Last updated on 3rd July 2020
‘How can you afford to travel?’
This is a question that I get asked all the time by people wondering how to afford travel, and it continues to baffle me that people still haven’t figured out the answer yet!
It’s almost as if people think that I have a massive trust fund behind me, or a sugar daddy, or that I had to work for 5 years solid just to pay for a plane ticket.
Of course, none of these things are true.
When people ask me how to afford travel, the honest answer is simple: I work for it.
It might sound dismissive, cocky even, to answer in such a way, but it is the truth.
Of course, many people around the world are not in a position privileged enough to be able to travel. Visa restrictions, civil unrest and abject poverty prevent millions of people from being able to travel, but the average person Googling ‘how to afford travel’ and stumbling onto my blog is someone just like me, a young, educated person from the UK or the USA, who does have the means to travel, they just think they don’t.
If you were born in the UK like me then you don’t need to have exceptional circumstances to be able to afford to travel. You just need a good head on your shoulders and an ability to save money.
It’s that simple.
Wondering How to Afford Travel? Read This.
Let’s break it down.
Just how do I, a twenty-something English graduate with crippling university debts and no place to call home, afford to live on paradise islands while all of my friends are struggling to make ends meet?
I don’t have a job that earns me a lot of money.
I never have.
But what money I do earn, I save. I don’t go on shopping trips, drink £8 cocktails, or eat in expensive restaurants. I don’t take a taxi when I can ride the bus, I don’t drink spirits when beers are cheaper and I don’t buy new shoes until mine have holes in them. I’ve had my winter coat for 4 years, I never take more than £30 on a night out and I don’t remember the last time I bought anything from Topshop.
People mock me for being stingy, but when I’ve saved a few thousand pounds and they’re still fighting to get out of their overdraft, who gets the last laugh?
I’ve been travelling for the last 5 years (2020 edit) and on average, I’ve probably worked for 3 months each year. That 3 months has enabled me to travel for the remaining 9. I do make some passive income now that boosts my income while on the road, but I never used to. I am just that thrifty.
When I was at university, I lived on my maintenance loan. I had about the same amount to live on as everybody else that I knew at the time. However, when it was coming to the end of the year, everyone I knew was stressing out because they had 27p in their bank accounts and rent was due, while my current account never dropped below four figures.
Because I was sensible!
It really isn’t rocket science guys. If you want something badly enough, you’ll find the money to do it. That might mean working every hour of overtime that god sends and not seeing your friends for a month, but if you want to see the world badly enough, then you’ll do it.
You’ll gladly sacrifice every cocktail, every new pair of shoes and every lunch date in favour of meeting your end goal as quickly as possible.
If you’re already working 40+ hours a week and can’t get anymore, then do something else! We are lucky enough to live in a world where, if you are creative enough, you can do anything on the internet for money!
Start up an Etsy store or sell your old clothes on eBay. Facebook Marketplace is also a great place to sell things that you don’t want anymore. You can partake in online surveys, start a blog or a YouTube channel, become a streamer on Twitch or sign up to freelance websites such as Fiverr where you can sell all kinds of services, from graphic design and digital marketing to tarot reading and dating profile makeovers!
Start dog-walking or babysitting. Ask your elderly neighbours if they would like their lawns mowed or houses cleaned for a small fee. If you have a large social media following then sign up to be an affiliate for various companies and begin earning commissions when people buy things that you recommend. If you’re more open-minded then you can even give online sex work a go! You can do phone sex, sell feet pictures and sell your worn old tights to people with fetishes!
The possibilities are honestly limitless.
Just don’t join an MLM and you’ll be fine.
Honestly though, none of these things are necessary if you learn to budget.
When I graduated from university, I had a low paying job. I used to earn £280 a week after tax. £100 of that went straight on rent & council tax. I took £60 for myself every week. That left £120 a week, untouched, in my bank.
That’s over £480 a month.
In 2 months, I would have enough money for 1 month of travel (in cheaper parts of the world such as Southeast Asia, for example).
Limit your outgoings. Cancel your phone plan and get rid of your Netflix and Spotify subscriptions. If you pay for other subscription services such as Amazon Prime or Audible then cancel them as well. Cut your shopping bill in half by shopping smart and buying things that are on offer or will make multiple meals. Walk and use public transport whenever you can.
Don’t buy anything unless you absolutely need it. I know that every female reading this has at least 271 half empty tubes of moisturiser and lord only knows how many half full perfume bottles lying around – use what you’ve got and do not buy more!
If you develop a routine like this, you’ll be surprised at just how quickly the pennies turn into pounds, and within 6 months, you’ll easily be able to fund a few months of travel.
All you need to do is stop making excuses and do it.
Nobody is going to fund your travels apart from you (well, unless you have super rich parents or are married to a dude three times your age), and the longer you sit and moan about how your job just doesn’t pay enough, or how you simply don’t understand how people ever make it out of their overdrafts, the further away your travels become, until they’re nothing more than a missed opportunity that you should have taken.