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How I Afford to Travel

One of the questions people ask me when I mention my travels is “How did you afford all that?”. I have visited 20 countries and counting, did 3 study abroad programs in undergrad AND spent an entire year living in England for my master’s degree. Now, I definitely have debt from school and have made some risky financial choices, but I never regretted money spent travelling. I prioritized travel in a way that helps me afford to travel even when I am pinching pennies elsewhere. If you want to travel more and aren’t sure how to make travel affordable, these are all my insider tips!

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Get your priorities straight

My biggest piece of advice to anyone that wants to travel is to make it a priority. Whether you want to take a trp 20 minutes or 20 hours away, it has to be your priority. If you always put your plans on hold, then you are never going to take that big trip. You have to take the plunge and put travel at the top of your to do list. Whatever your greatest obstacle is, find a way around it. This might mean picking up an extra shift at work or taking online surveys to make the extra money. Trust me, it will be worth it when you take that trip. It is much easier to save money for a trip if you are fully committed to taking it. Planning for a far away idea is much easier to make excuses about than a trip that is quickly approaching.

Do Your Research

When you are planning your trip, be sure to research how much different destinations cost. If you are visiting Disney World for instance, don’t be surprised by the prices of everything. Use the tools at your disposal like google and pinterest to learn everything you can about your destination. Look up great free activities, like these amazing free things to do in London, and take advantage of them! You control how much you spend so be sure to take cost into account when you plan your itinerary. Read about how others save money for their travels and create your own system. There is an endless amount resources to help you save money on your travels so make sure you use them!

Make the most of Travel Rewards Programs

One of the best ways to help make travel affordable is travel rewards programs through a credit card. Now, I have two airline rewards cards and I use the rewards in different ways. I have the Delta Skymiles Card from American Express, which I use primarily for my international travel as Delta’s partnerships make it easy to travel all over the place. My second card is the JetBlue card which I use for domestic travel especially since JetBlue has a great flight network up and down the east coast where I live. The key to having a credit card like this is to only use it for expenses you would have anyway and to pay it off regularly, and by doing that you can earn plenty of miles towards flights without getting into trouble with a lot of debt.

One of the best parts about a travel card is the sign-up bonus. For instance, with Delta right now, the bonus is equivalent to enough miles for a round-trip domestic flight. When I first signed up for my Delta card, I used the signup miles for a round-trip flight to Los Angeles from Florida. I have also been able to redeem miles for one-way flights to England and used them for money off various tickets. The options for redemption are endless and save you money on your tickets all the time! Your travel rewards program may also run special flight deals which helps you to find cheap flights for your trip!

Make Travel your Job

There are many ways you can make travelling into a career and if you aren’t big on the idea of a 9-5 job and you want to travel long-term, then this is the best approach. Many people find creative ways to work while travelling as yoga instructors and SCUBA Diving teachers, but keep in mind that those require the upfront investment in certification.

Another popular way to make travel your job is through Teaching English Abroad. I have friends currently teaching English in Japan and South Korea, and I am currently in the process of applying to teach in Spain next year, so you have plenty of options of places to go. Most jobs pay between $800-$1500 a month but depending on the country it may be more. Teaching abroad can be done through organized programs like the JET program in Japan or the Auxiliares program in Spain, or you can obtain a TESL(teaching English as a Second Language) certification either through an online or in-person class and you can work as a freelancer.

You aren’t likely to get rich teaching abroad, but you will make enough to live comfortably and travel in your spare time, plus you will be paid to live in a beautiful foreign country while working decent hours. Being abroad for work can make travel between locales much more affortable!

Study in a Foreign Country

While in undergrad, I studied abroad on 3 different programs. These programs were often less than the cost to coordinate travel on my own(especially when you consider scholarships). The best part was that I could use the financial aid I received from school. There are a ton of scholarships for students that want study abroad, especially students from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds. For my 6-week program in Russia, I earned a scholarship that coverd the full cost of attendance. If you research your options, you can find the funding to make your study abroad dreams come true!

An alternative to studying abroad is to attend school full-time in a foreign country. By moving to the UK for my Master’s degree, I actually saved money. I earned my degree in one year instead of 2 and tuition was about the same cost per year as in the states meaning I paid half price for my degree. On top of that, there are several countries in Europe where it is even less expensive to study in, particularly Germany. By going university abroad you get to live abroad while saving money. Its a win-win situation!

There are an endless number of ways to make it so you can afford to travel. You can house-sit your way around the world or follow a career that lets you travel endlessly. The one thing that these paths have in common is that they make travel a high priority.

From one misguided millennial to the world, these are all the ways I can afford to travel and I hope they help you too!

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