This is the number one question I get asked about how I travel…how do I afford it? I’ve circled the world multiple times, visited beautiful foreign places and can still afford to have a comfortable life. I’ll be honest, I bent over backwards while living in the USA to be able to afford to live abroad. I worked 70+ hour weeks and had no social life but in the long run it was all worth it. Now with living in New Zealand, a country that has a decent minimum wage, I’m able to relax and enjoy my life. I also don’t own a car or a bed so my weekly expenses are quite low. I’m currently able to save roughly $8000 USD a year to further fund my travels. All while still being able to enjoy my every day life. Some of you may think this is totally impossible! But here’s some of the ways that I was able to save in order to fund my wanderlust and spend most of my time currently exploring our amazing world.
Norway, Australia, England and New Zealand…just some of the many places I’ve been!
Cut Down on Material Possessions
I know in most cities you need to own a car but this is the first thing I cut out of my life. Now I haven’t owned a vehicle in over 2 years and therefore haven’t had those expenses. Same goes for the fact that I literally live out of a suitcase. I don’t have to buy/sell furniture ever and the most I ever buy is candles for my room. All I own is what fits in my bag! Even my clothes are all basics that I can mix and match. I occasionally treat myself to something new, but I can buy 5 new dresses in Cambodia for $5 or 1 in the US for $20, you do the math of which is better value. I’m sure many people can’t get down to this basic until they are travelling full time. But instead of buying a new poster for your wall or a new cookie jar, put that $10 towards your travels!
My first time home in almost 2 years and all I owned was in that backpack
Set Realistic Goals
Let’s be real…you won’t see or do everything immediately. You don’t have millions of dollars to stay at 5 star resorts in the Maldives every night or eat at Michelin star restaurants for every meal. So work towards something you know you can achieve. My first real trip on my own was Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia. I knew all these countries were relatively cheap so I’d be able to save less compared to travelling countries in Europe for example. I was able to travel Southeast Asia for almost 2 months on only about $1000 USD which most people spend on a one week vacation in the states! Also you’re not gonna save $1000 a month, so don’t make that a goal. Set something you can realistically attain like $20-50 a week and you’ll gradually have enough saved to start travelling the world!
Do Your Travel Research
Based on the places you do want to go, start doing some research to find the most cost effective ways of travelling there. This won’t be a trip to the next state over so you need to consider things like visas and vaccines before you book anything. I always do loads of research before I go visit anywhere. When I went to Amsterdam in August 2017, hotel rooms were starting at 200 euros a night. So I did some digging and found that bed & breakfasts are actually way cheaper! We stayed at the Herengracht 21 Bed & Breakfast for only 145 euros a night and had a spectacular room overlooking the canals in a historic Amsterdam home. There’s loads of ways to make your money stretch further around the world. You just need to do some research ahead of time.
Our beautiful bed & breakfast in Amsterdam
Do Work Exchanges/Volunteering for Free Food & Accomodation
If you want to travel to foreign countries but are struggling to save then look at doing volunteer work. Generally this results in you not having to pay for your bed or meals. This is a great way to help poor communities for 2 weeks in Africa or teach English somewhere in Asia. You’ll have your meals covered, a bed and be able to experience the local culture while staying with your host family. I’ve done a few of these with Workaway and had an amazing time and only had to cover getting to and from my destination! There is a yearly small fee to join them but it’s totally worth it. Some hosts do charge a fee as well (maybe $5 USD a day) but loads are free as well! This is a great alternative so you can travel without having to spend much. *Note that some countries require visas to volunteer so make sure to check this first*
I had a pet goat almost everywhere I worked and volunteered in New Zealand
Stop Worrying and Just do it!
You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t just take the plunge and do it. I’ve given advice to so many others who want to travel far and wide but are afraid to or don’t think it’s possible due to money issues. If you set your mind and savings to it though than travelling the world is totally doable. Start small and begin crossing places off your list or save loads for a while and leave for a whole year! Either way, you can absolutely afford to travel our great big planet and experience all it has to offer.