How do I afford to travel so much?
I’ve been asked this several times, so I think it’s better to write an article to provide all the related information. It bothers me when someone assumes that I’m rich or that my family sponsors me. Assuming without asking is a sign of ignorance. I will not deny that I’m a privileged person: I attended university, I speak fluent English and I don’t have big debts. But all this doesn’t mean that I don’t do a big effort to afford my dreams.
I know that not everybody is able to travel —even though we, travel bloggers, say the opposite… we really want you to travel! It’s never been my interested to post beach pictures on Facebook with the “this is my office” line. It’s just rude. But I’m also sure that there is a lot of people that can travel but somehow they insist to say they can’t. I think that they don’t have the same priorities as travelers do, which is something different to say that they can’t pay for it. So, back to the subject, how can afford to travel so much?
WORK + TRAVEL
If you have read my blog, you may already know that I used to work on cruise ships, which allowed me to save a lot of money to travel. Unlike most of my colleagues that went to expensive restaurants or bought the latest technology —let’s say that there is a lot of pretending to be what you are not among the crew, something I’m not interested at all—, I saved until the last cent and I went out to discover the ports by bus or subway, but not by taxi.
That’s why I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I speak English, that’s what had opened the doors for me everywhere I go, including working under a WH Visa. If you are interested in reading how is life as a crew member on board cruise ships, this blog has a category dedicated to working on ships.
I DON’T BUY EXPENSIVE CLOTHES
For what? For me, this doesn’t make any sense. As a fashion designer —my first career— I know the value of clothes and brands. And I’m definitely not interested in spending the extra money to carry a brand’s logo on my chest —I already said I don’t care about status, right?. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like some quality garments, like winter jackets. In this particular case, I rather check when they are out of season or getting them in the United States because it is so cheap!
I DON’T DYE MY HAIR NOR USE MUCH MAKE UP
I used to change my hair color all the time. Then I had a more natural period when I just had highlights. I also love makeup, but all this implies spending money. Now I go around 99% natural —sometimes I do use some lipstick or eyeliner. If I dye my hair I do it in a way that I don’t have to run to the beauty salon every two weeks. If I buy makeup, I choose good brands, but not the most expensive ones. People think that the more money, the better the product, and that is not always the situation.
I DON’T GO TO CONCERTS OR FESTIVALS
I would have loved to go to Lollapalooza in Chile to see Eagles of Death Metal or Florence and the Machine, but for the ticket price, I can spend a week in Sao Paulo (where I was when I wrote this). Also, I prefer to go to concerts in other countries where the tickets are way cheaper, like in the US.
I HAVE A SECOND HAND PHONE
Except for my beloved computer, I try not to spend a lot of money on technology —even though I love it!. I bought my phone through a website for half it’s the price and I even recommend it as the best phone to travel.
I SELL WHAT I DON’T USE
For last Christmas, I put together all the things that I don’t use, new or old —yeah, mistakes from the past. I sold them and I made a good amount of money. Yey!
GOODBYE TO MY COLLECTION
I used to have a wide range of records and books. Both are things that I can’t take with me on my travels, so I just kept a few books and sold the records. Even though I will always prefer reading on paper, now I just download books on the Internet. The only collection I have now is a lot of passport stamps and travel magnets on the fridge.
And on the road…
I EAT VERY CHEAP
When I travel I mostly eat rice and oats. Of course, I also try some local dishes, but very rarely I go to expensive restaurants —but if I’m invited I wouldn’t say no! I buy food in the local markets and grocery stores and even I’m a lousy cook, I do the effort. I don’t like junk food at all, so it’s not an option.
I SLEEP IN HOSTELS
They are cheaper accommodation options, but I prefer hostels. I like to decide what to do and when and sometimes Couchsurfing hosts want to be with you all day. I usually pick hostels with female-only dorms that I share with 4 or 6 girls —they snore less and they smell better. I always check online reviews to make sure that the hostel is clean and well located. If you want to check more affordable or free accommodation options check 10+ ways to get really cheap or free accommodation.
I AM A FREELANCE JOURNALIST
This means I can work from anywhere in the world if I have an Internet connection and a computer. That’s why I decided to study journalism, now I have the freedom that a fashion designer I didn’t have. But not everything is perfect, being a freelance it’s not always a steady way of making a living.
I USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
This is another crucial point to answer how I can afford to travel so much. To get to my Sao Paulo’s hostel I had three options: take the airport bus from Guarulhos airport for R$ 45.50, take a taxi for an even higher price or take the local bus for just R$ 5.50. Of course, I chose the last option! Maybe it’s not the most comfortable and I don’t do it just to save money, but also to mingle with locals. I also walk a lot. A LOT. By day 2 in Sao Paulo, my feet were already destroyed! I was definitely out of training after 7 painful months without traveling.
As you can see, my way of traveling is not glamourous at all, but I like being sort of a hippie. Maybe one day I will want to and have the budget to travel another way. I also think that traveling or not traveling depends a lot on the priorities that we have in our lives… so make a decision, do you prefer the latest iPhone or a flight ticket somewhere?