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How I Can Afford to Travel: Five-Star Hotels to Five Dollars a Night

I’ve been traveling for six years, and the number one question I receive is about how I can afford to travel so often. Even my parents don’t fully understand it! I’m here to answer your questions about how I afford to travel the world on a long-term basis.

Five-Star Hotels to Five Dollars a Night: How I Can Afford to Travel

There’s always a little voice in the back of my head, and it’s never happy.

“What if you run out of money?” he asks. Frankly, it’s a good question.

My first four years of traveling, I worked in bars to afford it. I would spend three to six months working in a new city, saving up money, and then traveling for a couple of months before settling down for a while longer at a new job in a new city.

I still love working in bars, but I’m taking a hiatus to focus on personal projects while I travel. In fact, I was supposed to start a bar gig in Beijing in March, but that fell through, and I was left stranded in South America with no idea about what to do or where to go. My plans for the entire year had just hit the proverbial fan, but I accepted an invite from the Israel Ministry of Tourism and I’ve been blogging and freelancing full-time ever since then.

Somehow, I’ve managed to make it work.

Working MY way.

Working MY way. Ios, Greece.

I usually travel on my own dime, but the work I accept comes to me because of my travels and my blog. I’m not being paid to travel the world. I travel the world and I work at the same time.

Long-term travel means always having to watch my money and accepting an added component of risk. Because what if…?

It’s stressful sometimes. I don’t have an apartment to rely on and I don’t always know much money I’m going to make in a given month. Freelancing is a hustle–that’s the truth.

But, I get to see the world.

Manto de la Novia, Baños, Ecuador

Manto de la Novia, Baños, Ecuador. Photo credit: Brendan van Son

How I Save Money While Traveling

Sometimes traveling can be cheaper than living at home. But you should know that my travels aren’t usually filled with luxury hotels or private rooms. A single bedroom in New York City, for example, can easily cost $1,500 per month or more, but my entire monthly spend (food, water, accommodation, transport) is often that much alone.

When I travel, there are a few key strategies that I rely on to keep my costs down.

Stay in Hostels

Long-term travel is very different from a holiday. I rarely stay in hotels and usually opt to stay in a hostel. I much prefer them anyway–it’s a great way to meet other travelers and, when you’re traveling solo, you rarely feel like you’re alone (unless you want to be). Most nights I sleep in a shared room with 3-4 other travelers. The cost of these rooms? I’ve paid between $2.50 and $40 in various parts of the world.

Travel Slowly

By staying in one place for longer, you can take advantage of weekly or monthly deals at hostels or on short-term apartment rentals (click here for $35 off your first stay with Airbnb). When you’re constantly moving, you pay full price every night, plus you’re paying for transport on a more regular basis.

Travel in Affordable Countries

If you’re looking to go on a budget holiday, Paris is not the answer. Much of my travels have taken place in countries where the conversion rate is in my favor–places like Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe are all affordable destinations.


RELATED: How to Travel the World for 18 Months and Spend $1,038 on Accommodation


Cook for Yourself

Unless I’m in a place where food is both delicious and affordable (I’m looking at you, Vietnam), I’m cooking for myself. Unfortunately, traveling does not mean always mean staying in luxury hotels and eating at all the best restaurants. Sometimes it means eating bread for breakfast and bland pasta for dinner, but it’s worth it.

Live Minimally

I travel with very little. Everything I need fits into two backpacks, and I am able to live a happy and fulfilled life. I have one pair of shorts, one pair of pants, five t-shirts, and other basic necessities. The only things of value that I have are my laptop and camera gear. It’s all I really need.

Partner with Travel Brands

Because of the size of my blog audience, some of the work I do involves comped stays, activities, and tours; oftentimes I’ll get paid to write about or promote their services. Running this travel blog and working with travel brands on a freelance basis is part of the way that I’m able to afford my travels.

It means that I can continue bringing you the best content possible, but you should know that I always tell the truth about my experiences and I’ll never promote a company I don’t believe in.

Jeeping in the Jordanian desert. Wadi Rum.

Jeeping in the desert. Wadi Rum, Jordan.

Five-Star Hotels in Israel

As a general rule, I travel slowly. I’ll often stay in a hostel for a couple of weeks or rent an apartment for a short period of time. Sometimes, if I’m traveling more quickly, especially if I’m on a press trip, I sleep in a different bed every night.

Part of my recent trip to Israel involved staying in some of the country’s most prestigious hotels. The purpose of my trip was to show that Israel is still a safe and viable tourist destination. I was a guest of the tourism board, and I worked with some local companies, and for three full weeks my accommodations and tours were covered.

This is a job you get into for the perks, because you certainly don’t get into it for the money.


RELATED: How to Start a Travel Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide 


The media often skews the perspective of things in the Middle East, and while I was in Israel it became my job to showcase the best the country has to offer. (Side note: Israel is a totally safe and it is a viable tourist destination. You should visit!)

In an effort to keep us happy and well-rested, the seven of us, who were all invited, stayed in various four- and five-star hotels around Israel. I also partnered with some local providers for two weeks following the trip, and I stayed in some beautiful hostels and guesthouses like these.

David Citadel Hotel, Jerusalem

Cost: $600/night
Website: David Citadel Hotel

Royal Rimonim, Dead Sea

Cost: $300/night
Website: Royal Rimonim Dead Sea

Isrotel King Solomon, Eilat

Isrotel King Solomon, Eilat, Israel

Comfy room at the Isrotel King Solomon, Eilat, Israel

Cost: $200/night
Website: Isrotel King Solomon

Abraham Hostel, Jerusalem

Cost: $25-$130/night
Website: Abraham Hostel

Fauzi Azar Inn, Nazareth

Cost: $25-$130/night
Website: Fauzi Azar Inn

Five Dollars a Night in Egypt

After spending three weeks in Israel, and traveling to Jordan and Palestine from Jerusalem, the decision of where to go next was easy. If I was going to be in such close proximity to Egypt, I simply had to visit the Pyramids. I didn’t even question it.

With one week until my flight from Cairo to Greece, and with very little planned, I hopped aboard a bus from Jerusalem to Eilat, where I crossed the border into Taba, Egypt and take a bus to Dahab, in southern Sinai.

Views of the Red Sea from the Sinai coast of Egypt

Views of the Red Sea from the Sinai coast of Egypt

Dahab is a small tourist beach town on the Red Sea. The boardwalk is filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, and a plethora of accommodation options. Dahab is mostly well-known for its diving, especially the famous Blue Hole dive site. It used to be an Israeli beach destination (think: visiting the Hamptons for a weekend), but ever since the conflicts, the level of tourism has been paltry.

In fact, for five full hours on the bus, the only thing I could see from my window was half-built resorts that had been abandoned. One after another, hundreds of forsaken resorts were the only things that stood between the mountainous brown desert and the turquoise waters of the Red Sea. It was perhaps one of the most unique (and creepy) landscapes I’ve seen.

Empty resorts on the coast of Sinai

Empty resorts on the coast of Sinai

When I arrived in Dahab, I met a friend at a resort/hostel called Red Sea Relax. The hostel was essentially an apartment across the street from the resort, and we were allowed to use all of the facilities, including the pool. The price? $5 USD per night, and if we were diving (just $16 per dive–the cheapest I’ve found anywhere in the world), the hostel bed was free. Not a bad deal.

I spent an entire month of traveling in the Middle East and my total spent on accommodation was roughly $15.

This, of course, is not a common method of traveling, but as you can see, there are many different and affordable ways to do so. I have created a job for myself that allows me to travel, and I find ways to save money wherever I go.

Sunset in Dahab, Egypt

Sunset from the roof of my hostel in Dahab, Egypt

Traveling like this doesn’t make sense to many people; even my family doesn’t fully understand it. It’s not a traditional job, but many jobs these days are not. Through combining my business with my passions, I have built a life that I love. Whether it is working in a bar or working online, and whether I’m staying in a five-star hotels or a five dollar hostel, this is how I can afford to travel.


READ NEXT: The Realistic Way to Save Money for Travel

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18 Responses to How I Can Afford to Travel: Five-Star Hotels to Five Dollars a Night

  1. Sean July 7, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Great article. This is pretty much how I role, so to speak. It was on a kibbutz in Israel where it all started for me, back in 1995. The only significant thing thats changed in the way I live now is I am no longer doing it alone 🙂 Met my wife while working as a safari guide 6 years ago, and she is the same as me. Quality over quantity, we like to spend more time in a single place, and work there if possible, like a ski chalet in Austria. Got payed peanuts, but free food, booze and lift ticket for the entire season wasn’t a bad deal. Like you and Israel, we are trying to promote the area of Southern Africa as a still value for money tourist destination, together with the fact that there is no ebola here! It broke out closer to Europe than it did to South Africa.

    So yes, you have made it clear that getting rich while travelling and blogging is not easy, at all, but it still can at least pay for the necessities.

    • Jeremy Scott Foster July 8, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

      At the very least it can pay for the necessities, but above all else, it leads to a fulfilling life 🙂

      • Sean July 9, 2015 at 4:25 am #

        A fulfilling life I’m not about to give up for anything:-)

  2. Zascha July 10, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    I loved what you said in the beginning: “I’m not being paid to travel the world. I travel the world and I work at the same time”. 🙂

    • Jeremy Scott Foster July 11, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

      It’s a common misperception. Many people think there is somebody paying me to travel around the world, which is simply not true. I have worked hard, and continue to do so, for the sake of location independence.

  3. Zascha July 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    You’re so right, Jeremy. I’ve seen how much work you’ve put into this blog and social media. You can be well proud 🙂

    • Jeremy Scott Foster July 11, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

      Cheers, Zascha! I really appreciate that–it’s a thankless job. I hope you’re having a great weekend 🙂

  4. Ted July 13, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    Nice when things kind of drop in your lap. Look forward to reading about Israel. I agree with staying for some months in one place. I made the mistake of only hostels and spent too much money. This time I stumbled on a really nice room for 200€ a month in Pamplona that would allow me to cover the entire San Fermin Festival and keep my costs way down. I’m retired so don’t have to scratch up all expenses, a little bit of design work puts a few dollars in my pocket (or gets introductions).

    • Jeremy Scott Foster July 14, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

      That sounds like a great setup you’ve got. Israel was really interesting–you can read some of my previous posts if you’re looking for them. I hope you enjoyed San Fermin!

  5. Ian July 14, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Great article! Don’t forget you’re building an asset in the form of this blog. Your Israeli experience could be the start of a vivid awesome lifestyle business. My friend, Nick Onken does this stuff all the time and is in such demand now that he has to turn down work (nickonken.me).

    It seems to me that world travelers today should seek to maintain lives of long term travel while thriving financially and personally.

    • Jeremy Scott Foster July 14, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

      That’s 100% my goal, Ian! I’m constantly working to grow and build my brand, and hope to be able to turn down work some day soon 🙂 I will check out your friend Nick and see what he’s all about.

  6. Gemma Two Scots Abroad July 14, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    Travel slowly and be selective in where you choose to travel – wise advice. We experienced this in Cuba. Transport (collectivo taxis) are not cheap and the buses times are not always accurate and not advertised! We ended up doubling our daily budget and had to book into the all inclusive (madness!) in order to curb the spending. If we had that budget in Colombia (where we were previously) we would have lived like kings!

    • Jeremy Scott Foster July 14, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

      Oh no! It’s so important to do your research on local costs, though I can see why that would be much more difficult with Cuba. I hope to make it there soon!

      • Gemma Two Scots Abroad July 14, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

        Ah well we have lots of articles on location which are live on the site to help you in your planning. General advice articles coming soon.

    • Christie Hamilton November 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

      Wow we stayed in Cuba recently and we are a family of four and we stayed under budget. The collectivo taxis are dirt cheap if you speak a little bit of Spanish. We payed 1 dollar for four of us to head from el centro Havana to our casa about eight blocks away. And it was heaps of fun for the kids in the old cars. We would never pay all inclusive anywhere let alone Cuba. We stayed in a casa familiar, they are like homestays or BnB’s and very affordable. You do not stay in hotels in Cuba if you want to experience the people just go to them for the wifi. Loved the story on Isreal. We want to get there one day.

  7. Cacinda Maloney August 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    “I’m not being paid to travel the world. I travel the world and I work at the same time” that is me in a nutshell!

  8. The Educational Tourist August 21, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    What a wonderful opportunity you have created for yourself! Fantasic! Seeing the world on your own terms, perfect!

  9. Michelle January 26, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    Hey. We absolutely fell in love with your blog! We are right at the beginning but we would be thrilled if you could have a look at our site

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