Does money matter?
Yes and no. While money matters and allows you to do what you want to do, you must compromise to figure out exactly what is most important to you. Do you truly value visiting museums? Then that's your splurge item. Really enjoy going for meals out? Then that's your thing. But if you're traveling on a budget, you have to have determination to know when to say no, but especially to know when to say yes.
Why do you travel?
When I finished my freshman year of college, I admit it, I lost myself. Throughout my childhood and high school, I defined myself by my friends, my church, my activities, singing, ice skating, performing, music. But when I left for college, all those were taken away from me. Suddenly, I was in a brand new place with new friends, new activities, and everything that I knew was suddenly gone.
One of my closest friends passed away during my freshman year, and I didn't take it very well. Not that something like that can ever come at a good time, but it came at the worst time, while I was struggling to find out who I even was anymore. I turned to bad habits, and destructive relationships, seeking some sort of consolation somewhere. It wasn't until a year and a half later, at one of my lowest lows, when I visited my college advisor about my graduation plan. On a whim, she said "yeah you're fine on credits! You could even study abroad for a year and still graduate on time." I knew what I had to do.
Later that night, I called my parents and told them my plan. I am so thankful to have unbelievably loving, kind, caring, and supportive parents. Not everyone is this lucky. They were stoked about the idea, and suddenly, I was sitting on the living room of my sorority house, watching the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and filling out an application to go to Madrid.
Three years later and now I'm living in London, pursuing a masters degree in International Human Rights. Now is the time where I get to combine everything that I love into one. Being a human rights advocate, I get to be in an international environment, which is crucial for what I want to do. I get to meet cool people from all over the world, which I would never get to do back at home. I don't get to travel as much as I would like to because of school, but every second I get, I try to get out of here.
Travel is and will always be an addiction for me. Every single second of every single day, I miss my family, my friends, the comfort of my massive bed waiting for me at home, the affection of my dog, and sometimes, I just want a goddamn good cheeseburger. But I have my whole life to go back to those things. I know they'll all be waiting for me with open arms (especially the cheeseburger), when I get home.
The truth is, I love traveling because I love who I am when I'm doing it. For the first time in my life, I could be completely alone and be completely okay. I didn't have to surround myself with a thousand friends, or ice skating, or singing, or performing, to know exactly who I was. Solitude was finally doing me good. I can be surrounded with love and not immediately next to it. I can be whoever I want to be. Today, I am more comfortable with myself than I was yesterday, because of what travel has given me.
The Long(ish) story of how i get to travel the world.
Travel is not as expensive as you may think. Yes, you need money, surely. But it's not impossible. It requires saving, working hard, putting money away, and being responsible. But that's about it.
When I moved abroad in 2012 to study and teach English, I found a program that was actually cheaper than my university tuition. Yep. You heard that right. And it wasn't just slightly cheaper. The program was significantly cheaper than paying to go to college. And the cost of the program also included room and board. So that's rent AND food/drink that I normally would have to set aside money for, that I no longer had to worry about. The rest of the money that I earned from teaching, and that I had saved up, went directly to traveling.
I was so lucky to have my parents help me out with the costs of my program. If I didn't have their help, I wouldn't have been able to study there. However, all of the money that I spent on travel I earned through 4 months of working.
I saved and saved for those four months, and I worked two jobs that I absolutely hated. But it was so worth it, because every penny I earned went straight into my bank account for traveling, which eventually took me to 25 different countries in the span of 10 months.
While I was in Spain, I taught English. While I only taught part time, it was enough cash to fund some traveling and extra activities. It was a very minimal commitment, I got to enhance my Spanish skills
Depending on where you are, you can really streeeeettttcccchhhh your dollar to its maximum. It's not impossible.
Lots of patience, lots of hostels, lots of scouring budget airline websites trying to find cheap flights, lots of being open-minded, lots of multi-tasking, lots of calls home to my family, lots of support from my friends, and lots and lots and lots of melatonin (for jetlag).
The thing is, there's no perfect formula for being the perfect budget traveler. I mess up every single time I travel. And there's no right or wrong way to travel. I travel the way that I do because it allows me to maximize the amount of trips that I can take, rather than taking one or two really expensive ones.
I'm not going to give away all of my tips or tricks on here. That would just get you out of reading my blog! Now that you've got sort of a gist of who I am, get out of here and start reading!