Do you have a big pile of cash just laying around? You’ve been wondering what to spend it on for some time now. A big house? A fancy car? But you travel part or most of the year. Physical items that can’t leave the continent (easily) don’t make much sense.
Ok, so I don’t have a lot of money to burn either.
Full-time travelers aren’t saving for the traditional big-ticket items. Not that they can’t afford them, it just doesn’t make sense to have a lot of stuff or property that spends most of the year (or years) in storage.
Even if you don’t have hoards of dollars laying around, you might be in the market travel-specific investments. These are luxuries to save up for that’ll pay off when you’re on the go.
Quality is Key
We’re all about spending a little extra to get a quality product, whether that means a backpack, durable socks or the right coat.
For starters, you should invest in a great bag for your needs as well as research the right credit card of you. Fred’s post on the topic offers a variety of options. Neither of these have to be expensive, but being intentional is key. Figure out exactly what you need and spend the money to get it right.
This is paramount if you’re a digital nomad. Buying it at home before you leave means you have the luxury of time to shop and test it instead of navigating the genius bar in a second language. It would be worth it to splurge on something a little lighter with more memory since you’ll be shlepping it. Cloud storage is also worth its weight in gold to back up your exotic photos and work docs.
International Phone Plan
You’ll find yourself spending some extra cash for an international phone and data plan. Shop your cell phone provider and compare to others. T-Mobile’s International Plan unlocks over 70 countries without having to swap SIM cards. You land, and it just works. Do your research. Your phone bill will look different from your sister’s who lives in the US year-round. For emergencies and keeping in touch with your mom, it’s worth it.
This another worthwhile investment for those who hate lines, which includes pretty much everyone. For $100 you join the program for 5 years and get perks like expedited customs and PreCheck on your way through security.
We’re not talking about tattoos here, although a sleeve of ink could be an investment that travels well too. Theses are more health and cosmetic-related ideas.
Lasik Eye Surgery
If you wear contacts or glasses, lasik eye surgery could be a game changer. For some, losing glasses or running out of contacts would be a true emergency. Trying to fill your prescription abroad or having eyeglasses repaired is a huge pain. Imagine a world without 3 oz bottles of contact solution and waking up in the morning to read the alarm clock easily!
Lasik is not cheap- the price ranges depending on the type of eye ailment you suffer from. It could be worth it to go swimming without worrying about losing a contact, or SCUBA diving without needing a prescription mask. Talk to your optometrist to see if lasik is an option.
Laser Hair Removal
Speaking of lasers, throwing down some cash for laser hair removal is an option. While it’s almost impossible to justify it by calculating how much you spend on razors and shaving cream, it’s a treat. Anything to spend less time in a grimy hostel shower, right?
Laser hair removal can cost as little as $99 for a small area of your body. Look for a groupon and wait until the holidays when they run competitive sales. Plan ahead on this one, since most of the time it takes 6-8 months of monthly treatments to see full results.
Air and rail passes can be big money savers, but you have to do your homework and plan carefully to make sure that you’ll use them enough to offset the upfront cost.
American Airlines has AirPass directed to Business Customers (you have to spend at least $10,000 a year). This program provides a discount for last-minute travel. While it’s not a cheap ticket by any means, it could be a better deal for someone who picks up and goes last minute.
Asia Air also offers a “pass” price for booking a complicated itinerary within their network although there isn’t a flat pass price. While you have to commit to a set schedule, there’s savings to booking it all at once. Get on Air Asia’s mailing list and they’ll send regular updates with discounts and deals. They occasionally run promotions where there’s a “pay one price for unlimited flights within a month” that can be a huge boon if you’re in the right place at the right time.
While the airline industry hasn’t caught up with the all-inclusive memo, Eurail is on the train (pun intended). You can purchase unlimited travel within a country, region or the entire network. For a three month continuous pass it’s $1192 USD, but you could really get bang for you buck if you plan it just right.
In the US, Amtrack offers a few pass options for so many segments in a number of days. For example, you can travel 12 segments in 30 days for $689USD. I can tell you from experience these trains aren’t necessarily the fastest way to get there, but isn’t there something romantic about crossing the country on a train?
The Japan Rail Pass includes unlimited rides on trains, buses and ferries all over the country for $475 for 21 days. It feels like a chunk of cash up front, but simplifies moving within the country.
Places to Stay
If you have a favorite place to visit during a popular (read:expensive) time of the year, consider a timeshare. “Owning” a share of property could mean saving a lot of money on hotels if you can time your travel right- plus, you don’t have to maintain a vacation home.
Some offer the option to see a lot of different places instead of always going back to the same beach. Pricing also depends on how swanky of a place you want and how much time you plan to spend there. Plan on all your relatives asking you if they can use it for their honeymoons.
Moving around often and to pretty popular cities? Similar to timeshares but typically cheaper and more flexible, vacation clubs offer stays and activities for discounts. Most are through major hotel chains, for example Marriott has a highly rated program with stays and cruises in Europe, the Caribbean and North America. While this limits travelers to countries in their network, they offer planning support and perks like upgrades to members.
If you’re feeling left out the club because you can’t fork over $19,000 for a timeshare in Hawaii, no fear! For $80 you can get an unlimited pass the the US National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands. While it doesn’t cover camping, you still get free admission to parks all over the country!
So what have you spent some money on that’s paid for itself while traveling? Please share in the comments!
Frequent travel means different priorities. We’ve brainstormed some costly items that could improve your travel experience. These splurges cover it all, from simplifying your daily routine, to reducing flight costs, and saving big bucks on lodging.
- Upgrading your technology
- Laser surgery or treatment
- Investing in Air or Rail Passes
- Buying into a timeshare or vacation club
Image: Negative Space (Stocksnap)