How I Afford Travel
The whole truth.
Let me start by saying I'm no professional at saving money. It's been a long and irresponsible, broke journey to reach where I am now. To be honest, I realized I had to do something about making these travel dreams come true so I did whatever it would take to make it a reality. I've begun to catch some buzz with people asking just how in the world I afford to travel as often and as far as I do. I'm finding this to be the most asked question next to, 'where was your favorite place' I receive regarding my travels. When I took my first trip abroad I was making about $2,500 per month which is good money, but with the other expenses I had it wasn't a ton of money. So it really has very little to do with how much you actually make, but rather how much you really want to travel. I've been on auto pilot with saving for the last two years for my last two trips, and what works for me may not work for you. My sole piece of advice is that you're going to need some self discipline - which I hope isn't bad news. Once you plan and take that trip, no matter how big or small, you'll realize saving isn't so hard after all.
Make a budget.
You need to make a list of everything you make in a month and everything you spend in a month. Everything. Especially if you work in a field where you make tips, you'll want to start recording this as well. Pick the next full month and dedicate yourself to creating and applying an actual budget. Over a months time you can record exactly where your money is going vs. where it could be taking you. I personally use Numbers for Apple to make spreadsheets of what I spend, what I earn (including cash,) and what bills I have. It takes some time each day to input all the data, but it takes literally 2 minutes. This way I'm able to track all of my spending and know when I no longer have any more money to spend. Don't let a budget sound daunting, it's a tool to help achieve your goals. All you have to do is change your perception. It's no longer a budget, it's a dream weaver. Being aware of your spending habits is the only way to take control of them.
Follow your budget.
Following your budget is the tricky part and I still struggle with this one from time to time, but it is the most important rule to follow. After taking a month to record your budget and spending you will know exactly where you can cut back on unnecessary investments so you can instead be saving that money. I'm not here to tell you what you should or shouldn't be spending your money on - that's entirely up to you, but be honest with yourself if that makeup addiction is a problem or not. Maybe going out with friends most nights has consumed all of your spending money. If you can afford a tab at the bar every weekend you can most certainly turn that into an awesome trip within 6 months time.
As Steve Jobs once said, "Focusing is about saying no." And it's true. Sometimes you have to say no to familiar things to make your way to other greater things.
Make it interesting.
Come up with your own rules - you can even make saving a playful game with yourself. Sign up with the app Qapital - it's one of my favorite apps for saving money in a unique way. Anytime you see anything regarding travel stick $5-20 in a jar. Decorate that jar or box where you keep your money with things that inspire your travels goals. Definitely be sure to make a vision board and a bucket list! Keep yourself inspired by reading up on travel blogs and following fellow traveler's on Instagram.
Saving can be fun, and once you see the money pile up you'll wonder why you didn't start sooner.
It's about making sacrifices.
The most important thing to recognize about how I afford travel is that it took some sacrifice - but with sacrifice comes even greater reward. When planning my first trip abroad I decided to move back in with my parents so I could save some extra money and so they could watch my things while I was away for 2 months rent free. There used to be weekends where I longed to be out with friends at our neighborhood bar, as if I were missing out on quite possibly the best night the world ever had to offer. Low and behold, it wasn't. I've had some amazing nights in my city with people who I love and admire, but there are other experiences waiting beyond your weekend rituals. Your weekend's will still be here once you're back, and you'll get to bring something new to the table after getting outside of them. Sacrifice is actually a good thing, it means you're growing as a human being. You have to let go of things that aren't allowing you to grow to your full potential. It's never easy, but I promise there is a tribe of people awaiting to meet you along your travels who will finally get it.
Staying in from the club an extra night, ditching your morning coffee at Starbucks, and offering to cook in instead of eating out will slowly allow you to reach your goals. These are all things that have helped me take two trips abroad - one for 8 weeks and one for 4. I've taken a lot more trips to other states on my weekends off to help keep my wanderlust at bay thanks to these tips, too. I encourage you to put your dreams first and see where you end up. Cheers!
Upcoming Travel: // Road Trip with my travel bestie August 31st, 2016 to the Pacific North Coast. // Japan October 2016.