We need two things to travel—time and money.
The problem is, in order to acquire enough time to do and see the things that I want I usually have to quit my job, leaving me with plenty of time but not that much money.
I first caught the travel bug during my junior year in college when I took a semester to study abroad in Ireland and I quickly realized how expensive this new hobby of mine could be.
I needed to bridge the gap between my finances and the overwhelming need I felt to just go.
Here are some of the tricks and tips I’ve picked up along the way:
The first and best thing I did to make sure I could travel was to make it priority number one.
Using my motivation as a filter through which all of my decisions are made I am able to make surprising sacrifices in the name of the next grand adventure.
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
Travelers stay with host families and do chores (anything from weeding to wine making to fencing) around their houses or more typically farms (usually organic) in exchange for room and board. The best part about this arrangement is you get to meet and stay with locals. Plus, if you’re short on cash doing this means you only have to budget for transportation costs.
When I WWOOFed (yep, just used it as a verb) in Australia and New Zealand I found that a typical day of work usually lasted three to six hours with two days off a week. My host families were great and on my days off they were more than happy to give me rides into town, drop at a local hiking trail or show me the sites.
Couchsurfing (CS) is similar to WWOOFing but was conceived for all us slackers! The main difference between the two programs is that CS does not require doing anything in return for a place to crash (it also doesn’t include food).
The basic premise is that people who live in cool places (or even not-so-cool places) have an extra bed or couch and are kind enough to offer it up to the weary travelers out there.
There are several different “levels” of CS in terms of commitment. For instance, the few times I’ve used it I had a place to stay, but I was looking for someone who lived in town, spoke English and could maybe show me around.
This is a great option to test the waters at first, especially as a woman who often travels alone. Meeting for coffee or a city tour is usually pretty safe. Of course, there is the opposite extreme, in which you can use CS for all of your travel needs. In fact, Amanda Palmer has made this her primary resource when on tour.
4) Teach Abroad
This is one of my favorites because not only to do you get to travel to a new and exciting place, but you get paid to be there!
I mean, could it get any better? Now I can travel around and afford it, paradox solved.
I taught English in South Korea for two years through a program called EPIK (there are many programs in many other countries as well). In order to qualify to work for them you have to have a degree in anything and be from a native-English-speaking country.
I worked for a public school and as part of my contract I was paid a good monthly salary, I had paid sick days, medical insurance, four weeks of paid vacation and they paid my rent!
With all the vacation days, the good money and Korea’s close proximity to so many other countries I was able to travel a lot!
5) Work Seasonal Jobs
The very nature of a seasonal job is to only be committed to work for a few months a year, leaving you free to travel the rest of the time.
I especially recommend the kind of job that requires you to live there, this way that pesky rent bill is taken care of and there is more disposable income for the next trip.
Not only that, but most of the summer camps, group homes and spending-the-night-required-jobs I’ve had also hooked me up with free food!
Airbnb is a great new travel concept that is gaining popularity all over the world.
It breaks down like this.
We budget travelers are always looking for a deal, so people who are leaving for a while “rent” out their houses or apartments for much less than it would cost to stay at a hotel for (in most cases) a much nicer place to stay, win/win.
Make friends with someone who works at an airline and ask them to hook you up with a “buddy pass”. This is a ticket you only have to pay the taxes on. The catch? A seat is not guaranteed, so if the flight is full and everyone shows up you get bumped. If you’ve got the time though, it’s worth the risk.
Like I said, make it a priority and things will fall into place, opportunities will present themselves and the world will be yours.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo Credit: Flickr