have previously tried to live off in attempts to save money) because we have found that we tend to be a lot hungrier when we try to live off processed foods and therefore more likely to eat out. Below you will see how we are able to get by on an average of $5 per day.
OUR GROCERY SHOP
This grocery shop will last us at least a week (possibly longer). Between two people that equals to $35.97 per person. Now if we break this figure down further we can see this comes to
$5.13 per person per day which covers breakfast, lunch and dinner. This figure is pretty great if you ask me and is cheaper than what we spend on eating out in some of the third world countries we have visited. What's also great about this grocery shop is we didn't have to sacrifice eating healthy.
MEALS YOU CAN MAKE WITH THE ABOVE INGREDIENTS
Obviously if you are travelling through, or are based in a city like San Francisco, Los Angeles or Seattle, the grocery bill may be a little higher. This is why we tend to avoid being in cities for extended periods (along with other reasons of course). In these cases you need to shop around and make sure you find a grocery store with reasonable prices. We have found that the Winco grocery store has the best prices. Trader Joe's is also a favorite of ours. Also, if you are in California or Nevada the 99 cent store has been pretty helpful and even sell fresh fruit and vegetables along with wine! Make sure you stock up on all your favorite foods as this will ensure you are not tempted to eat out. Yes you will spend more money at one time but it will actually save you money in the long run.
If you have any of your own tips or advice on saving money or helpful hints about living on the road, we would love to hear about them in the comments below!
By Arial Evans
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Two Aussies road-tripping across the USA. Our goal is to discover America's wild places and vibrant cities... and make the most of every moment. Read more