Today I’m happy to bring to you a guest post from Julia Kuhn at The Traveling Traveler. Below are some great tips on how to save money while working as a traveling professional, many of which Whitney and I employ ourselves!
As a travel therapist, you may receive more financial compensation than your permanent counterparts. This does not necessarily mean that you will have more money to pocket at the end of a week or month. As a traveler, you have more expenses than permanent employees, including maintaining a home in two locations and incidentals that you incur while traveling. You also may be tempted to live like a tourist and spend money exploring your new destination and doing costly excursions. For that reason, I found that it is important to be frugal and conscious about spending money and to cut expenses. Here are some simple tips on things that you can do to save money on the road.
- Take the Housing Stipend and Downsize Your Space
As a traveler, you can either have housing provided by your company and make less money per paycheck or take a housing/meals/incidentals stipend and find your own accommodations. I always chose to take the stipend and find my own housing at a minimal expense to me. When taking the stipend, you can maximize your money by paying less for accommodations. Opt for a studio instead of a 1 bedroom or consider a shared living situation with roommates. Perhaps you have a fifth wheel or RV, like Jared and Whitney, and can use that for your travels. Get creative and stay flexible with options.
- Buy in Bulk
Paying for a yearly membership to bulk retailers (Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s) has saved me countless dollars on food, goods and even gas as a traveler. Even as a solo traveler, I can buy items in bulk, store and move them with ease. I cannot purchase and store everything that I would like to buy, but I can pick and choose to save some big bucks. My favorite deals from bulk retailers are a $4.99 rotisserie chicken and 5 dozen eggs for $7.99.
- Pack Your Lunch & Coffee
Buying lunch and coffee from a cafeteria or restaurant adds up quickly. Even at a hospital, with an employee discount, lunches can run between $6-10. For this reason, I pack my lunches and make coffee at home. Buying in bulk and packing lunches has been a huge key to saving money while traveling.
- Shop Local Farmer’s Markets
Eating local and fresh produce across the country is a perk to traveling. Skip the grocery store mark ups by buying straight from the producer at local farmer’s markets. You can hand select your produce and have an opportunity to connect with the local community.
- Skip the Pricey Gym Membership
As a traveler, I have never paid for a gym membership. I have found that gym contracts can be very binding and difficult to break without penalty. I find creative ways to stay in shape and be healthy. I search the internet and social media for cheap group exercises classes that you can pay by the class. I have found great yoga and circuit training classes for $5 per class. I also take advantage of nature by hiking, running, rock climbing and walking for exercise. Occasionally, I have lived in apartment complexes or worked at hospitals with free gym access and have taken advantage of those opportunities as well.
- Find Happy Hour Deals
Going out to restaurants and bars can be a big consumer of money and something to avoid when you want to save money. When I choose to go out, I try to eat during happy hour deals. For example, on Tuesday’s some restaurants offer “Taco Tuesday” where they sell tacos for a dollar. Many restaurants also do half priced apps or food specials during the early evening before dinner rush (maybe 4-6). While going out for happy hour is still spending more money than you would be spending by eating at home, it is better than paying full price for something.
- Search for Free (or cheap) Community Events
The cost of entertainment and adventure can be expensive while traveling. To avoid spending money on “doing things,” I search the internet and social media to find events that are free or minimally priced. I have found many movie nights, festivals, music performances and hiking groups that have been either free or minimally priced.
As a traveling therapist, I follow some simple guidelines to avoid spending excess money while traveling. This has helped me to balance my life as a traveling therapist and somebody who likes to take off months of work at a time to travel for fun.
Julia Kuhn, MS CCC-SLP is a wanderlust Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in adult neurogenic rehab. She is the blogger behind www.thetravelingtraveler.com