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.