This is the story of how I figured out that I can afford to travel…
Upon sharing one of my coveted albums of travel photos on Facebook, a friend once commented, “You make that much money working at a bar?!” He was thinking I must be raking in the dough to travel the world so frivolously. The reality is I do everything frugally, rather than frivolously. At the time, I had barely taken a day off in 6 years, said yes to every shift someone wanted covered, and didn’t spend money on a lot of things most others can’t live without. I kept my old car on the road, instead of the more reliable one I could have gotten. I barely went out with friends, saving lots of money on drinks, movies, and the like. I am a huge bargain shopper, rarely paying for anything that isn’t on sale. It adds up, truly. Furthermore, I research the hell out of the trips I take, saving more money than you would think possible (more posts about this to come 🙂 ).
I wasn’t always this responsible, however. The first few trips, I robbed from Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. I worked like a dog while I was a student, but used some of my student loan money to travel. My degree was in Cultural Studies so I feel pretty justified in that choice. I also racked up a decent amount of credit card debt from time to time. I did anything to make travel a priority, and I don’t regret it. I did get better at figuring out how to afford to travel the world without sacrificing my financial health, and that has been a huge relief. While travel is essential to someone like me, I am also pragmatic and don’t live my life throwing caution to the wind. I just got smarter about getting what I want.
Where did I go first???
My first trip abroad was to Italy when I was 27 years old. It changed my life! I had always wanted to go but was too responsible to take the plunge. The car always needs something, or an unexpected bill would come up. Then one day, I realized, I always figured out those financial responsibilities, no matter what. I would travel, and I would make it work. Guess, what?! I did. Some may call the debt (which I have handled responsibly) irresponsible, but I realized the answer to the crucial question everyone asks when it comes to following their dreams…. If not now, then when? There will always be reasons, excuses, challenges, etc. If not now, it may be never. I couldn’t live with that, so I went. And ladies and gentlemen, I am sincerely better for it.
So how DO I afford to travel?
I have a far more financially responsible method these days. I came across a simple idea online one day, meandering the internet, and casually told a friend from work about it (Shout out to Chris who has saved enough money to go to Hawaii with her daughter! 🙂 ). She began doing it and let me tell you I am remiss for not starting that very day myself.
So here’s the big, amazing secret….We save our five dollar bills.
Yep. That’s it. Every single one.
I work for tips so I get a five dollar bill here and there from the more in touch and on par tippers that come into both my jobs. Every fiver goes into the fives box. Every time I break a twenty and there is a five in my change…you got it, into the fives box it goes. Once the box seems to be getting too full, I put it into my savings account (I am getting more responsible as I hone my skills). When I plan a trip, I have the money right there, and never missed a penny. It’s actually funny, because I really don’t feel like I’m skimping by doing this, and guess what else…the money is always there if I really do need it for something responsible and adult like.
This method has proven to be the very first savings method that has ever worked well for me. Simple, effective, and in the end a whole lot of fun! It’s like a goal driven challenge most of the time and the reward couldn’t feel better. The only down side is the bigger the savings becomes, the less I want to spend it! I’ll take that first world problem any day.
The only down side… the bigger the savings becomes, the less I want to spend it! I’ll take that first world problem any day.
I’ll take that first world problem any day.
So the answer to the question, “How can you afford to travel?”……… If it means the world to you to see the world, how can you afford not to?