The number one thing I get asked as a travel blogger and that people in my personal life ask me is how are we able to travel so much? I will admit openly that Nick and I travel way more than the average person and while on the outside that may seem like it’s easy for us or that someone is helping support us so we can do it, that’s not the case at all. We work hard on many different platforms to make money to travel but there are also a lot of other things we do (and have done over many years now) to be able to travel a lot and today, here’s what I would suggest if you want to travel a lot and figure out how to fit it into your lifestyle.
Do you live in a really expensive city where your entire income is going to rent? Do you go out on the weekends and rack up big drink bills? Do you have a large car payment each month? Do you have a big house and a big mortgage? Those are all questions that you should start with to see where your money goes each month. For us, what people don’t often see behind the curtain of our travels is that we have a small apartment in a city that doesn’t cost a lot to live in (it’s nice that we love Portland, but it also has a very low cost compared to other places we could choose to live). We chose to buy cars that aren’t huge payments coming out of our paychecks and though we eat out at restaurants often, we don’t drink and we are mindful of cost, often taking advantage of happy hours and splitting meals. Those choices you make about your day to day life make a huge difference in where your money goes and ultimately how much of your money you’ll be able to put towards travel.
The only reason, to be really honest with you, that Nick and I are able to travel as much as we do financially is that we both work multiple jobs. As well as both working full time in our day to day jobs, we also both have side businesses that supplement our travels. I have a design business as well as this blog and Nick has a photography business that financially supplement our travels as well as other things in our life. The average person can’t afford to travel often on just an average salary. So it’s a choice of whether you want to live off of one salary or supplement it with another? For us, our priority to travel dictates that decision (as well as each of us loving what we do).
As I near the end of my twenties, I become more and more aware of how damaging debt can be. And while I’ve always been good with money, I also know that it’s easy (far too easy in our society) to rack up debt. Whether it’s student loans or credit card payments, it’s important to get yourself set up financially before you start to travel often. Pay off those debts you have but it’s also important to save money as well, whether it’s for travel down the road or just to have a chunk in your savings account. Even if it’s just $25 per paycheck, it is worth it to have money in a savings account for whatever you might need in the future.
Realistically Nick and I have only been traveling often (and abroad) for less than four years, before that we did small trips within the US but it wasn’t until after our wedding that we really sat down and figured out that we wanted to make travel a priority in our lives. And in doing that we set up a sort of five year plan of where we wanted to be down the road. You can’t just start everything at once and part of a lifestyle with lots of travel is to be responsible about it and realize what you’re sacrificing to make that a reality. Our life isn’t without sacrifices, that for us are totally manageable and things we’ve chosen not to have to be able to travel, but to others don’t seem worth the trade off. That’s something you have to figure out, what are you willing to give up to be able to add travel to your life, whether that’s living in a smaller apartment verses a big one, having kids or pets verses not having them, or being able to go out with your friends all the time and party verses choosing a simpler life, those are all choices that need to be involved in your plan.
When you’ve mastered steps 1-4 above and are finally at a point that you can start traveling often, I would suggest starting small and figuring out how much things are going to cost and how you travel. For us, we started out with trips around the US and then gradually threw in one trip abroad each year, and then escalating to two trips abroad each year and small US trips as we become more financially set and sort of figured out what worked for us. Also don’t forget about spots close to your home that might not cost very much but will satisfy that curiosity and get you traveling. Another great option is to start traveling to places that are more inexpensive locations to visit, such as SE Asia or even places in the US that aren’t major tourist destinations like New Mexico. There are lots of places that you’d be surprised at how inexpensive it is to find flights and hotels, but you have to do the research and find those places out.
At the end of the day, if you want to travel, no matter what obstacles you face, there is always a way to make it work. It might not be right away and it might not be exactly how you thought it would be, but with time and patience and planning, a lifestyle filled with travel is within reach. Keep in mind also that this process worked for us but might not necessarily work for everyone. Setting up a life you want to lead is the most important and when you figure that out, the priorities you want will follow.