I often get asked the same question, time and time again. When I tell people that I spent a year traveling to 20 different countries…. family, friends from back home, and even strangers look at me with wide eyes for they are curious to know –
“How do you afford to travel?”
The truth is, I don’t have a direct answer to that question. I do not have a magic secret. I am not rich. I did not come from money. I have a savings account, but it is not spent on traveling.
I will tell you what I do have. I have resources. I have research. I have time spent on finding the best deals. I have flexibility. I have a budget, and I make money teaching overseas. I also don’t live the backpacker lifestyle- although I commend people that do, and find it inspirational in many ways.
I think people have this misconception that traveling is expensive. I have spent more on a weekend out in NYC than I have spending 2 weeks traveling Italy. Don’t get me wrong, traveling can be expensive but it really just depends on how you travel and what you want to get out of traveling. These are three ways I can afford to travel:
I prefer the local experience.
I don’t need to go to the nicest restaurants, stay in a fancy hotel, or spend my days shopping. I do not receive value from these experiences. I like to stay in air bnbs, I like to go where the locals go, and I want to meet like-minded people. Give me good coffee, good food, and good wine – we are golden. That hole in the wall restaurant in Rome, had the best pasta. The air bnb in Paris, had pretty awesome views. The local bars in Barcelona, had the best nightlife. These are the experiences that I find valuable.
I spend time researching
I’d be slightly ashamed if I told you how many hours a week I spend stalking Google Flights. Or reading travel blogs. Another method of research, is to simply asking locals where to go and what to do. You don’t have to get caught up in the tourist traps. Ever want to visit NYC? Tell me what you are looking for, and I can tell you where to find it. I can tell you where to get the best pizza and a good cup of coffee. Locals know their city.
I’m ok with doing things on my own.
Traveling with friends? This is where it can get a bit tricky. First and foremost, I feel that it is always important to pick who you travel with wisely. I love my friends, but I would never travel with some of them. Why? Because I know we wouldn’t travel well together, and that’s ok. Some friends, don’t mind doing different things and meeting up later in the day or night. If there is something in a city that I find important to experience, but my friend does not- I don’t mind doing it on my own.
There are various other factors that go into the discussion of how I afford to travel, but these are the most common. Please check out some other posts coming soon related to this topic.