One of the best things about my decision to travel the world has been the number of people that have approached me to tell me they want to do the same thing. Unfortunately, it’s usually followed by a bunch of typical first world excuses, including:
- I don’t have the money.
- I can’t afford it.
- It’s too expensive.
Lack of funds is the predominant excuse people use to quash their travel dreams (or any dream, for that matter).
Well to this I say – no more, my friends.
Below, you will find some solutions to all the nagging financial hindrances that have kept you from following your dreams of travelling (or otherwise). I may have skipped law school, but it doesn’t mean I can’t still argue like a lawyer. I’m fighting for you and your dreams, after all.
EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES…
“Can’t afford it – I have a house to pay for.”
- Rent out your place. Contact a realtor, put your place up on Facebook or Craigslist, or hang flyers if you need to. I managed to rent out my place exactly one week after I called my ninja realtor. Once I rented it out, I knew there was no turning back (after all, I was now homeless).
- Airbnb your place. For those of you more interested in sporadic or short-term travel, renting your place out on Airbnb is a fantastic way to cover your expenses while you’re away. I originally planned to put my place up on Airbnb until I discovered that local laws prohibited it, so make sure your city allows the practice to avoid getting nabbed with a hefty fine.
- Sell your place. This might seem a little extreme for some, but it is certainly an option. At the time of writing, Montreal (my hometown) is a buyer’s market, so it made much more financial sense to rent my condo as opposed to selling at a low price. If it happens to be a seller’s market in your area, you might want to consider cashing out.
“OMG I so wish I could do that but I have a car “.
- Sell your car. Facebook, Craigslist, and local auto mags might make good options to help you unload your vehicle.
- Break your lease. In Canada, Leasebusters.com is a popular Web site that helps leasees break their car lease. I simply put up my car on Facebook; someone on my friends list shared it, and someone on her friends list reached out to me. Within a week, she had agreed to take over my lease.
“Where am I gonna put all my stuff? In storage?”
- Yes. You can put your stuff in storage. If you must remove your belongings from your place, than getting storage is the way to go, and yes, it will incur a cost. It’ll still be a lot less than your rent, but shop around in your country / province/ state to find the best bargain.
- Ask your parents or friends if they’ve got spare room for your shit. If you’re trying to be ultra frugal like me, work out an arrangement with your fam or friends. They may let you sneak a few of your items back home, and you can sweeten the deal by throwing in a few bucks, as well.
- SELL. YOUR. SHIT. This was the route I decided to take (though I did leave a few vegan cookbooks in my parents’ garage). I sold or gave away nearly everything I owned: my Oprah coffee table book, dining room set, all my cutlery/ plates / kitchenware – even my curtains and fixtures. I even sold my dad’s tool kit that I used to remove said fixtures…for 5 bucks (sorry Dad!). I HIGHLY recommend this option if you’re looking to make some fast money, save on storage costs, and learn some extremely valuable life lessons like:
Tyler Durden said it best, people. Once upon a time, I couldn’t imagine getting rid of my sofa. I had spent months looking for the perfect reconstituted black leather sectional sofa. MONTHS!!
You can imagine how this story ends. I ended up selling my sofa for HALF of what I paid for it. The sofa was only three years old and in mint condition.
But guess what? After I got rid of it, I had 500 bucks cash in my hand. 500 bucks to use towards a plane ticket, three weeks in Thailand, or a month in India. I was holding FREEDOM in my hands.
Now ask me how much I wish I were sitting on my sofa watching Julia Roberts eat gelato in Eat Pray Love instead of planning my road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway.
I could be wrong but chances are – you probably wouldn’t miss your damned sofa, either.
“Ok, but still – it would take forever to save the amount of money I’d need for a trip like that”.
- Work out a budget and set a realistic timeline. For some odd reason, people think world travel is tantamount to the most expensive endeavour one could ever undertake. And the truth is, it certainly can be – if you’re accustomed to first class travel, penthouse suites and enjoying Westernized experiences in developing countries. However, if you want to see and experience the world through more culturally inclined, budget travel – you might find out that living a nomadic lifestyle is less expensive than living in one place. Once you’re on the go, many of the expenses that drain our bank accounts – electricity, Internet, car payments, rent, etc. – all disappear. When I first worked out my budget for my world trip, I signed up for Bootsnall’s free Round the World planning course, which includes a downloadable excel budget planner. After working out all the details of my itinerary, I estimated that I needed about 18,000$ CDN for my trip. I knew it would take me a little less than a year to save that amount of money if I could put aside about 1500$ a month. Now this amount may seem ridonculous and simply unfeasible to some, but there are ways to at least increase your monthly savings, including:
- Slashing your expenses. I slashed most of my expenses in order to put aside the money I needed to afford my trip. I stopped buying clothes, altogether. I cut down my alcohol consumption and stopped going to restaurants, opting for nights in with friends and Perrier. I tried to curb my spending on food. I cut my gym membership. Once I got rid of my apartment, I slashed my electricity, my Internet and my mortgage payments (covered in the rent income I received from my tenant). I also did something I swore I’d never do – I moved back in with my parents. If you don’t have the luxury of heading back home, consider getting yourself a temporary roommate.
- Find a way to increase your wealth. You can increase your wealth twofold: the first, is by increasing your net income. The second is by paying down any high interest debt. You can increase your net income by taking on more hours at work, getting a better paying job or taking on another part-time job. In order to increase my net income, I took on extra teaching contracts, found part-time work at La Senza, and signed up to be a Simulated Patient at McGill’s Simulation Center. My income increased. Now, I also had a wad of cash from all the shit I sold. Guess what I did with it. That’s right – I paid off both my credit cards and my municipal taxes. By the time I was done, I barely had any money left to contribute towards my savings, but I was elated. Why? Because my money was no longer going towards false savings; savings that you will ultimately use to pay off your mounting debts. If you do have some savings, by the way – speak to an accountant about how to maximize your savings on your next tax return, and speak to a financial advisor you know and trust about maximizing returns on your investments in high yield savings accounts.
- Combine travel with savings by finding work abroad. Though not all forms of work will help you save money abroad, working on a cruise or finding ESL teaching contracts are a few viable options that may help you save some coin while seeing the world. Check out my article on finding work abroad for more info on these options and more.
- Be disciplined as hell (read: CHEAP). I mean it. Sure, nobody likes a penny pincher, but you’re a penny pincher with a GOAL in mind – not a penny pincher saving for your elusive retirement goals, scrounging away hundreds of thousands of dollars to put towards your healthcare when you’re 90. The $6 you just spent on a Starbucks coffee? It can pay for one night’s accommodation in Thailand, and the $2 you just spent on a water bottle (in a developed country, no less) because you were too damned lazy to fill up your reusable one can pay for a delicious meal in India. If you have trouble being disciplined or tracking your spending, check out Mint.com, or if you’re old school like me, check out the excel planner I’ve sworn by for years.
There are many more solutions and ideas that can help you afford your travel dreams, including travel hacks, Couchsurfing and homestay, opting for a bus pass, rideshare or rental relocation instead of using your own car. Take it from someone who was in debt, had zero savings, a house, a car, a ton of crap, expensive taste and an active social life: where there’s a will, there’s a way.
What are some of the ways you’ve managed to save some coin to reach your dreams? Share your love and haterade below!