Traveling is not expensive. Cruises are expensive; All-inclusive resorts are expensive; Paying for hotels every night is expensive; but traveling is not inherently expensive.
It’s all about how you do it. I’ve come to realize that we as Americans have a certain image of what it means and what it requires to travel. We typically have an image of the some of the activities I mentioned above. We typically expect that to travel we must have a lot of money and a lot of vacation days. We also typically expect to have a very specific purpose to travel and don’t necessarily think that the benefits of traveling by themselves are reason enough for travel.
I digress. I had a friend who wanted me to talk about how I have the financial ability to travel, and as I thought about it, I just realized all of the ideas I’ve had to battle through to allow myself to travel. It’s not that I haven’t had enough money or time, because I always have. So, let’s take a look at that question of finances and analyze how much you truly do need to travel.
Well, first off, we need to ask what the purpose of traveling is. Now, if you’re like most Americans, you’ll work the entire year and have a couple weeks of vacation. If you use these vacation days for family reunions or family activities, it’s very likely you won’t have enough days left to go on your own vacation. However, let’s assume that after those family activities you still have a week left of vacation time. At this point, with so little time, money is the last of your concerns. So, you probably just want to go to a beach somewhere and relax. That’s why many Americans opt for cruises or all-inclusive resorts because they don’t want to think of anything and they just want to go somewhere and be able to relax and do nothing.
Now, if you have other reasons for traveling, then your concerns may be much different. For me, one of my primary reasons for wanting to travel is to cure myself of the “American Ignorance” that so many countries know us for. Basically, I want to learn about the world, see how people live, and make as many international friends as possible. For me, the purpose for traveling is the education I can gain from doing so. With that being my purpose, my priorities will be much different than many Americans. For me, I’m interested in minimizing, as much as possible, the cost of my travels, so that I can allow myself as much time as possible for what’s important to me – learning and unique experiences.
With that as my priority, here’s how I’ve minimized my expenses which will help me travel as long as possible. First, I stopped paying rent in the USA. I was paying $425 a month for my room, and once I stopped paying that, I all of a sudden had that extra amount every month that I could use toward something else. Second, so far, I’ve tried to stay with friends or use couchsurfing.org while traveling so that I don’t have to pay rent at all. I’ve also stayed in a hostel and will do so again in the future when I have to – but I don’t think I’ll ever pay for a hotel.
I’m also looking at other options such as Wwoof where you can go work on organic farms as a volunteer for free room and board. There are so many options out there for those who want to travel and take some time off from the grind of daily work. If we just make it a priority and decide it’s something that we want to do, the how becomes much easier to figure out.
So, how much am I really spending? Well, I’m single and I don’t live a very glamorous life, so even when I’m living in the states, I usually spend around $1,000-$1,500 a month to live. I’m currently traveling on a very similar budget every month, which includes all my flight costs. So, it costs me as much to travel as it does for me to live somewhere long-term.
As you can see, it isn’t necessarily the cost of traveling that is excessive for me; it’s just a matter of how much savings I have and how long those savings will last. Ideally, it would be nice if I could figure out a way to make money on the road so that my savings aren’t being depleted, but for now, I’m just living off of my savings (well, that and any promo model gigs I can book, haha).
With that being said, it really is just an excuse for a lot of us when we talk about how we’d like to travel but that we don’t have the financial means necessary to do so. Now, we may not have the financial means to do certain types of traveling, but I’m pretty convinced that anyone can travel as long as they make it a priority. Like I said, traveling is not expensive.