So, you’re not a superstar blogger who gets paid to travel, and you didn’t win the lottery or be given your grandma’s million-dollar inheritance. You work full time and have a deep passion for seeing the world. How do you manage to do this with a limited budget?
This is a question I get asked all the time. When I tell people I have traveled as much as I have, they automatically assume there is some secret bank account full of money that I don’t mention. The truth of the matter is that I work hard and limit myself from spending too much on material items. However, there are definitely some tips on how you can travel as much as I do with a limited amount of money. I have worked as a Lifeguard for ten years now to afford my travel!
#1 Budget and Put Away a Certain Amount of Money Every Pay Cheque
Once you finally decide, “Yes! I am going to take that trip I have always wanted,” the first thing you’re going to need is money. Traveling can be very cheap if you are willing to make sacrifices. You must ask yourself if you are comfortable staying in a dingy hostel dorm, or if you would like a bit of comfort. It’s a good idea to also consider the costs that go into seeing the destination you’re going to, such as transportation and possibly tour fees.
Once it’s all clear what the approximate costs for your trip will be, then it’s time to put away money every paycheck. That probably means less eating out, shopping at the thrift store, and less beer money… oh, I am hurting with you, don’t worry.
#2 Keep Positive
Having your financial issues figured out, the next thing you’re going to have to face is keeping positive. Nobody saves up enough to travel in a week, more than often it took me upwards of six months to save up for a trip!
Time can really kill your dream of travel. As the months go on, it seems like it takes forever for the trip to come, but you must learn to stay positive. Watch travel television shows (“Departures” and “Parts Unknown” are my favorites), or buy an international cookbook and cook the food of your destination. Whatever helps keep you focused on the trip, do it!
#3 Buy a Ton of Guide Books
This one is one of my favorite things to do to keep positive between travel times. Guide books give me new trip ideas, teach me about the country itself, and they are filled with beautiful images to inspire me to get there. They are also quite cheap! Depending on where you shop, Amazon tends to be the cheapest option (often cheaper than the guidebook company’s sites themselves).
My two favorite Guide books are Lonely Planet and Bradt. Lonely Planet books are a great source of up to date information and are filled with stunning photography. Bradt guides are best for the more off the beaten track destinations. If you’re looking to travel to say Mali, Iraq or Sudan, then check out Bradt.
#4 Take Leave or Find a job with high Turnover
So now you must figure out your work situation. This can be easy if you decide on a two-week trip, and work gives you two weeks’ holidays. More than often this is not the case. In the past, I have planned a one month trip, only for it to turn into a three-month multi-country extravaganza after I bought a new guide book. How do I deal with this?
I have always worked in industries with high turnover, meaning that certain times of year they need employees, and other times they don’t. This is a perfect situation! Unfortunately, this may not be the case for you. Not everyone wants to be a Lifeguard like me.
In the past, some of my friends have traveled with me. They would get leave from their jobs for about one or two months. Again, this might not be your situation. In the end, you must decide how much traveling means to you.
I can go on for hours about why you should quit your job and find a new one because life without travel is not life at all, but I won’t. Instead, I will simply leave you with this: If you are fortunate enough to live in a country where jobs are plentiful, and quality of life is high, then take this advantage and use it to see the world, as there many others who want to and cannot.
#5 Don’t Buy Materialistic Items
This doesn’t mean cut out all you’re shopping, you do not want your life between trips to suck all together. Once you’ve decided you want a life of travel, you just give up on wanting expensive things.
When all my friends graduated from university, they got great jobs. With these jobs, they bought apartments, cars, expensive clothes, and other items which they flaunted with pride. For them, this was what they wanted, so good for them for buying this stuff. I wanted to travel. So, I gave up wanting that new car, paid rent to my parents, and gave up a lot of what makes some people happy. In return, I got new experiences, new languages, new friends and an appreciation of the world!
#6 Plan Trips Around Weekends
This one goes for those who must work with meager holiday time. When it comes to planning trips, time is usually always the issue. If your work likes to treat you like their slave and won’t give you time off, then you either quit, or you’re going to have to plan better.
If you get two weeks’ holidays but don’t work weekends, then take that into account. Even better is to plan your trip based on weekends and stat holidays. Sometimes this can add a week or more into your trip! Traveling during holidays can be great as well. Many countries celebrate the same holiday or have a different kind of festival during this time. Going on trips during holidays like Christmas can also be a great way to get away from the cold of winter if you happen to live in freezing ass Canada, as I do!
#7 Get Creative
You’re probably saying, Stephen, you’re off your rocker. Seriously, though, my creativity has made me lots of money to help with traveling! When I was 19 years old, I started a small business for fun. I had recently visited India and brought back some whole spices. I ground the whole spices into blends which I learned while traveling in India, and I sold them at a local market.
After eight years of doing this, it has turned into a profitable business which I do in my spare time. It’s helped me pay for so much traveling, and gave me something to keep busy with while I am home. Find something you’re excited about, whether it’s a hobby or a real passion, and give it a go. You never know what it might turn into.
#8 Strategic Planning
How much planning do I, the Uncharted Backpacker, put into a trip? The answer is – a lot! Literally, from the day I decide I am going somewhere, to the day I arrive there, I am planning. I plan accommodation, transport, locations, festivals, you name it.
Planning in this detail can help you with knowing the exact amount of time and money it’s going to take to do the trip without any hiccups. Without this planning, you are going to run into many issues. With it, you will be able to plan a daily budget, know when embassies or certain sites are open and figure out if the holiday time you have will be sufficient. Start planning!
#9 Get a Job Abroad
Not everyone can get time off from work and not everyone has the money saved up to travel. If this is your case, then why not consider working abroad?
A working holiday can be a great way to truly see a culture. You get fully immersed in the way of local life, you meet new friends and more than often you get to spend a sizable amount of time in the country.
The most common of these jobs is teaching English abroad. For the most part, all you need is a cheap ESL or TESOL certificate which can be obtained usually in just a few days at a college or institute near you. You definitely don’t need to speak the local language, and there are thousands of jobs online! I did my TESOL certificate and had a job in Libya within three weeks!
#10 Be Smart when Buying Flights
Your flight alone is going to be one of your biggest expenses when it comes to your trip. If you know the industry, however, you can avoid paying absurd prices to fly!
I have written a full detailed article HERE for this very thing. Check it out!
#11 Start a Website
Many bloggers have written about how to make your own travel blog and make millions of dollars… well, this isn’t reality. Making a travel blog that makes you money and gets you free travel is entirely possible, but it’s also incredibly hard. It takes years of good writing combined with advanced marketing techniques and quite honestly it is an incredibly saturated market!
So why am I recommending this idea? I created my website to keep me motivated! A place where I can be proud of my traveling, from where I have been, to where I will go next. To quite simply put it, making your own travel blog is fun, and will help you plan trips, and connect you to others doing the same.
#12 Be Realistic About Where You Travel
Be realistic when you travel? Well, I want to travel for six months through Europe and then fly to Tahiti via a shopping trip in Dubai! For some, this may be realistic, but if you’re still reading this post, I am assuming that the trip mentioned above is probably not the most likely trip for you to undertake.
Traveling Europe for six months is possible! With advanced planning, a bit of extra cash, and a keen sense of budgeting. Hell, shopping in Dubai and sleeping on a beach in Tahiti can happen as well! But you must do the research for this to happen.
Understanding where you are going, when you are going and knowing your budget will ultimately get you out the door sooner. If you follow the previous 11 steps, then you will be well on your way to being realistic of what is possible for you, and traveling sooner!