How I Afford to Travel the World One Country at a Time
When I started working, I began keeping track of my expenses and made sure that I allocate a certain amount for my savings. But along the way, I also fell in love with something expensive— traveling. Through the years, I was able to bring myself to a few counties in an outside of the Philippines. It wasn't easy. There’s a lot of work involved to make traveling the world possible. But I think I'm getting by alright. So, like the usual, I am going to share with you my style and thoughts on how I afford to travel the world one country at a time.
1. I am cheap
Being cheap doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you know. If you’re trying to live a life full of travels, you’ll make an effort to embrace it. When I started traveling, I used to hate staying in inns or shared accommodations. But now, I have learned to love it.
It’s hard not to say that traveling is expensive. It is, after all, a period when we don’t spend our time and money the way we usually do. But if you’re open to finding alternatives, it’s possible to afford to travel.
Just keep in mind that being cheap doesn’t always depend on how much something costs. Being cheap, for me, means paying the right amount for its quality and not basing my purchase because it is a known brand.
If I were alone, I’d happily stay in well-researched hostels. That way, I get to save accommodation and sometimes transportation money. But if I’m traveling with a group, I broaden my options, too, and consider their preferences.
When I am not traveling, I usually don’t spend all out, too. My main expenditures are books which are pretty hard to resist. But since I can’t give up physical books, I try not to buy or upgrade things that I don't need instead. I’m still happy with my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge from 2016 even though we’re in 2019 waiting for S10's release.
2. I try not to spend impulsively
Note the word I try! Hey, I am not perfect! Sometimes, I get lured into buying things that I don’t need and regret it after! Sometimes, you can’t help it. It doesn’t mean that it’s okay to happen all the time. But it’s also important not to beat yourself out of it because you made a wrong decision once.
I used to buy unnecessary souvenirs from places that I visit just for them to end up in a box that I don’t even look at every single day. But as I travel more, I realized that I don’t always have to buy a souvenir. The experience itself is a memento of my travels, after all!
These days, I mostly have photos and refrigerator magnets for myself. Although I still need improvement when it comes to spending for my loved ones, I’ve decided to work hard on that this year.
3. I have travel funds
The main reason I can afford to travel in the first place is that I created a travel fund for myself. Since I had allocation for savings, bills, and tithes, I thought that it would be nice if I have something for leisure, too. It doesn’t have to start big. But it serves as a motivation to save money for my present and future.
Since I have dream places to visit, I save money for them. But I also have a separate travel fund for my other trips. These trips are usually in Asia, so it’s quite cheaper. Since I make quite a lot of travels within the year, this fund gets almost drained and needs to be replenished yearly from my 52-week money challenge savings.
4. I take money challenges seriously
Speaking of 52-Week Money Challenge, it is what I use to permit myself to travel to a lot of countries. Since I take it seriously, I get to save an impressive amount of my money to fund my travels and also to invest.
I commit to at least two savings challenges a year. And although it’s tough to finish, I do my very best to do so. It’s not just traveling the world that inspires me to do it— it’s also not getting broke after too many trips.
I've told you that traveling is expensive, right? Let’s be real. If we purely invest in the present (travel) and don’t invest for the future, that’s not being realistic. YOLO (You Only Live Once) is old, think about YAGO (You Also Grow Old).
5. I plan my trips accordingly
Or at least I try to, again. But I try my very best. If I’ve already overbooked, I stop booking seat sales for the year. Asian trips are affordable because they are significantly cheaper. But when if I go outside, it’s harder to manage.
In 2017, I overbooked and was just saved by having to cancel three Asian trips after my travel to Australia. But if it weren’t for personal reasons, I also would have gone to Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam in the same year. And boy, does that mean my travel fund will turn negative? Glad it didn’t push through. But I’ve learned my lesson.
6. I budget my expenses
Since I get to identify the amount of my travel fund at the beginning of the year, this is a little easy. But I also book some of my travels within the year, so I can’t be complacent in merely splitting my travel fund into two or three. Instead, I try to stick to the lowest amount I have to shell out for a specific trip. If I do that, I get to carry the excess over for my next travels.
Budgeting travel expenses can be hard if you don’t have the time to do research. But while it takes away some of your time to relax, it does you good. And after all, having excess money at the end of the trip gives you the chance to treat yourself with a massage, get a nice meal, or even a second trip, right?
As I write this, I think about the Japanese Yen, Taiwanese Dollar and Vietnamese Dong still sitting in my wallet waiting for my next trips.
7. I DIY my travels whenever I can
The DIY or Do-it-Yourself method is a traveler’s best friend. Why not join an overpaid tour if you can get to your destination on your own, right? Most of the time, DIY type of travels save you a lot of money. I did it when I visited Nami Island in South Korea, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Going on a DIY journey helps me manage not just my money but my time as well. Since I have a slight knee injury, I don’t like getting rushed when traveling. So, it’s a win-win situation for me. But if I can’t manage it on my own, I still go on tours and enjoy them all the same.
8. I try to have backups and reinforcements for emergencies
I may have gotten the hang of traveling light. But as I grow old, and experience difficulties especially when flying solo, I learned the importance of having backups and reinforcements.
Although I am usually on a budget, I always have more cash in case of emergencies. I also bring extra medicines, clothes, and things that I might need extra when I travel.
Since I’ve stopped not having checked-in baggage when traveling solo, I utilize every kilogram I’m allowed to bring. The bike locks are always useful when I’m staying in hostels. Also, having a water bottle or extra padlock saves me from unnecessary expenses!
9. I am open to all types of travel
Traveling solo may sometimes not be budget friendly. But I think that it also helped me save a lot of money. When I’m alone, I get to skip the places that I don't like to visit without being a killjoy to my friends.
When traveling with friends, I get to enjoy sharing accommodation, food and transportation expenses. It’s also fun and economical. Plus, you get to have memorable moments with them!
Whether you are traveling solo or with a company both have its pros and cons. But being flexible and accepting that both are fantastic ways of going on trips is even better than comparing which one should be your ultimate way.
10. I make the most of my travel
No matter how short or long my trips are, I try to make the most of it. There are days when I want a laid-back day. But I also don’t let myself leave a country when I haven’t even explored a bit of it.
Since I’ve spent my hard-earned money and vacation leave, why not enjoy the moment? Learn new things, know more about the history and culture and meet people. It’s what makes all the expenses worth it. And at the end of the day, all your takeaways are going to be the reasons why you find ways so that you can afford to travel.
There are many ways on how to save money before and during your travels. But the effort you have to exert depends on your existing spending habits. There is no universal formula that we can follow to afford traveling because it's always a case to case basis. But getting pointers from other travelers are useful, too.
Just remember: it's not always about the money. It's about your will, too Your salary doesn't dictate what you get to keep. It will always go down to your lifestyle.
So, after sharing my tips on how I afford to travel, where do you think your attitude can take you?