It is most likely the biggest battle… I often find myself annoyed when people tell me they’re jealous of all of the traveling I have done or say how badly they wish they could be doing the same things as me. I don’t understand why other people can’t do the same things? In my opinion, if you want something badly enough then you can find a way to obtain it. I definitely didn’t win the lottery or come into a large sum of money at any point in my life (although that would have been ideal). I simply decide where I am going, what I am doing and I save for it.
If you ask my parents or grandparents they are going to tell you I have a shopping problem and am in no position to be giving financial advice. I would agree that they’re probably right; the second I get paid it burns a hole in my pocket and it has been like this forever. All of this aside… I have gotten better. I have found ways to travel cheaply in the past and I have found ways to save money for travel that work for me.
The first volunteer trip I took was to Peru in 2010 and I was able to fundraise the entire portion of the trip. I chose to go to Peru because I had wanted to volunteer in a different country for a very long time and Peru was also a country I found intriguing. The fact that I could fundraise was a bonus. The second volunteer trip was through the same organization a year later and took me to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since this was my second year volunteering through Solidarity Experiences Abroad I was able to apply to be a trip leader, which knocked off half of the cost as well as fundraise on top of that. Brazil ended up costing me next to nothing and was an amazing experience as I worked with incredible people in the favellas, learned about a new culture, and made lifelong friends.
The last big trip I took was to Australia. I decided to become a live-in Au Pair, which meant I lived full time with a family in Melbourne and was a caregiver for three boys. Au Pairing was great because I didn’t have to pay for my rent, food, gas, car, or cell phone. I did not make a lot of money for the actual job itself as all of these other things were paid for, which was fine because I was there for the experience. I worked Monday to Friday but usually had weekends free and when I needed extra money I was able to babysit for other families on the side. The extra money I made went towards my shopping problem, traveling Australia, or doing things in Melbourne with my friends.
While in Australia I did a lot of traveling outside of Melbourne. I met a lot of people from all over the world who were backpacking and I learned a lot from them on saving money while on the road. I met a backpacker from Italy who was working at the hostel we stayed at in Hobart, Tasmania in order to have a free room. He was also planning on finding a job picking apples somewhere in Australia after that. I had also met a Canadian girl, a Danish girl, and an Irish guy who ended up traveling together and were hitching a ride with two Australian backpackers to Perth. I then saw from Facebook that they had made it to Perth and were couch surfing and looking jobs there at one point. In my last two weeks living in Australia, I had met and fell for an American. He had spent a year working on an organic farm in Costa Rica, a year and a half working and living in New Zealand, and was serving in Melbourne before going on a road trip up the East Coast, which at the time of this post he is currently still doing. There are so many opportunities out there to combine work and travel or save money on the road.
My saving technique in order to get to Australia was a method my friend told me about and it really worked. I went to the local Wal-Mart and purchased my own safe to keep in my bedroom. I then bought a box of envelopes and on each envelope I wrote what I was saving for, for example, “travel insurance”, “Australia plane ticket” etc. I put a card in each envelope and recorded the date and how much money I was adding each time, this way I would feel guilty if I took from it. I was a waitress at the time and I threw all of my cash tips in these envelopes. When I had lots of coins I would put them in a big jar and then roll them afterwards. I had four months to save for Australia and I was able to pay for everything as well as have a decent amount of money for when I arrived. It also helps to set goals! Set a date and decide that you want to have a specific amount of money put away by that date. I did this for Australia and I am doing it again for my next big trip. It works.
It is important to consider all of the costs that go along with a big or even small trip. In regards to Australia, I left travel insurance to the last minute. When I finally made the call to buy it a few days before I left I was shocked to find out it was nearly eight hundred dollars (thank goodness I saved). One thing I didn’t know (at first) was that you needed to have at least five thousand dollars in the bank in order to enter Australia on a one year working-holiday visa, which could be a massive shock to someone who didn’t know upon arrival. Speaking of the different types of visas for living or working in countries all over the world… they’re pricey too.
As much as I want to save every penny I make, I think it is also important to be realistic. You’re not going to save enough money to travel the world overnight. You also still need to have somewhat of a life during the time that you’re saving. I am saving to travel the world but I also just booked a mini road-trip to Chicago & Moline, Illinois with a friend. I would slip into a depression if I didn’t have a social life or take mini holidays here and there.
Don’t forget one of my favourite quotes of all time… “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” This couldn’t be truer. Yes, travel is expensive and if you look at it from this perspective then money shouldn’t matter. To me, travel is my passion and I don’t care how much money I have to spend to pursue it. I want to meet new people, experience new cultures, try new food, see new and amazing landscapes, and I will do whatever it takes in order to get there (except be a stripper and/or anything along those lines). If you want it then you will make sacrifices. I have stopped partying and spending my money on things that no longer matter to me. I don’t buy clothes, wear them once and then toss them out like I used to. I don’t blow all of my money at the liquor store or at the bar on a night I most definitely won’t remember anyways. I am currently working two jobs, living at home with my parents, and saving as much money as possible with the help of my ‘safe/envelope’ system. I also find ways to work and travel (such as au pairing and potentially teaching English) and have met tons of other people along the way who are doing the same. It is not impossible, it just takes a little extra work and a lot of passion.
- BE PASSIONATE & POSITIVE
- Make sacrifices (stop spending money on things you don’t really need)
- Be realistic (it won’t happen over night & you can’t completely give up your social life and other financial needs)
- Consider all costs in advance (travel insurance, visa costs, airport taxes, plane tickets, spending money etc.)
- Find ways to work while you travel (teaching english, au pairing etc)
- Find different money-saving techniques that work for you
- Set goals
- While on the road… stay/work at hostels, couch surf (as long as it is safe) etc.
- DON’T GIVE UP