We love saving money and finding cool new things to do while saving. We had the chance to chat with traveling blogger, Havyn Johnson, Founder of 20 Something, Broke, and Traveling.
On The Money: What is “20 Something, Broke & Traveling?
Havyn Johnson: 20 Something, Broke and Traveling is a lifestyle! In college it was always me and a small group of friends, all of us 20 something years old. Most of us worked together at the same part time job where we met, therefore we all had similar pocket sizes. We all shared the same urge to travel and see new things whether it be a road trip, a weekend getaway to the beach or an international experience. One day my friend Shameka and I were sitting down trying to find a title to describe this life and came up with 20 Something, Broke and Traveling to specifically note how inexpensive traveling can be.
OTM: What made you start blogging?
Havyn: I started the blog to really focus on my upcoming trip to Europe where I will be moving for 3-6 months but also to be able to share with others how affordable travel can be, and my tips, tricks, and secrets.
OTM: What inspired you to travel the world despite the amount of money in your wallet?
Havyn: My inspiration for travel started when I went to Paris through an exchange program. I had a french family, went to french school (even on Saturday), improved my language skills, ate french food, and loved every bit of it! It wasn’t until my college days that I started planning trips on my own, I had my own money and didn’t need my parents approval. But, I started at one of the most expensive places, the travel agency. Once I began literally just googling everything and realizing the price difference, I knew I would be planning all my own trips.
I had no idea how to plan an international trip on my own so I used the agency to get advice on traveling abroad, never paid them a dime though.
OTM: How important is it to have a checking or savings account when traveling on a budget?
Havyn: It is extremely important and can’t be stressed enough that it is necessary to have a checking and/or savings account when traveling. I always start with $100-$150 cash for incidentals or places that may not take credit cards like souvenir shops, cabs or the local crepe stand. If you’re traveling internationally it can be a matter of life or death. You always want to be able to access those accounts through WiFi to move money around, withdraw money, etc. Also, always let your bank know if you’re leaving your state or country of residence.
OTM: How old were you when you opened your first checking/savings account?
Havyn: Honestly, when I first had a checking or savings account I was probably 10. [My account was] under my parents'. By the age of 12 my dad purchased certificate of deposits and shares of stock with Disney and McDonald's for my sister and I so we would understand EVERYTHING about money.
OTM: Do you have a daily budget that you set for yourself?
Hayvn: I do not have a daily budget, most of my money goes to traveling. To catch a good deal I have to be ready to buy it then and there because they go fast! If there aren’t any deals [available] then my money is being saved, no ifs, and, or buts. I never go longer than 2 months without traveling. The travel deals decide my next destination. Having flexibility is really important to making traveling affordable.
OTM: How do you budget for food and accommodations?
Havyn: Depending on the length of stay, the exchange rate, and how many people I travel with affects the budget. Typically, for food it’s no more than $150. That’s more than enough for one trip to the local grocery store, one expensive dinner to splurge, and snacks or “must try” food items for the week. Accommodations are a little bit different but again depending on the number of travelers, we all set a top dollar that we’re willing to pay and then go from there. The more people that travel, the cheaper the expenses, (like accommodations) will be.
OTM: Where was your first destination that you traveled to since being a traveling blogger?
Havyn: Since being a travel blogger my first destination was Toronto, Ontario in Canada. It was a spur of the moment trip, planned about 3 days before departure. Those “get up and go” adventures can work in favor of your wallet sometimes! Remember flexibility is key!
OTM: What has been your cheapest trip so far?
Havyn: My cheapest trip where I got the best bang for my buck was Canada! We drove, in a fuel efficient car of course, so that helped out a lot with expenses. We were able to bid for a hotel on PriceLine for about $40/night and on top of that for once the exchange rate was in our favor. Everything was cheaper in Canada. Our total expenses for 3 days and 4 nights was $310 split by 2 of us so approximately $155. This price factors in transportation in Canada, hotel stay, and travel expenses to and from Canada. Depending on how much of a shopaholic you are or actual sights you may want to see could add to that amount. This is the cheapest international trip place I traveled to. Throughout all of the trips I have taken, international trips have been more affordable than trips in the states (unless I’m going just a few states over).
OTM: When traveling where do you usually stay?
Havyn: When traveling I always always always start with Airbnb. It’s an app where people list their places or rental properties for you to stay, mostly always at a price more affordable than a hotel. Some people would never do this especially in a foreign country, I’ve been called crazy before for doing something like this, but it’s important to remember travel is different than vacation.
I’m never in that 5 star resort on the side of the beach getting a massage, “ubering” around everywhere. I’m the person that rents out a whole house or apartment for the week hopping on and off public transportation, conversing with the locals. Where you stay can alter your experience entirely.
Not saying I don’t appreciate finer things because you always have to make time to pamper yourself as well, but I wouldn’t be able to splurge on that expensive dinner or do anything if the majority of my money went into where I stayed. I travel to explore the country, not the inside of a resort and many times the house I rent is a lot more spacious than a stuffy hotel bedroom. With Airbnb many times the host will also give you the scoop of the best restaurants, hangout spots, free breakfast or even just the cheapest way to do things.
OTM: What apps or online services do you use to help you travel on a budget?
Havyn: To travel on a budget I use apps such as Airbnb, Vrbo, and Priceline to find places to stay. I use Google, Groupon and Trip Advisor to locate things to do in that particular location. For flights deals I mostly search Google Flights. However, I am also part of an extensive travel family called Travel Noire where we share deals, experiences and where we’re able to meet up with people in other countries, so it never really feels like you’re out there alone.
OTM: How important is money to you?
Hayvn: Money is very important to me whether I’m thinking about making it, spending it, or saving it, I’m always thinking about it. You always want to be wise with your money. I’m at the point in life where I battle between 'Live each day like it’s your last.' & 'Live as if you’ll live to see another day.'
If there is something you really want and can’t stop thinking about it, take the time and SAVE.
One thing I have never done is taken out a loan. In that event, l would probably save at least half of what I wanted to purchase and pay off the rest in installments before any interest accrued. I have always been careful, smart, and strategic when it comes to money.