In 2013, I decided to drop everything and get my TEFL certification in Cambodia and teach English in Thailand.
I really wasn’t sure where this was going to lead but I had a good feeling that Thailand wouldn’t be the last country I visited.
I was right.
The travel bug bit me pretty hard.
I fell in love with traveling. I wanted to experience everything, eat everything and meet everyone. There wasn’t [isn’t] a place in this world that I didn’t want to go. [That hasn’t changed at all in 3+ years…]
So, I had to make some slight financial changes to be able to live this life I love. I am firm preacher that traveling doesn’t need to be expensive. Honestly, for the most part, I think I spend less traveling than I do when I am at home.
I’m not some crazy budget traveler, I didn’t sell everything I own and choose to live like a hobo for the rest of my life but more power to you if this is you and it works for you.
I’m more of a make simple life changes that pay off in the long run.
I work my ass off. Since I was a teen I’ve always been working 2 or 3 jobs, 60+ hours a week. This didn’t change when I decided to travel. I was always the one picking up extra shifts when I was home or extra lessons when I was teaching abroad.
Since quitting teaching, I’ve started doing a lot of freelance work, bartending while I am home and am in the process of starting a business. I literally work from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep. Embarrassing to admit: I pretty much dream about work too…. eek.
But it’s easy to maintain the motivation when I am working to be able to eat Thai noodles on a little plastic stool in Bangkok or hop in a boat in Venice to one of the most beautiful little islands I’ve ever seen or jet down the side of an active volcano on what I would call a small toboggan.
Make a Savings Plan
No matter what your goals in life are, you should have a savings plan. As I write this, I have about $20 in my savings account, but still, I’m on the fast track to recovery! When I was bartending or waitressing, I put $20 away from every single shift I worked, even if it was a Monday lunch shift and I didn’t make $20. Working 8-10 shifts a week that averaged out to $150-$200 per week that I was saving. That added up quickly! And I barely even noticed it was missing from my weekly pay, ya know?
Find something that works for you and stick to it. It is easier when you have a specific goal or trip in mind, trust me.
Evaluate your Needs
If you honestly think you can purge everything and become a hobo, good for you. For me, I touch down at home every couple months for a couple weeks and we don’t have an extra family car so I needed to keep my car.
I did, however, stop dying my hair. Saving nearly $200 every couple months was huge! And it never really lasted in the intense Southeast Asian heat and salt water anyways.
Even basic things like going to a wedding changed for me. I used to go out and buy a new dress, shoes and bag for each wedding. A few weeks ago I opted to just wear an old dress and shoes I had and borrowed a purse from a friend saving me a couple hundred.
Don’t restrict yourself too much, or you’ll be miserable leading up to your trip and placing too much importance on a trip can ultimately ruin the experience for you.
This goes hand in hand with my last point. One of the biggest things I see when I read articles about creating a travel savings plan is to cut off spending on coffee every day. Now, Starbucks is really like a drug kind of. If you’ve been drinking it #everydamnday for months, maybe years, do you honestly think you can just stop going and you’ll still be happy?
I used to have this addiction and I opted to cut myself down to once a week. I would hold out until Friday and save this little splurge as a bonus for making it that far in the week. Cutting your spending from $35 to $5 a week is still a HUGE deal and a much more realistic goal.
Be real with yourself and understand that you shouldn’t make your life miserable to be able to travel more. Then, it’s kind of pointless, huh?
Another aspect of being realistic is about how you want to travel. If you can only afford super budget trips, but hate hostels, don’t plan a trip where you have to stay in hostels the whole time in order to do it. Have a long talk with yourself about what kind of travel you like and what your budget really is for it.
Find a Job That Let’s You Travel But That You Also Enjoy
Finally! My favorite part about this! Yes, I work a LOT but I have developed a life and a career that allows me to do that work anywhere! It is a hell of a lot better setting up my coffee and computer on a balcony overlooking the ocean than working in an office in cold snowy Upstate, NY with other miserable, cold people.
Through following my passions, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and teaching myself skills that I can do anywhere. I do graphic design, freelance writing, virtual assistant work, manage social media profiles for travel companies. You name it. I do it.
There are a lot of options when it comes to remote work, from basic things like medical transcribing to advanced web development. Believe in yourself and find something that you enjoy. It can be hard to motivate yourself to do work at 6am instead of watching the sunrise on the beach if you don’t at least somewhat enjoy what you’re doing.