One of the most frequent questions I get asked – after "When is your next big trip?" – is how I can afford to travel so often. It can be tough to make ends meet, even with a fixed income. For a lot of people, the idea of saving up for a trip means making lifestyle sacrifices. It means going out for supper less, going to less movies, and spending less time out on the town.
For other people – especially younger people who are already struggling financially – this isn't even an option. They already make sacrifices to make ends meet. For a lot of today's youth, buying weekly groceries simply isn't possible. Telling them to spend less on luxury items isn't going to help them, since they already can't afford basic necessities. Not buying a $5 coffee every day isn't going to solve their problems, since they can't afford a $5 coffee to begin with.
I know this because I'm one of these people. I struggle to make ends meet, but I'm doing a lot better now than when I was fully employed. I can afford rent, go out for food once or twice a week, and I have a little bit extra to spend at the end of the month. This article isn't meant to tell people how if they just stop buying avocados they can afford a house in five years. This is a legitimate article about how to save money to travel the world. So, how do you do it?
1. Sell Your Stuff
My friends over at Sell All Your Stuff have some great advice on selling your stuff and living a minimalistic lifestyle. To quote them, who in turn quoted a movie, "The things you own ends up owning you". Are you living a life worth living, or are you living a life to pay bills?
For those who follow me on social media, you'll know my tire blew on my car a few weeks ago. I put it on my credit card, but it still cost $400, which was $400 I don't have. For the next foreseeable future, all my extra money is going towards my new wheels.
If I use the idea of selling my stuff to make extra money, I can easily make $400. For example, I have rows upon rows of PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 games. I have Final Fantasy 1 through to 12, I have Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, Spiderman, and about a half dozen other games. The thing is, I haven't touched them in over a decade. Sony will never support those games again, and I will never play them again. So why do I keep them? I can sell them for $5 a game and make anywhere from $50 - $70, just off them alone. I could sell the consoles too, which I could get $50 or more for as well.
I'm in the same position with books. I used to be a huge Lemony Snicket fan, so I have all 13 of the Series of Unfortunate Events book, plus The Unauthorized Autobiography. I'm never going to read them again, but maybe somebody else will. I could sell the whole collection for $30 or more and free up some space on my bookshelf. (And let's not even get started on my Stephen King collection.)
(And yes, it does bug me that The Vile Village is a softcover while all the others are hardcover.)
I also have a very large collection of plates in my cupboard. In fact, I have thirty plates in my cupboard. I don't need thirty plates. I need five plates. My plates go from my sink to my drying rack and back again. There are about two dozen plates in my cupboard I will never use and I wouldn't miss if I sold them.
It isn't much, but if I sold the above items, I would not only pay off my tires, but free up some space around my apartment too.
2. Sell Your Extra Money
If you travelled before, you probably have extra money left over from a past trip. I collect coins and bills, so I have binders full of them. Over the years, I've been strapped for cash and I've had to resort to parting with a bill or two to make ends meet. Two of the biggest I had to sell were my €100 and £50 bills I got when I went to Europe in 2011. Those alone gave me $240. It was tough to do, but got me through until the next pay cheque.
I only had one of each of those bills, but I have duplicates of other bills just laying around. For example, I have three $500 Hong Kong bills. If I sell two of them, I can make about $180. That's $180 I have sitting in a binder, that I look at maybe twice a year.
These are more extreme examples, but if you have some American money in your wallet, you can sell that for a bit more than its face value. $20 USD will get you $25 CAD, which may not seem like much, but it's worth more than having unusable currency in your wallet. Even spare change can make you some extra money. I have extra change from my time in Japan, Ukraine, Poland, Western Europe and the UK. I could easily sell that for a profit at the bank. Right now they're laying in plastic bags and Tupperware containers in a box in my closet.
3. Travel Smart, Travel Cheap and Travel Long-Term
The most expensive part of any trip is getting to that location. Regardless of it being a six-hour drive or a six-hour flight the bulk of your budget is going to be chewed up by travel costs. Thankfully, there's a few ways to work around this.
The first is to travel out of season. The Eiffel Tower is still beautiful in the spring, and the sands of Cancun are still soft in October. You won't see as many tourists and you might not have the same experiences, but you're still going to get to where you want to be. On my first trip to Europe, I went in March, and while the weather wasn't perfect, it was alright. Some nights were cold, it rained in London and Amsterdam, was foggy in St. Goar and was dreary in Innsbruck. But, by going in March instead of July, I not only saved several hundred dollars, I also had an amazing time.
On my second trip to Europe in 2016 I had a budget in mind. It was a quick week-long trip, but I wanted to keep it under $2000. I was going to Krakow, Poland for a day, jumping over to Kyiv, Ukraine for four days, and then back home. The flights from Canada to Poland, Poland to Ukraine, and Ukraine to Canada chewed up about $1500 of my budget, so that left me with $500 for food, accommodations, expenses and tours.
I knew I couldn't stay in a nice hotel in either city with that budget, so I went with an Airbnb in Krakow, and a hostel in Kyiv. My Airbnb was $38.80 a night (plus 10%) and my hostel was about $12 a night. In total, my two nights in Krakow and four nights in Kyiv only cost me less than $155. That left me with $345 for everything else I needed to do, which was a pretty good deal!
Although I was able to stay under budget on that trip, it's actually something very difficult to do when going to Europe. If you're looking for more affordable travel, you'll want to look to South America or Asia. Once you get somewhere like that, it's very affordable to travel throughout it. In fact, a lot of bloggers (and Boombers) move to Asia for that very reason. According to Expatistan.com, the cost of living in Seoul, South Korea is 1% lower than living in Regina, Saskatchewan. 1% doesn't seem like very much, but Seoul has a population of 9.6 million people, while Regina has a population of 250,000. (In comparrison, it is 16% more expensive to live in Vancouver than it is to live in Regina.)
If you're looking for a more drastic change, you'll want to look at Denpasar, the capital of Bali, which is where a lot of "digital nomads" go to live. The cost of living in this beautiful island resort is 66% cheaper than living in Regina. Rent in an "expensive" neighbourhood is less than $620 a month, while rent for a basement suite in Regina is over $1000. I don't know about you, but I sure wish I had an extra $380 a month!
One of my big travel inspirations, Ashlyn George over at Lost Girl's Guide to Finding the World, even says in her article How I Afford to Travel the World, that she doesn't even got to Europe because she can't afford it. She has been to every continent on the planet, so if she's saying there's cheaper options, there's definitely cheaper options.
4. Know When to Go
Booking a trip can be tricky. Should I book now, or should I book next week? Sometimes flights sell out fast and you have to pay more because you hesitated, or sometimes flights open up over night (but that almost never happens).
A word of advice, if you're looking to go to Europe, book three to six months in advance. Seats to Europe are constant and happen year-round. They aren't looking to sell out the planes because they're always going to be full. If you wait until the last minute to buy tickets, your paying last-minute prices. On the flip side, if you're going somewhere warm for the winter, your best bet is to book a week or two weeks in advance. Planes going south want to be full since their season of travel is shorter. Airlines drop their prices as the date approaches as an incentive for people to hop aboard. There's no reason why you couldn't be in Cancun for a week long, all-inclusive stay for less than $1000 in February. You can't do that during the peak travel times to Europe.
5. Get A Second Job
Now, this is an obvious one. If you work more, you should make more money. But, that doesn't always happen. Some people already work two or three jobs and are barely making by. Telling people to get another job doesn't solve any problems. Instead, the extra stress and fatigue caused by working more can only make matters worse.
If you're looking to work and save money for a second job, instead of working for another business or restaurant, you should try working for yourself. I make a living freelance writing and coding. Some people sell jewelry, shampoo, hand crafted wood sculptures, or offer piano lessons. Some people create video, animations, logos or music. Some people make a living off websites like Fiverr, or Airbnb or even YouTube or Twitch.
I know dozens of people who work at one job, and then go home and work at another. Their main job is to keep the lights on, but the second job – the fun job – is what makes life worth living. In fact, most of the wealthiest people on the planet work multiple jobs, and they don't work for other people. You could work for a restaurant for $12 an hour, or you could design their poster or manage their social media for $20 or $30 an hour. I know a guy who changes companies $75 an hour to make logos. He can do that because he's good at his job, and his clients know he's worth the cost. You're worth more than minimum wage, and if you're going to invest your free time into making more money, do it so that you're making money by doing something you love. Remember, if an employer hires you, they're making money, not the other way around.
6. Talk to Somebody Who Knows Money
Let's say you don't want to sell your book collection, and you don't want to dig under couch cushions for money, and you don't want to go to a second world country for your vacation, and you don't want to work a second job. Maybe you just want the money you have now to go further tomorrow. If that's the case, then you'll want to talk to a financial adviser. They are professionals at taking extra money, investing it and turning it into something more. It could be to help you buy a house, a car, a pair of plane tickets or even invest in your future.
This isn't a get rich quick scheme. It isn't about investing $100 in Bitcoin and withdrawing $40,000 six months later. This is a long-term investment. If you put $25 of each paycheque every two weeks into a 10% interest account, in a year you will have about $715.
It's also good to talk to financial advisors about how to manage money that you have in your pocket right now. What's eating up most of your money? Is it food, is it rent? Can you downsize? Is there somewhere cheaper you can shop? Walmart is a lot cheaper than Sobeys, and shopping at one or the other could save you hundreds of dollars. Myself, I go through cereal like a mad man, and I buy my cereal at Shoppers because they're open late and I'm never organized enough to get to Walmart before it closes. If I bought cereal at Walmart, I would probably save $25 - $50 a month just on that.
This article focuses on staying where you live and travelling the world from there, but there are plenty of other jobs where you can travel the world and make money, like working on a cruise ship, joining international work programs, teaching English aboard, etc. Was there anything else you'd like to see on this list? Do you have any advice for people who are trying to make some extra income? Tell me about it in the comments below!
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
I don't often take blog requests, but a friend approached me recently and asked about Venice. He's traveling to Italy for a wedding this summer and is stopping in Venice for few days. He asked me if I knew what he could do in the Floating City, so I racked up a list of ten things for him to see.
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if I missed anything, what your favorite thing to see in Venice was, or if you plan to go visit Venice after reading this!
About a year and a half ago I visited Kyiv, Ukraine. As I walked down the millennium old streets and gawked at the towering cathedrals, I saw the beginnings of a new country, one that was slowly rebuilding from a much darker time. The process of what I was seeing had a name. It was called decommunization.
Decommunization includes renaming architecture, changing laws and protocols, and even tearing down monuments. People's Friendship Arch in Kyiv, for example, which symbolised the friendship between the Communist East and the Capitalist West, was torn down. Some statues, like war memorials, are exempt, but there is still talk of making modifications to them. Anywhere you go throughout the former Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle are being removed – not from history, but from modern society.
If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.
I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.
If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.