Besides random questions on the places I have been, how I can afford to travel is definitely the question I get asked most often. The answer to me is quite obvious, I make travelling a priority and work towards that goal. For me, it sounds simple but obviously, there is a little more to it than that, such as what jobs I’ve had, how I’ve saved and a few other tips and tricks that can save you money and help you to travel a bit longer.
I’ve decided to answer the question how I can afford to travel, by writing a brief timeline of my travels and things I have done along the way to help me. As of today 12/10/2017 I have managed to visit/travel/live in 23 countries. Which is good and also a little disappointing as I thought it was more, maths has never been my strong suit. Without further ado here are the last 6 years of my life summarised. Explaining how I can afford to travel and how you can too.
How I can afford to travel and some ideas for you:
The college years February 2011- December 2011:
My college forced me out into the big bad world through a work experience programme and Erasmus in Europe. Spain was the first country I properly experienced solo. The work programme was arranged by my university so accommodation and food weren’t that big of a concern. I stayed here for four months living by the sea and attempting to teach English. As I had no idea what I was really doing there, I didn’t travel extensively, something I hope to fix in the future.
The following semester I had my Erasmus programme. This took me to the Netherlands. A country I picked because it was close to Ireland as I planned to return often. Forgetting I wasn’t very wealthy and that I might actually enjoy the Netherlands didn’t come into my plans at the time. The Netherlands out shun Spain for me hands own.
Luckily for me, the Netherlands was, even more, eye-opening than Spain. I met a ton of people who travelled a lot further than me and I loved all the stories from distant countries. At 19 and having only ever visited Spain, meeting Colombians, Australians, and Argentinians definitely inspired me to see more of the world. I wanted to visit all the European countries that my friends were visiting but as I didn’t have a whole lot of money this didn’t happen.
With money donated by my great family and grants by my university, I did manage some small trips to Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Poland. This might sound like a lot but 3 of these were in on a five-day road trip, so not exactly luxurious, but a hell of a lot of fun. This was my first experience of extreme budget backpacking, meaning tomato sauce and pasta regularly and not much else.
I was never a fan of receiving grants/money from others when I was younger I wanted to be able to afford everything myself. It took me a few years to realize this can’t happen overnight and that there was no problem asking for help. Especially if it’s for travelling :)I learned to budget travel when I was in the Netherlands although I needed help every now and then.
- Where: Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark Poland.
- How I afforded to travel: Grants, loans, help from my family and a small weekly wage in Spain.
Post-college May 2013- February 2014
Like most people, I was a little nervous coming up to my final couple of months in College. I didn’t have a plan as such, but I wanted to take a year out and explore/travel a little and see what I could get up to. The first place on my list was U.S. Ireland and a possibly a few other counties have an agreement with the U.S which allows students to work and travel in the states for a period of time, the J1 visa. I couldn’t afford to travel there throughout college so this was my last chance. By budgeting and again receiving more government grants I managed to save enough for the visa, flights and have some pocket change. Literally, one of the first times I had money put away simply for me to enjoy. Although this wasn’t an endless well. and
During my four years in college I couldn’t land a job that lasted longer than a few weeks in Ireland, but in the states, I had one in a few days. It might have been flipping burgers but it was money. For the first time, I could afford to travel off of my own money. Something I was pretty happy about and continue to be. I was never from a poor family but I never really had money of my own, so now I had, even more, a reason to save 🙂
Working as a hotdog cook on a San Diego beach was an absolutely incredible way to spend the summer. I made absolutely F*** all money each week, but I wasn’t there to save. A few trips to LA and Tijuana and endless nights out in San Diego meant me and my friends had one of the cheapest Las Vegas trips imaginable and it was brilliant. After four months I was home returning with $10. No joke.
Now it was time to be an adult and what do adults do. They go to Korea to teach English. Not my first choice but its how things panned out. I will never be the greatest planner in the world but this was a huge mistake. Culture shock, immaturity, cheap alcohol and a dislike of everything around me made for an interesting few months that rolled from late October 2013 to early 2014. Th pay in Korea was ok so I managed to travel about the country a little and put away money for my great escape. Thankfully my amazing sister forked out or my exit fee which led to my next adventure down under.
Although I was and m happy to earn money and travel myself when your sister gives you a get out of jail free card. Take it.
- Where: USA, Ireland, South Korea
- How I afforded to travel: Grants, Hotdog chef, and English teaching.
Australia Part 1 February 2014-February 2015:
The best thing to happen since sliced bread even if it was just to escape Korea. So I got to Perth saw my sister and partied for about 2 days and then realized my month’s wage in Korea wasn’t a whole lot in Australia. In order to feed me work was needed. As my sister’s friends all worked in construction there was plenty of offers to help me out. I don’t think they realized how dangerous I would be on a construction site and/or how shit I would be. genuinely had no idea wtf I was doing for the most part and eventually the offers disappeared but I’ll always thank them for giving me a go. With three weeks of experience under my belt, I went into recruitment agencies. Construction is big business in Ozz and they always need a professional sweeper/ lifter of objects.
Somehow I stumbled from sweeping into installing air conditioning units. This I’m even confused about and I know my Ozzy boss along with his Irish employees hated me showing up for work every day, but hey if your gonna pay me $$ I’ll be the best shit employee ever and that’s what I did for about 2 more months. With each new job, I got a little more money and also a little greedier. Ozz had that effect on me, especially since I wasn’t used to having $$ at my disposal and dispose I did. But I always ensured I put enough away so that I could afford to travel more in the future.
This is when I started to put in a plan of putting away at least half of my income each week, I was always careful with money but when your income is pretty good, the savings add up fast. Once I earned money I was extra tight something I’m not entirely proud off because let’s face it nobody likes a stingy fecker, I wasn’t the worst but I could have been better. This did also allow me to afford extra travel in the future though.
On to farm work then and the pattern continued. I was enjoying myself but putting away at least half my wages, maybe not every week but more often than not. These savings allowed me to travel to the east coast of Australia down to Sydney.
Here it was back to construction work and pretty decent money again. With my first-year visa running out I saved enough to be able to afford to travel around Asia.
- Where: Australia (Western Australia, Queensland, East coast, New South Wales).
- How I afforded to travel: Plasterers labourer, General labourer, Banana humper, General Laborer.
S.E Asia February 2015- May 2016:
Having resigned myself to the fact that I may not be returning to college for some time. I thought a trip to Asia would be the next best thing. I had met a lot of people in Australia who kept going on about it, although after Korea I wasn’t super keen. As I didn’t want to go to my second year straight away I decided to go and do the typical banana route and possibly Myanmar if I could afford it. I couldn’t afford it.
This is when my extreme budgeting came in or at least an attempt. I planned for $1000per country. My rules were if I spend my budget I have to leave*. Although I’m pissed about Indonesia as it was my first country and I only last 10 days. The Komodo dragons and some senseless overindulgence on alcohol took care of my budget in no time.
*Do not budget like that, it sucks.
I managed five countries in roughly four months which was pretty ok. I usually aimed for the cheapest hostels, modes of transport and food, especially food. But as I’m prone to losing weight rapidly I did look pretty sickly by the end of it although I wasn’t at all. Honest.
I had planned to volunteer and move slower there but it didn’t happen as I made new and old friends along the way. I stayed with them and spent and moved faster than expected. Once I was running rapidly out of money it was time to return to Australia to make some real money again. Asia is brilliant and the most cost-effective place to visit. it is pretty easy to be able to afford travel in Asia, people have gone with far less than me and stayed for much longer. Anyone can afford to travel to Asia even if it is just for a short time.
Australia Part 2 May 2015-May 2016:
Back to Ozz, I went but this time to Darwin, I had about $200 to my name. I had friends there who kindly offered me a room until I got set up. It was a new place to experience. Dec and Akisha were great putting up with me in their new home and I then went scouring for work. I went back to recruitment agencies and jumped from site to site for a few weeks which really sucks after awhile. My plans of getting an office job went out the window as construction cash was much easier to come across.
After a few weeks, I landed a decent job laying internet cable and I stuck with that until the project finished. While there I also got a second job as a waiter. Like I said Australia had made me greedy and I didn’t want to run out of money again like I had in Asia, I was already forming plans for my next big trip. I needed a lot of money to be able to afford travel in Sout America.
From Darwin, I road tripped to Melbourne for the suckiest three months of my time in Australia. I couldn’t warm to the city and jobs weren’t that plentiful, at least I couldn’t find them anyway. So back to Sydney, I had friends there so settling back would be nice and easy. I did have a sick apartment in Melbourne so that was good.
Back to Sydney, I went and into two extremely well-paying jobs almost instantly. I was extremely lucky and I must have learned enough on the previous sites I worked on to stay at both of these jobs. Through long hours, a minuscule social life I managed to save in excess of what I had saved the previous eight months. I was so happy, but it wasn’t without its problems I rarely went out and when I did it was to festivals so they took quite a lot of money. I enjoy travelling but not at the expense of life right now*.
*lIfe is what happens when you are busy making plans.
- Where: Australia (Northern Territory, Central Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales).
- How I can afford to travel: General labourer, Fibre optic installer, Waiter, Furniture removal, General labourer, Formwork TA.
Ireland May 2016-October 2016
With this final cash injection, it was time to return home and surprise my family. It had been three years so they were getting a little annoyed. While back home I got a job at a summer camp. My plan was to work a few months see my friends and family and then leave again. As the work turned out to be pretty hectic I prolonged my stay.
The summer camp job allowed me to travel around Ireland and then the second job setting up marquees had covered all the costs of my flight home plus some extra money for America. I can be frivolous and I like making back my money on unexpected journeys. Covering your costs with some extra work isn’t always fun be it’s a great way to be able to afford to travel for longer in the future.
- Where: Ireland
- How I can afford to travel: Summer camp job(Plus travel perks), Setting up Marquees.
Epic trip/fail October 2016- May 2017
I left in October 2016 and went to visit friends in Boston, Massachusetts. After 10 days there I travelled to Mexico to begin my epic adventure. That stopped after two days because I was robbed. Literally everything besides a bank card and some swimming clothes. This is when budgeting and the real questions arise as to how I can afford to travel. Luckily for me that one bank card was my primary one so I didn’t lose to much actual cash.
Saying that it was an absolute disaster. I can be a bit stubborn and I don’t like stuff getting me down so I decided to stay and see how things panned out. Thanks to some extra delays and errors along the way I ended up staying in Mexico for three months, now Mexico is cheap but three months anywhere will eat into your savings. I balanced this out by volunteering in a few hostels. This allowed for free accommodation and sometimes food which is a pretty sweet deal if you find a decent hostel; which I managed to do both times.
Once my passport finally arrived it was time to get out of Mexico and move to Guatemala. Here I lived and studied Spanish for a couple of months due to the abundance of schools and the recommendations I received. Due to my spending and delays in Mexico, I decided to cut out the rest of Central America. I was pretty bummed out by this, but sacrifices have to be made and South America was always my dream destination. Albeit a little tainted now.
I spent my final two months of this trip in Colombia and Ecuador. Then some of the travelling issues I’ve written about before emerged and I decided it was time to return home for a bit, regroup and see what my next plan was. I could afford to travel more, but it didn’t seem like it would be too enjoyable for the time being.
Ireland May 2017-Now
Coming home has been fun, I was here for summer, I could buy clothes that actually fit and I could decide what to do next. Right now I’m trying to save more money, I have some trips planned and I’m studying.
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