ch-ch-ch-changes

I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to travel as much as I have in my 23 years. I have been to Malaysia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine, and Ireland so far, as well as countless trips within the U.S.A. I have experienced enough of other places that I know I want to continue traveling. It’s the big, never-ending goal that I am working towards.

The question of financing always comes up. My peers generally alternate between jealousy (“Oh man, I wish I could travel!”) and disbelief (“How can you afford to keep traveling? Do your parents pay for it?”) when I tell them about my travel experiences or plans. I always tell them that they could travel, too – they would just have to make some changes.

Unfortunately, making changes is something that most people are not willing to make without a significant reason. Travel is what I am passionate about, but that does not mean that travel will inspire my friends to make financial changes in their life. When I decided that I wanted to travel, I made changes in my life that would allow me to save money to travel. Here are a few changes that I made in my life:

 

1. I increased my income. 

While I was in school, I worked full-time as well as taking a full course load every semester. I also lived at home to keep expenses  at a minimum so that I could save a large portion of my income. When I graduated, I continued to work full-time but also picked up a second job and also taught lessons on the side. Having multiple sources of income made it easier to cover my expenses and have money left over to save for travels.

 

2. I came up with cheaper alternatives for my entertainment. 

Instead of getting cable, I got Netflix. Instead of buying new books at Barnes & Noble (which is a complete weakness and will be discussed in a later post), I started to take advantage of my local library. I would have friends over for movie night in place of going to see a new movie in the theaters. When I did decide to go out to a bar, I would either limit the number of drinks I would have at the bar or try to take advantage of specials or bargain nights.

 

3. I worked on keeping my life relatively simple. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in materialistic wants. Advertisements constantly bombard us, telling us we need more. The more that you have, the more you must maintain – making it difficult to keep a simple life. I try really hard to think about whether I need something or whether it will be useful to me before I buy it – can I possibly borrow this item from someone else? Can I wait until I can get it at a really deep discount? Being thoughtful (usually) prevents me from having a lot of excess that I need to worry about taking care of.

 

Of course there is more involved in travel than simply saving money. That is the easy part! However, by making changes in your lifestyle, you can achieve your dreams quicker. For many goals, travel included, money is a catalyst. Thinking about adjustments you can make in your life right now and then implementing them will free up more cash so that you can chase those dreams. Some changes are simple, some are more complex – but all can push you closer towards your goal.

a friendly hello

I have something that I must confess, and I need to get it out of the way early: I love personal finance, particularly savings hacks. That’s right. A 23-year-old girl, who loves to travel and adventure, is lame enough to have this dirty little secret of loving personal finance. I love the nitty-gritty details of ROTH IRA’s. My heart leaps at seeing a decent coupon. Talk to me about multiple-income streams and I swoon. But why? It’s all for the love of travel. Learning these tips and tricks allows me to save to follow my life’s passion, which is travel.

 

The travel bug bit me young, and I have never recovered. Anytime a road trip is discussed, I’m automatically in. A late-night drunken conversation leads to, “Let’s go to Vegas!” and the next day, while everyone else is nursing their hangovers, I am popping Advil and searching Travelocity. As a child on family road trips, I would look out of the window of the car and imagine what life was like for people who lived in these different towns. What kind of lives were they living? How were we different, and how were we the same? These types of questions entertained me for our long trips, but they inspired me to find out more about other cultures as I aged.

 

I also love to read and to learn, and when it came time for college, I knew I wanted to do something that either involved A) lots of reading, B) lots of travel, or C) both. After several major changes, I decided on a career in international business with a focus on a foreign language (Russian). Some of the courses offered in conjunction with the required classes allowed me to travel, and this was something that I wanted to do desperately. I worked hard in college, both academically and secularly. I was able to take a few amazing trips, but instead of quenching my thrist for travel, it just made me want it more. I was determined to find ways to travel no matter what.

 

It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t easy. The satisfaction that I get when I am able to go to a new country and think to myself, “I did this all on my own. No one helped me” or better yet, “I’m going to be debt-free when I get home!” is immense, however, and I want to be able to share with others how I did it. My peers regularly tell me that they are jealous or wish that they were able to do what I have done. With this blog, I would like to encourage all fellow wanderlusters to know that they can acheive their goals of seeing the world. It may take a little time and a lot of effort, but anyone can do it (even someone who isn’t a personal finance geek!).

 

Here’s to the opportunity to follow your (wandering) heart and not go broke!