A question that I keep on getting from readers or even just people I meet, is “how can you afford all this?” I know people look at me and think I’m living the dream, that I’m lucky – and to that, I’d say that I’m doing one of the two, and luck has nothing to do with where I am. Traveling long-term can be expensive, but for me it’s not a very difficult question to answer. Here’s how I can afford to travel long-term.
My Money-Saving Story:
Let’s rewind to May 2008. I just graduated university with a (useless) film studies degree. I was one of the lucky few who left university without being $20 000 (or more) in debt. With my degree in hand, I was determined to get my foot in the door of the Toronto film or television industry, but I knew that it wasn’t going to happen overnight and that I would require a ‘for now’ job. I became a waitress because it was pretty easy and a good way to earn lots of money, fast. At this point I would also like to mention that I was living at home with my parents.
To make a long story short – a few years passed and I never did get a paying job in TV or film. However, due to the fact that waitressing in North America means earning tips, I was able to make lots of money fairly easily. It was now the end of 2009 and I was fresh of the heels of a breakup, living with my parents, no prospective jobs in TV or film on the horizon, and falling into a rut. I knew something had to change. I knew that there was a part of me who was just dying to see the world around me as well as a part of me who just wanted to run away from it all and get a fresh start. In my head I started toying with the idea of long-term travel as a way to get some reflection time and to sort out a plan B.
Did I mention that by this time I had managed to save nearly $30 000? This had to do with the fact that I worked five to six nights per week at a pub in a fairly wealthy area. I became spoiled. I could easily make $1200 in tips per week. Unlike my co-workers who were always up on the latest trends, purchasing designer purses and clothes – I put away nearly every penny of my tip money into a savings account I refused to touch.
I was also still living at home with my parents – this was a huge factor in me being able to save as much money as I did, since they let me live in their basement, rent-free.
I refused to buy things that I knew I didn’t need. Also due to the fact that I was now working six nights per week, my social life whittled down to nothing. On my only day off I was usually too tired to be bothered to go out and have a night on the town.
By the time I left for my working holiday in Australia in December 2010 I had just under $50 000 in my savings account. To this day – that number is still shocking.
Major factors that helped me save money before I left:
- Living with my parents, rent-free
- Saving at least 75% of my weekly earnings and putting it into an account I refused to touch
- Forgoing restaurant lunches and dinners or nights out, saving them for special occasions only.
- Not buying every trendy little thing that came into style, just because I DID have the money.
- Working holidays – settling in a place for a few months (or more) and earning an income rather than spending every saved penny
- Hostels, couchsurfing, staying with friends, friends-of-friends, etc.
- Making my own meals rather than always eating out
- Utilizing frequent flyer programs to get flights nearly free (still have to pay tax)
- My blog – in recent months I have managed to snag a few advertisers and discounted travel opportunities, such as my experience with Nomad Adventure Tours in Africa (NOTE: the amount that I make from my blog is very miniscule in comparison to the other factors, but I thought I would let it be known – I am by no means Ms. Money-Bags because of this site, however.)
These ways are just some of the factors of how I can afford to travel long-term. No luck, just common sense and determination to work towards my big goal – long-term travel. If you have any tips or tricks, comment below and let me know how you can afford to travel long-term.