When you really think about it, “travel” is probably one of the few words in the English language that can make people feel a range of emotions, depending on how they feel about the idea behind it. Travel can feel exciting, daring, nerve-racking, and terrifying all at the same time. For some it’s a passion. For others, it’s simply a task they have no interest in.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the ability to travel to so many parts of the world. My travel bucket list is long and never ending, yet each year I look forward to a new and exciting adventure. Lucky enough, it’s an interest I share with many close friends, and a topic of lively debate amongst those same friends. On the flip side though, over these past few years, I have noticed that conversations around travel have at times taken a turn for the negative. I receive statements like, “Well I can’t afford to travel because I have student loans to pay…” and, “You must make a lot of money to be able to travel as much as you do…” to my personal favorite question, “How can you afford to travel and live in Chicago? Do your parents help pay for it?”
Honestly, it’s that last question that really gets to me the most. In case you are wondering, the answer is a firm no; I’ve taken care of all of my bills since I graduated college in 2010. And it’s a rude question. Why is there an assumption that I’m wealthy, don’t have any bills to pay, and live off my parents income?
I do understand the curiosity of the question, though. Travel, while exciting can also bring on anxiety, stress, and jealousy due to the finances needed to make it happen. So how do I afford to travel on a big-city-living single girl’s income?
1. Travel is a Priority
At the end of the day the answer is pretty simple — I prioritize it. Travel always has been and will always be at the very top of my priorities list. Therefore, I find ways to make all aspects of travel, from the logistical to the financial, an end goal with the choices I make in my daily life. Because when something or someone become a priority in your life, it’s easy to find ways to make it fit into your own world. If it ever starts to feel like a chore, it no longer becomes a priority, and you should drop it like a hot potato. (We still use that phrase, right?)
2. My Money Motto: “Outta Sight, Outta Mind”
I’m no stranger to the fact that, in many cases, it’s the cost of traveling that can be the overwhelming problem. Last year, I wrote a blog post about the 5 Money Choices I Made In My Early 20s That I’m Thankful For In My Late 20’s, and it’s those foundational decisions that have helped me set myself up for life of traveling.
Budgeting is not fun. However, the easiest way to save up money for travel is to automate your savings. Create a budget that allows you to set aside any amount of money toward travel. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount — even five dollars will do. Now, automate that saving to a new savings account dedicated exclusively to your traveling goal. When you don’t see that money in your checking account, you are far less likely to spend on things you don’t need. I personally have been using Smarty Pig for years, however I’ve also heard great things about personal finance apps like Digit and Simple.
3. Embrace Your Entrepreneurial Side
In this day and age, almost every single finance-related article will tell you a side hustle is the key to financial freedom. I’m constantly finding a variety of ways to bring in extra cash, which all goes directly to my travel fund. My key to success in the side hustle business is to not overthink it. Don’t expect to be raking in a huge amount of money from your side hustle, start small. I actually found $43 worth of change in 2016 just by picking up change off the sidewalks during my walk home from work. I sold old clothes that I no longer wear on websites like Poshmark & Ebay, and also picked up a few babysitting jobs. Every single penny of that money went directly into my travel savings account.
Have a talent for calligraphy or drawing? Teach a Skillshare class and make a few extra bucks teaching others your talent. The possibilities are endless, and every little bit helps you reach your savings goal.
4. Become a Puzzle Master
Traveling the world can get expensive, but the reality of that statement is that higher travel costs are almost always associated with a convenience factor. The trick with saving money and keeping travel costs low is to become flexible in your planning, and make your money work for you. More popular destinations around the world, like Paris & London, will come with a cost. However, if you expand your horizons, you’ll see that this world is filled with amazing destinations that are far more budget-friendly. Countries like Taiwan, Colombia, and Hungary are great travel destinations where the dollar has a lot of value.
Still interested in those more popular cities and countries? Learn to hack your travel like a puzzle master. Websites like momondo.com and travel apps like Hopper & Skyscanner are out there to help you book the best possible travel at the lowest cost. Take some time to figure out how to use them, and soon you’ll learn that with a few simple hacks, you can really save some money.
So if you’ve added “travel more” to your resolutions this year, truly do everything you can to make it happen. Everything is possible in this world, as long as you are willing to really work for it. Hopefully these tips help you achieve your travel goals this year. As for me, 2017 is gearing up to be an exciting year. I’m excited to be heading out to Costa Rica with one of my favorite companies, Under30Experiences to celebrate my 29th birthday. I’ve also book a trip to France and Spain for later in the summer, and am currently in the process of planning a quick trip to Greece.
Now, where to do you plan to travel this year?
Monica Modzelewski is a Chicago-based HR Professional by day and lifestyle blogger at night. Monica’s blog, Caravan of Style, focuses on career advice and affordable fashion for young women in the workplace.
Image via Unsplash