The Founders of Budget Your Trip Share How They Finance All Their Travel

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
Bryan with wife Laurie in Huangshan, Anhui, China

My name is Bryan Tighe, and I am a software and web developer and avid traveler. My wife, Laurie, and I are the co-founders of We are from North Carolina, where we currently live and run the company. Obviously, we enjoy traveling, but we also enjoy photography, running, design, gadgets, and spending time with our daughter. We are adventurous by nature, although for now we spend more time at home to raise our family and run our website.

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
in Beijing, China

How and why did you get into traveling?

Laurie and I both come from adventurous families, so it was only fitting that we began to travel together once we started dating. Before we were married, we would spend as much time as we could traveling or planning for trips, even though we both had full time jobs back then. Our first trip together was a road trip through the Southwestern United States during which we visited national parks such as the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Arches. The next year we backpacked through Italy for a few weeks, and the year after that we went through Central America on a very tight budget for a month. We planned all of these trips independently and it taught us that we could not only have a great time, but save money as well. Our trips progressively became longer as we took advantage of vacation time and our free time between jobs. When we got married, we spent several months in Southeast Asia on our honeymoon. We backpacked through Southern China and into Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia. That trip ultimately led us to plan a year-long trip around the world in 2009, which helped us formulate the idea for Since then, we have taken several more multi-month trips, but now that we’ve started a family, we have cut back on travel a bit (at least until our daughter is a little older).

Getting out the door can be the hardest part, because it requires two things that many people don’t have: time and money. Over the years we had to prioritize travel with regards to both of those things. Even if you save enough money, it can be tricky to manage being away from home for so long. And it gets even harder once you bring a child into the equation. However, planning a trip is one of the best parts of travel – at least for us. To do this, we use a combination of guidebooks (Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, etc.), travel blogs, maps, and transportation websites (Rome2Rio, EuroRail schedules, etc.). This is, of course, after we’ve viewed plenty of travel photos looking for inspiration about where to go and what to see. Ultimately, while planning our trips, we found a key resource was missing: a website that described how much stuff costs in various countries. During our trips we found ourselves asking other travelers about their budgets and what prices were like where they had already visited. One idea led to another and then, while we were traveling, we worked out the details of how such a website could work. Those ideas became the basis for our initial web app and our company.

When planning a trip, we also learned early on what we like and don’t like to do while traveling. For example, we’re not the type of people that can spend all day in a museum (unless it’s world-famous like the Louvre), so we’ve made a point to do things in destinations that we’ll enjoy. We try to take advantage of what every location offers, whether it be a city, a beach, or a national park. However, we’re honest with ourselves about our interests and expectations so that we don’t get bored or tired of a location. We love authentic food, local markets, old cities with interesting architecture, dramatic landscapes, diverse cultures, and that elusive “authentic feel” that some places have but that others have lost over the years.

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
in Taj Mahal, India

How do you finance your travels?

When we first began to travel, we financed everything ourselves by saving money for our trips. We prioritized travel over material goods. Although, I’m a gadget and techie type of guy, I resisted buying the latest iPhone or new camera every year. Instead, we put away lots of money into savings.

While traveling, we also aim to spend as little money as possible. By traveling like the locals and staying in low-cost places such as hostels or locally-owned guesthouses, it’s possible to spend a fraction of what other travelers might spend on a trip. Thus, the money lasts longer and the trip can be stretched out, allowing more immersive experiences. The amount we spend on each trip depends on the overall cost of travel in each country, and so we would often visit, or avoid, different regions of the world, or even certain countries, because of their prices. But at other times we made a point to see a place that we wanted to visit, even though it was expensive. In these cases we would plan ahead to spend our money only on the things that were important to us, and not be frivolous.

Now we are finally to the point where has grown enough to support our family. Therefore, we don’t have to support ourselves or our travels with full time jobs, although running the company does take a good bit of our time.

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
in Mali

Why is traveling important for you?

Travel is the one thing that a person can do that will truly open their eyes to the world. So many people in the world live in different ways to one another that it can be hard to envision someone else’s perspective. At a higher level, these differences are why we have so many political and economic differences in our own country, as well as across borders. But at a more personal level, connecting with other people from around the world can make us all more sympathetic, caring, and educated about everyone else on the planet.

And while that may sound very high-brow, I also enjoy traveling for the adrenaline rush of discovering something new and seeing a place that I had never imagined. Immersing myself in another culture, even for a short amount of time, is better and more intense than any story, movie, or book that I could ever read. We also have a passion for photography, and the hunt for a more interesting photograph also becomes part of the travel experience for us.

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
in Nepal

How do you bring your things with you?

When traveling as a “backpacker”, Laurie and I would each carry a large backpack (from REI) and a small backpack. My smaller bag was a Tamrac camera bag which contained most of our camera gear as well as a laptop. Laurie’s day pack carried other essentials like food, toilet paper, guidebooks, etc.

Generally, backpacks are easier to get around with because you don’t have to roll them on the ground like a suicase. In my experience, travelers who claim that they can always roll their suitcase anywhere they go are not actually going anywhere as adventurous as they could (no offense, guys). There have been times in Asia when we had to jump from one ferry boat to another, or times in Africa when our accommodation was on the other side of a shallow river. Rolling suitcases don’t make the cut here, and backpacks can be taken anywhere.

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
Badlands National Park, South Dakot, USA

How do you organize things in your bags?

I think the way you organize your bag is a reflection of your personality! If you’re an organized person, then you probably have it all worked out. I generally start with my bag organized, but after a few weeks it would all fall apart. I would try to put my dirty clothes on the bottom end of the bag by the lower opening, and keep the clean stuff at the top. Then I stick in the bathroom stuff, and put the towel on top to keep it dry (or at least I try to). However, as time goes on, you find that laundry just isn’t as important as other fun activities, and it all gets mixed up together.

Plastic bags are crucial for us, as they help separate everything while keeping important items dry. Swimsuits, wet shoes, shampoo bottles, and other things just need to be kept away from the dry clothes that you need every day. If I had to design my own backpack for traveling, it would have may different compartments instead of one large area. I think so many travelers are using backpacks designed for hiking and camping instead of traveling because such a backpack doesn’t seem to exist yet. Or at least not one that also has the same level of comfort when you load it on your back.

Rain covers for backpacks are also important, especially if you’re carrying electronics.

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

How do your bags and gear hold up?

Weight is very important. We’ve had trips where we overpacked and our legs and backs paid the price. Don’t be afraid to leave stuff at home, because you can buy it on the road. And don’t be afraid to either throw stuff away or ship it home, either. Do whatever you can to make your bag lighter!

Generally, our REI bags have held up well. I think it’s important to purchase a good quality bag up front. Spending an extra hundred dollars or so is a better long-term investment. So, when I say that you should be prepared to throw stuff away, that doesn’t mean that you should be frivolous about it!

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
in Ethiopia

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

I don’t think anyone should be afraid to packing too little, because everywhere you go (with a few exceptions), you can buy anything you need. Unless you’re camping in a remote area, just plan to bring the basics and buy more of what you need along the way. This can also include clothes and toiletries.

My only exception to that is probably camera equipment, where it can get very expensive in other locations. I probably carry too much of it and don’t always use everything that I carry with me. However, photography is something that is important to me and my wife. Again, it’s all about prioritization!

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
in Mykonos, Greece

What has been your best travel-related purchase below $100?

The best things that we’ve purchased for travel are the things that you don’t realize you need until you have it. For starters, a really good money belt has always been important to us because it keeps our money and passports safe like the Eagle Creek Hidden Pocket. We use one that loops onto a belt and then sticks down into your pants by your crotch. After all, if anyone reaches for your crotch, it’s very likely that you’ll notice!

Another item that we can’t live without is a small multi-plug surge protector from Belkin. Sometimes hotels or hostels don’t have enough plugs, so this little thing gives us more plugs to charge laptops, cameras, phones, and more. It has a small size and weight so that it packs very easily, too.

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
in Israel

What is your best advice for other travelers?

First of all, don’t wait. Go ahead and get out there. Make it a priority in everything you do, from your short-term finances to your long term future plans.

After that, I think my best advice for younger and beginning travelers is to open your mind to ALL destinations around the world. I hear so many younger travelers saying that they want to spend a summer traveling through Europe. Don’t get me wrong, Europe is great, but it’s only a small part of the world. And it’s expensive, too. Instead, there are amazing cultural experiences and cheap prices to be found in South America, Central America, Southeast Asia, China, India and Nepal, Africa, and more. Don’t be afraid of things like terrorism and kidnapping, because they are not nearly as prevalent as the media would lead you to believe. Look into the costs of traveling in places as a budget traveler or “backpacker”, and don’t be scared of that initial shock of being in a new culture. If you plan to stay in a hostel, other travelers will be there with you. You can often rely on them for travel advice and emotional support if needed.

Budget Your Trip Bryan and Laurie
Mount Sinai, Egypt

What will the future bring?

Right now we’re spending a lot of time at home raising our family. As for the future, we haven’t cured ourselves of the travel bug, so there will definitely be more trips. This past summer, we did a long road trip across the U.S. and Canada, which was easier to do with a young child than traveling abroad. More trips like this are in our short-term future until we can take on something a little more exotic and remote.

And I’m always dreaming about more camera gear! And camera drones are getting better every year, too, so that’s a very tempting purchase.

Visit Bryan Tighe with his wife Laurie on their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram

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