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If you’re trying to pay off debt, save money, or just live a more frugal life, you’ve probably wondered if you should spend money on travel.
Is it okay? Should you feel guilty for indulging? Shouldn’t you spend your money on something more practical?
In this post, I’ll show you five reasons why you should spend money on travel (and why you shouldn’t feel guilty about it).
Is Traveling Worth the Cost?
The short answer is it depends.
We love to travel, and for us, it’s the primary reason we’re striving for financial independence – so we can do more of it. We’ve made travel a priority and once we’re debt-free, it’s where we’ll spend most of our money.
If you love traveling, the answer is yes. It is worth the cost.
Being frugal doesn’t mean never spending money (i.e. being cheap). It means spending less money on things that don’t add value to your life, so you can spend more money on things that do – like traveling.
Now, let’s look at some of the reasons you should spend money traveling:
1: Travel Enriches Your Life
A cup of Starbucks every day doesn’t add much value to your life. You get the same reward from brewing a cup of coffee at home. If you took $2.00 every day and put it into a savings account instead of buying coffee, you’d have $730 at the end of the year – more than enough to take a frugal vacation.
Coffee is just an example, but I’m sure you can find something you’re spending money on that doesn’t really enrich your life.
Take that money and save it for travel.
When you visit and explore new places, you gain perspective that you would otherwise never have. You become more open to differences and more adaptable to change, more empathetic, independent, and more interesting. You learn new things and meet new people that can completely change your outlook on the world.
And you don’t have to travel abroad to gain these benefits. The United States is such a huge country, you could spend your whole life traveling to different states and always have something new to see or experience.
Travel changes you for the better, and it truly enriches every aspect of your life.
2: Travel Creates Lasting Happiness
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “money can’t buy happiness.” It can’t, but spending money on travel can bring you lasting joy.
A study from Cornell University found that spending money on experiences (not things) brings more happiness because these types of purchases:
- Enhance social relations
- Form a bigger part of a person’s identity
- Evoke fewer social comparisons than material purchases
In fact, the study found that happiness with experiential purchases increases over time. The more you think about and talk about a trip you took, the more joy you get from the experience. When you buy things, you become less happy about your purchase over time.
Spending money on travel is an excellent investment in your overall happiness and mental wellbeing.
You don’t have to spend a fortune, either. Even local travel – like visiting a nearby park and having a picnic – will boost your happiness more than a trip to the mall.
3: Travel is Good for Your Health
- Lower the risk of heart disease
- Relieve stress
- Reduce anxiety
- Lower the risk of depression
- Increase cognitive function
Travelers are also more physically active. You move your body much more when you’re sight-seeing and packing in fun activities than when you’re just sitting around. On our last vacation, we literally walked about 10 miles a day, and I don’t even get close to that on a normal day at home.
4: Travel Improves Your Relationships
It’s not just your health. Traveling makes your relationships healthier too. Exploring new places with your spouse or partner deepens your bond and creates lasting memories.
Traveling couples grow and learn together while building a story better than any fairy tale. It’s you against the world out there, and sharing that excitement and adventure brings you closer together. I believe the trips Andrew and I have taken together are part of the reason our marriage is so strong.
When you’re on the road together, you’ll see all your partner’s flaws. But you’ll also gain a deeper appreciation for them as a person. You’ll learn to work together, communicate, compromise and forgive. You can focus on being present with each other without all the distractions of every day life.
5: Travel Makes You Better at Work
If you take time off work to travel, you’ll be more productive with higher morale when you get back. Burnout is real. If you don’t get out and experience something new occasionally, you’re much more likely to mentally check-out at work.
According to Project Time Off, American workers who take all of their vacation time each year perform better, enjoy higher productivity, and greater job satisfaction. But you probably don’t need a study to tell you that’s true. Don’t you always feel more refreshed when you go back to work after a vacation?
It’s sometimes harder to go back to work after a long trip, but once you drag yourself into the office, you’ll do a better job.
Travel vs. Saving Money
Now that you’ve seen all the benefits, you might wonder if you should travel instead of saving money.
Why not do both? There’s no rule that says you can’t save money for retirement or emergencies and travel.
The only exception is if you have debt. My advice is to make paying off debt a priority.
Once you’re debt-free, you’ll have plenty of money to travel all you want! Create a savings account, setup a savings goal, and start planning your next trip.
If you have a lot of debt to pay off, plan a few mini frugal vacations as rewards throughout your journey to keep yourself motivated. Here are some ideas:
- Go to local tourist attractions you’ve never experienced.
- Drive a town or two away to experience something new while keeping your costs down.
- Take a week off work and go do everything in a fifty-mile radius you’ve always wanted to do.
- Spend the weekend in the capital city of your state, and go to free or low-cost attractions.
Should You Spend Money on Travel?
YES! YES! YES!
Spending money on travel is an investment in a better life. It improves your happiness, physical and mental health, the health of your relationships, and your productivity at work. Very few other things you spend money on can give you those results.
What’s your opinion? Do you think travel is worth the cost? Leave a comment below and let us know!