I wanted to touch on this subject because something I get asked a lot is how I afford to travel. People often assume I’m rich, have a trust fund, a benefactor funding my travels, unlimited time off of work, or some other thing that they don’t have. I’ve touched on this subject before, of course, but I thought it was worth revisiting the topic because it’s still something I get asked a lot. I think there’s a perception out there that people who travel a lot are either wealthy or are completely ignoring responsibility and not preparing for the future. While both of those kinds of travelers do exist, I wanted to talk about the fact that you really can be financially responsible, not wealthy, and still live the travel life.
It’s all about priorities.
Travel is a priority in my life and I make sacrifices in order to make it happen. I drive an economical, pre-owned vehicle. I also happen to love my car (Kia Soul, whooo!) but that’s beside the point. The point is that if I wanted to stretch my budget, I could have afforded some lease or car payment for a fancy schmancy vehicle. I could have been rolling around in a BMW if I really wanted to, but it seems wasteful to me because I have a perfectly good Kia Soul and I can use all that money I saved from not getting a BMW on travel.
Let’s talk about another aspect of life though….shopping. People love to shop, and they do it almost mindlessly at times. Heading to the store on the weekends and picking up a few shirts, some shoes, or some pants is commonplace for many people. Me? I wear my clothes until they fall apart and I only replace things when needed. I have a fairly simple wardrobe that I mix and match for all occasions. If I have a special event, I don’t buy something new for it. Instead, I just wear something I already own. How many ladies buy a new dress for the company Chrismtas party or whatever? Why do that when I’ve got a perfectly good LBD hanging in the closet already that I can wear? All that money I save goes straight into the travel savings.
Dining out…I’ll admit, I do love restaurants. However, I try to keep my dining out in check and limit it only to once or twice a week at the most. The money I save from that? You guessed it…it goes into the travel savings.
You get the point. Everybody is different, but for most of us, we have areas in our lives where we may be spending more money than is absolutely necessary on life’s luxuries. That’s ok, of course, and I would never tell somebody who is all about having a nice car that they should cut that out of their life, but it does help to point out that I am able to travel so much because the thing that I prioritize in my own life is travel. For you, it may be different, but you just have to look at your own life and your own priorities and decide which one is best for you.
On matters of work…
Currently, I’m working full time at a location-based job. I’m privileged to work at a place with awesome flexibility, and they are generous with time off. That makes a big difference. If I want to go on a trip, I just need to give them enough notice so they can prepare for my absence. As a result, they have my loyalty. I’m not saying I’ll never leave, but I’m comfortable staying there with no plans to leave any time soon. I’ve worked at companies in the past that weren’t so generous and pitched a fit whenever I wanted to take so much as a measly week off of work (after months and months and months of working straight through). Needless to say, I didn’t stick around at those companies. If they didn’t value me enough to give me the respite I needed, they weren’t worth my loyalty. So, I hit the job boards, went on some interviews, and moved on. If you’re working at a place that doesn’t let you take time off, I feel your pain. It might be time to start looking for a different job that values you more.
The other thing I should mention is that I’m a graphic designer. If at any time I wanted to, I could find a job where I work 100% remotely and/or switch to freelance. Sure, it would take some setting up to get that going, but many graphic designers work remotely. If I ever wanted to move abroad or live a vagabond lifestyle, I could work remotely. If you are in a career that allows for remote work, that might be something you would want to look into.
Other career options for travelers include teaching abroad, sales, and a myriad of other positions. What sort of job do you do? Could you translate that to the travel life? Read about some options and resources on Travel Jobs!
Yes…it’s harder for some than others.
I’m not going to lie. Not everybody can travel. Some people really are struggling just to put food on the table. Some people really do have obligations at home that prevent them from traveling. I get that, I do. However, if you live in a relatively prosperous nation and you live a relatively prosperous life (i.e. you’ve got food and housing covered, and you’re not immediately fearful of being on the street at any moment), there are likely things in your life you can do in order to make travel happen. I hear a lot of excuses….
- “Oh, but I have kids”…Allow me introduce you to Liliia from Bring Baby Abroad, who travels way more extensively than I do and is introducing her child to the wonders of the world!
- “Oh, but I just can’t afford it.” Think You Can’t Afford to Travel? Read This.
- “Oh, but my full time job makes it hard to travel.” Check out On Traveling While Working Full Time.
The point is, if you’re reasonably prosperous, when there is a will…there is a way. I just wanted to put this out there to encourage all of you who might be wanting to travel and might not feel like it’s within reach for you. You can do it! Make your dreams happen! Don’t wait until retirement because nothing in life is guaranteed. If you’re not used to budgeting for these kinds of things, check out my post on How to Budget for a Trip to help you get started with your plan. I wish you all the success in life and many amazing adventures in the years to come!