Travel More: 5 Steps to Afford More Adventure In Your Life
There is a misconception that traveling can only be for the top 2% of the world – that you need to have a lot of money or that travel is expensive in itself. I absolutely hate being asked how I afford to travel so much. Not because I don’t like talking about money (I do), but because the people who are asking usually aren’t the ones who are actually interested in making it happen for themselves. The question usually comes from people who say it as a backhanded compliment. I will say that no, it’s not available to everyone but for the average middle-class person, it is possible to travel more; EVEN as a student, as a parent and as a person paying off student loans.
Since 2010, I have been on 9 official “trips” and countless weekends “road tripping” to the Rocky Mountains, camping, etc. These trips ranged anywhere from one weekend to six months! So, here are the ways that I personally manage to travel “so much.” Maybe you can incorporate them into your own life to help you afford to travel more often as well.
If you thought I would be giving you some magical fairy dust of an answer on how to travel more, you were wrong. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place. What’s the most obvious way to make money and fund your trips? Working. I work my butt off. I’ve never had only one job, now that I think of it. I currently work three jobs that bring in an income: I work for a nonprofit agency, I work in a group home and as an online health and wellness coach.
This has allowed me to simultaneously pay off an insane amount of student loans AND save up enough money to start me off on my travels in January, 2017. Even as a full-time university student I worked two jobs that, combined, had me working full-time hours. This is how I managed to travel more often; backpacking Europe and Southeast Asia, twice.
2. CUT OUT THE COFFEE/TEA/ALCOHOL
A quick drive through my local Tim Horton’s drive-thru had become a part of my morning routine from Monday-Friday. I would start my day off with a large tea, black like my soul in the morning. Then, in the afternoon I would probably grab a yummy Chai latte from the nearest Starbucks to get me through my afternoon classes or my last few hours of work. If I had to work in the evenings as well (which I often did), that would be another steaming hot cup of caffeine (at least!). $1.50 here, $5 there, I barely even noticed the amount of money I was spending on tea each day.
Then, the weekend would come along or one of the roommates had just broken up with her boyfriend so we obviously needed to buy a few bottles of wine to mend her broken heart. Seriously, in one week I was spending at least $20 on tea alone! How insane is that?! If you’re a tea or coffee drinker – switch to making it yourself at home. You can easily save an extra $60-80 bucks a month if your tea habit was as bad as mine. That’s over $700 a year! Same goes with alcohol: if you’re going to drink, do it at home and stop the binge drinking at the bar.
3. HAVE FUN FOR FREE
AKA, stop having fun. Haha, just kidding. But really – if you’re like me and work three jobs, there isn’t a whole lot of time for socializing and doing fun things on your “days off”. What is a day off, even?! That being said, please DO continue to have fun, see your friends and live your life. But watch where your money goes. A lot of fun activities start to add up fast: concerts, movies, sangria on a patio.
There are also a lot of fun activities that are absolutely, wonderfully FREE (or low cost): local bands in a pub, festivals and events in your city, camping, having friends over to make dinner instead of eating out. Learning how to say no to fun offers from friends (and be okay with it) can be hard, but always remember your long term goal of more travel!
4. MEAL PLAN
This might seem like a random tip but do you realize how much money gets spent from grabbing a quick bite to eat on the go at work or going out for dinner with friends? Meal planning has not only saved me tons of money but it’s helped me stay healthy. Before a new week begins, I plan out my meals and make a list of groceries needed. This way, everything that I buy, I use and little goes to waste. I meal prep before the week begins so that I have healthy and affordable meals to bring with me to work = money saved and in the trip jar!
A getaway doesn’t have to mean a luxury vacation – if you want to travel more, you need to travel in a way that is realistic for you. Are you a student? Start looking into study abroad opportunities within your program. That is how I lived in Barbados for six months! Do you have enough money for an international flight but not much else? Why not try out a Workaway program, where your accommodation is free in exchange for valued work. Or one of the many other ways to score free accommodation abroad? (You can get your free guide on budget and free accommodation at the end of this post!) Once you get there, ditch the overpriced tour and meet friends and locals on a free walking tour of your destination instead.
There are a number of ways to make travel possible – you might just need a little bit of creativity, a small dose of reality and a lot of hard work to get there. But trust me, once you’re sitting in the sand with a pina colada in your hand, it will be well worth it.