As published in Drayton Valley Western Review.
I like to believe that my generation is the wanderlust generation. I feel like more and more people my age are choosing to travel instead of going through the university-marriage-kids-grandkids-retire-travel-die route of life. I do not know if I feel this way because I surround myself with like-minded people or because it really is the way young adults my age are choosing to live their lives.
There are still a few people in my group of friends who are now either engaged, happily married or awaiting new additions to their families. Sometimes, they remind me of how my time is running out and that I should probably get married and have children soon. Other times, they tell me how much they envy me for having all the time and money in the world to pursue my dream of conquering the world. The truth is, I do not but I make a way so I could.
I am going to let you in on how I was able to travel the world with the limited time and money I have.
First, I made traveling my priority. Once I have decided that I want to travel, everything else somehow fell into place. From then on, every decision I make, no matter how big or how small, is geared towards my dream of visiting every country in the world.
Next step is setting up a game plan. I figured out where I want to go and when. I also figured out how much I would need to make it possible. Once I know the answers to those, I look at my finances.
I set up a travel fund. I do not travel when I have no money saved up. One thing I have noticed is some people borrow money so they can travel. Personally, I would rather travel after saving money for it than travel now and worry about how I am going to pay for my travel expenses later.
I also make sure that whenever I get my paycheck, I put a definite amount of money in my fund. Let us say I need $3,000 to go to Europe a year from now. I divide that amount of money by 12 months which comes up to $250 a month. Every month, from my paycheck I save $250. I always pay myself first. If, let’s say, I get paid $1,000 a month, I make sure I only spend $750 that month on other things. Monthly budgeting makes it easier when I know how much I am earning and how much I need to save.
I also use my travel credit card where I can collect travel points. However, I make sure that when I swipe my credit card, I have money in my chequing account to pay for it right away. I do not go crazy swiping away my credit card because I do not want to end up with a huge debt that will stop me from traveling. This way, I am “saving money” while spending money. I mean, why use cash when I can earn points that can be converted to a free flight? Since I use my credit card religiously, after a year, I was able to fly myself from Calgary to New York for free!
When choosing a place to travel to, I choose a country or a city where I know someone. By doing so, I can possibly sleep on their couch for free. Accommodations take a huge chunk of the travel expenses so this saves me a lot of money.
Once I arrive at my chosen destination, I put myself on a budget. I divide the amount of my pocket money by the number of days I will be there and stick to it. If for some reason, I treat myself like a queen and overspend on a certain day during my trip, I make sure I make up for it by staying frugal the next day.
Befriending locals is also a great way to save money and explore the place. When I do so, I do not have to pay for a tour guide and I get to experience their place through the eyes of the locals. Seeing touristy spots are fun, but I also like to get to know the place in a more in-depth manner while making friends at the same time.
When I travel, I travel for the experience. Most of the time, experiences are free. I do not spend my money on shopping but rather I try and spend my money on things that will enrich my knowledge of the people I meet and the places I visit.
With that being said, I hope it made you realize that traveling does not have to be expensive. I also hope that if you are serious about wanting to travel, the key is to make it a priority. Once it becomes your priority, you will end up making time for it now and do everything you can to put as much money as you can towards your next trip. When you want something so badly, there will be no excuses.