Since becoming a traveler I have had many conversations with the people I come across in my life – friends, family and total strangers – that go something like this… “You’re so lucky to travel, I wish I could… That’s so amazing that you have a job that allows you to do this… I’d love to travel… Unfortunately, I can’t afford it.”
This seems to be the number one reason why these people want to but don’t travel. In my short collective time traveling the world, I have come to believe that any individual could travel despite these perceived barriers.
It seems to me that afford encompasses a few issues: I can’t afford the monetary cost of traveling, I can’t afford the time it takes to travel and I can’t afford the monetary loss of not earning money during the time I travel. Many people seem to insinuate some combination of these issues when they say, “I can’t afford to travel.”
It’s usually not that someone literally can’t afford the costs of travel as I just defined them, it’s that they can’t justify the costs of travel.
My friend managed to travel by becoming an Au pair USA which meant she became someone who helps with housework or childcare for a family in exchange for food, a room, and some pocket money. This worked great for her and she loved every minute of it but in my situation I can’t that.
I used to think the same thing. This was my biggest fear leading up to my study abroad semester, my first trip out of the country. I ended up in a sobbing mess on my bedroom floor one evening after a frustrating attempt at budgeting my trip. My ever eloquent roommate looked at me pitilessly and said, “I’ve never seen you fail to accomplish something you put your mind to and this is going to be no different.” Just the kick in the ass I needed, and as she predicted I scraped up the money and had an amazing four months in Paris, working part time over the internet to cover loose ends in my budget.
Not everyone needs a kick in the ass. I certainly think making travel a priority should be a personal choice, but I am here to say if you do want to make that choice, do not hold back. You can and will make it work.
As I write this I am unemployed, a little nervous and running low on finds post-Thailand. But the bottom line is I would rather spend every dime to my name on a plane ticket than on anything else. It is my top priority. So no matter my paycheck or schedule, I will always be able to afford travel.
Now about those perceived barriers…
Affording the Monetary Cost of Travel
I once asked a backpacker I met in Thailand how he could afford to travel indefinitely. I’m a planner so the idea of setting out indefinitely, albeit exciting, sounded a little daunting to me. He laughed and said “What? I worked hard and saved all my money.” He’s right. There’s no secret formula here. You need a monetary source and you have to prioritize travel funds in order to afford that cost.
Many people aren’t looking to travel indefinitely, just a week or two, which can feasibly be done on a low budget. What if your car broke down and needed repairs? Most people would grunt and then scrape up the money because they need that car. So then if you need $2000 for a plane ticket and expenses? Prioritize it, scrape up the money and go! It doesn’t matter if you’re in a budget hotel, and if you’re worried about airport parking being expensive, visit this website to find good value parking.
Affording the Time to Travel
This is another one that is pretty straight forward. Many people can’t get the time to travel because of their work schedule. I was lucky enough to have the past two summers off as a teacher. Many people prioritize their careers which makes total sense, but for me at least right now, I prioritize vacation time (wow that sounds kind of bad). If you think I sound crazy check out the story of Savi and Vidwho accepted lower paying jobs with more flexible vacation to enable their jet setting lifestyle.
Affording the Monetary Loss of Not Earning Money During Travel
There are two potential answers here: save a lot of money (yikes saving is hard enough) or eliminate the issue altogether by finding revenue sources while you travel. The first time I went abroad I spoke with my boss and she agreed to reduce my hours and allow me to telecommute from Paris since majority of my work revolved around our company website. I lucked out. But there are a lot of other chronic travelers who have found other ways of making money. Here’s a list of some great examples I have found.
Mark Wiens “How I make money while traveling the world (and eating)”
Megan Claire of Mapping Megan’s take on thishere for bloggers and here for everyone else
How Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse affords to travel
How I afford to travel the world (and how you can too)
If you are still reading this, I am willing to guess you just might be one of those people I’d have this “I dream of travel but can’t afford it” conversations with. I am by no means an expert on every individual’s personal budget or life situation but if you happen to be halfway between “on the fence” and “over the fence” (as I once embarrassingly said out loud about myself) then I’m here to call you out and say you are technically already over the fence so accept it and start turning your dreams into reality. Go travel the world while you’re young and free. Others have done it, so why can’t you? Before you go anywhere though, you should check out The 6 Most Deadly Diseases You Can Catch While Travelling the World, just to make sure you’re prepared, no matter where you’re travelling to.
Photo credits: Pinterest
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