How I Afford to Travel…

Ever since I’ve started traveling and telling people about my experiences traveling, people often say things to me such as “I wish I could afford to travel”.  This is something that has always bugged me a little bit, and I’ve spoken to other travelers about this topic as well.  Most of the people I have encountered while traveling aren’t particularly rich or privileged.  They are just ordinary people like me, who work hard and save for the purpose of traveling.

First of all, I understand that not everyone CAN afford to travel.  But what bugs me is when people that I know COULD afford to travel if they wanted to, that they say they can’t.  I see people spending money on brand-name clothes, buying all the latest technology, eating out and going out all the time – who tell me they can’t travel because they don’t have the money.  I often feel that there is some assumption that people who travel a lot have some sort of advantage or privilege.  I think that I can speak for many of my fellow travelers that most of the time this is not at all true.  I understand we all have different lives and backgrounds and jobs, and it may be easier for some than others.  I also understand people may have obligations or jobs that won’t allow for travel, but if traveling is something you truly want, there are so many affordable ways to make it a reality! And if you consider the opportunities and do a little research, the cost of traveling really can be much more reasonable than you may think!

So how do I afford to travel?

I don’t have a high paying job, I’m not particularly rich or privileged, and no one but me is supporting my travels. I work hard at my job, and I am usually working on at least one other part-time job at any given time to make extra money.  The majority of my travel experiences have been long-term experiences – working, volunteering, and studying abroad, which has greatly helped limit the expenses and allow me to earn a profit.  Growing up, I was taught how to save and manage money so I always work hard to save for the bigger things that matter to me.  So despite not making a ton of money, I’ve been capable of affording travel because I put in that effort to do so.  So, if you really do want to make those dreams come true, here are some tips to make it happen:

  1. Decide what you want and make a plan: 
    If you really want to travel or have a particular experience,  decide to make it happen.  Maybe it’s not feasible at this given moment, but you can start planning and saving right now.  Once you decide what it is that you want, you can take it step-by-step and figure out what you need to in order to get there.  It’s also important to consider where you want to go, and the expenses you will have while you are there – for example, distance-wise going from the US to Australia is going to be much more expensive than going to Mexico.  Having a plan and mapping out what you need to do can help make your dreams much more reasonable.
  2. Make sacrifices and consider your spending habits:
    I put a lot of effort into saving money for the very purpose of travel.  This means that I save a lot on other things.  I don’t spend a lot of money on going out every weekend or buying new things all the time.  I have a cheap phone plan, and I still have an old Samsung smartphone, but it works.  I prefer to save on the material things and save for experiences.  So, if you truly want to save for travel, you will need to make some sacrifices in your spending on other things, whatever that may be.
  3. Find a Part-time Job or an Online Job
    I’ve always been interested in a lot of different things, and I enjoy exploring different fields so I tend to find myself getting a lot of side jobs or part-time work to make some extra money, and I actually enjoy them.  And through my explorations, I have found a ton of different ways to make money online!  I started working online the summer before I went to Thailand to teach.  I found out about a lot of cool opportunities to tutor English online to children and adults in other countries.  The first job I got was teaching/tutoring English to adults in Japan online.  If you research this, you can find plenty of opportunities to teach English online such as VIP Kid (and usually, all you need is to be a native English speaker and have a college degree!).  These jobs actually pay decent money and can be a great way to put aside some extra money for travel.  Another amazing way to make money online is by freelancing.  I recently started working as a freelance writer for several different online platforms.  One of the most well-known of these platforms is Upwork.  There is a vast range of jobs to be found online through Upwork ranging from Engineering and Architecture to Language Translation.  I work on Upwork doing writing work, but a full list of job categories can be found here! Do your research and you’ll find there are numerous opportunities out there – and the best part is, you can do most of these jobs while traveling (so you can earn an income while abroad)!
  4. Consider Opportunities for Long-term Travel
    If you expect your travels to be full of all-inclusive resorts, fancy cuisine, pre-planned travel itineraries, and expensive tours, it will probably be a lot harder to afford travel.  Depending on where you are going, where you are staying, what you are doing at particular places, and so forth… the costs are going to vary greatly.  The truth is some places are simply going to be much more expensive than others, so you need to consider that when planning for travels.  Despite this, there are plenty of opportunities out there which can greatly reduce your expenses while traveling no matter where you go.  If you are considering long-term travel, consider programs for teaching, studying, or volunteering abroad.  An excellent resource to find various types of programs is Go Abroad.  An amazing resource which I have used is Work Away which has numerous opportunities for part-time volunteer work in exchange for free accommodation and meals.  There are also so many amazing opportunities for teaching abroad which pay really good salaries (some will even pay for your plane ticket and housing!) Find more sources of information for traveling on my Resources page.
  5. Stay at hostels!
    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I love staying at hostels! It seems (particularly coming from the US) that hostels are often given a bad rap or thought of as dirty or sketchy places.  I’ve found that as long as you do some research and check the Hostelworld reviews, you almost always can find really great and cool places to stay for cheap rates!  Of course, hostels aren’t as common everywhere (such as many places in the US).  They have a great atmosphere and are overall a great way to meet interesting people and find travel buddies wherever you go (especially if you are traveling alone).  And trust me, you’ll have way more fun staying at a hostel than a hotel if you are solo traveling!
  6. Research and Plan:
    Researching and considering the opportunities available can really help you to get good deals and make the most out of your trip or travel experience.  There are so many factors to consider when planning for a trip – from the best times to buy plane tickets, places to stay, how long you want to stay, and so forth.  But if you really take the time to plan those things out you can easily make for an affordable or even profitable travel experience!

    There are so many amazing opportunities out there not only to travel – but to travel on a budget or even make a profit.  If you put in the time and effort, you can make your dreams of traveling a reality!

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