I am not ready to quit my job to travel the world. I am not ready to sacrifice everything to travel the world.
While there are a ton of articles and blog posts about how to save money for travel. How to start a vacation fund. How to pinch pennies. Let's be realistic. It is not easy.
There is no one size fits all for how to travel the world. Whether you're a backpacker, prefer luxury hotels or are excited to cruise to Nassau everyone has a different travel style.
And because of that everyone has a different way of achieving their travel goals.
For me it did not happen overnight. I did not wake up one day and decide to give it all up.
It happened gradually. It was a complete lifestyle change. I made choices in my life that may not be for everyone but they helped me to save up for the things that I love to do.
Travel costs time and cost money which are the two biggest reasons why it is not always easy to just pick up and go.
I have the same struggles just like the next person however I made some huge changes in my lifestyle which has given me the ability to travel.
This is not a post about how I quit my job to travel or how I have all the money in the world. Let's be realistic. I have a regular office job, live in NYC and have bills just like everyone else. So time and money is a big commodity.
But over time I managed to make changes to my lifestyle that have helped me to have more time and money for travel.
How to Travel the World: The Things I Gave up for Travel
(1) My Dream Home
When we first got married we bought a spacious home outside of New York City. It was a dream. I had plenty of closet space. A kitchen with real size appliances. A sofa and a love seat in my living room. I mean all things that most people that lived out of the city take for granted. I loved it.
However, it cost money. And it cost time. Saturday and Sundays spent cleaning. Spending money on repairs and upgrades. Not to mention the heating and cooling bills.
After about 8 years we decided we did not need all that space and made the decision to downsize. Now we live in a 500 square foot apartment which is the perfect amount of space for us and we spend our Saturday and Sundays traveling and not cleaning. Now I truly live in my dream home.
I used to spend so much money on books. I mean. I love to read. Not only did I have to give up books because we downsized, but it was a huge chunk coming out of my monthly budget.
Now I borrow books from the library and find free books to read online.
Amazon is a great resource for free and cheap ebooks. It's also a great resource for finding used books. I can average about a book a week. If I bought 50 books at $20 each that would be $1000. Do you know what kind of trip I can go on for $1000. I can do some real damage with that.
(3) Food and Wine
Ok. I did not give up two of my favorite things. And I would never recommend anyone to completely give up the things you love.
However in an effort to fatten up my travel fund and do things like have pizza and wine in Florence, Italy. I cut back on dining out. Instead, we cook most of our meals at home.
Feeling social. Invite your friends over and ask them to BYOB. This is a great way to spend time with friends without spending money on overpriced drinks at a crowded bar.
If you must go out then take advantage of happy hour. I personally love happy hour and if you are looking for me chances are I am hanging out at one of my favorite rooftop happy hours.
(4) Cell Phones
I have an Iphone 6. Before that I am pretty sure I had an Iphone 1 (Ask my friends. They will tell you. They made fun of me for years). My point is, I choose not to spend big bucks on a new shiny phone. My Iphone 6 works just well and I have no desire to drop $1000 on a new phone. Once again that is a vacation.
(5) Ditch the New Car
If you need a car to get to work or live then don't fall into the trap of buying a brand new car every year. If you can get away with not needing a car you can save a ton of money. (I personally bike to work). But if you need a car and you must buy new, then splurge on that car but keep it for as long as possible. As much as I would love to drive a shiny new Porsche I'd much prefer to … you guessed it. Spend my money on travel.
(6) Credit Cards
So I did not give up my credit cards. I actually use them everyday. However I do not carry a debt. Debt is expensive. Credit card fees are expensive. I use my cards for everyday purchases as a way to earn airline points however I pay off my cards every month. When you carry debt, you end up paying interest on that debt which will quickly cut into your vacation fund.
If you have credit cards, take a peek at your credit card statement and look at how much you're paying in interest. Now grab a glass of water (or wine) and recover. It's going to be ok. You can fix it. Work on paying down your debt, and cutting back your expenses. The goal is to be debt free which will put more money in your pocket in the long run.
Let me start by saying that I did not give up shopping. I just gave shopping as much as I used to. When I got my first “real job” I am pretty sure I came home everyday with a new pair of shoes or a new outfit. Now I shop often but buy sparingly. I like to look and see what is out there but instead of buying 10 pairs of black pants, I will invest in one or two solid pairs. In the long run this has saved me money. Instead of spending hundreds on random pieces of clothes I try to treat myself to 1-2 solid pieces a months. Some months I don't buy anything. But this has saved me a ton of money.
(8) Student Loans
I have heard people say that student loans are good debt. Regardless of whether they are my student loans were a huge pain in the butt. I made a few sacrifices, cut a lot of corners and made it a point to put as much money as I could afford towards my students loans. It took me forever but I eventually paid them off which means I now have more money to play around with.
It's one thing to downsize your living space. It is another thing to downsize your life. The more stuff you have the less time you have. After spending over 2 years traveling and living out of suitcase I came to realize that I do not need half the crap that I keep buying and storing and sorting through.
Downsizing has been so difficult but it has also been amazing. It takes me 20 minutes to get ready for work in the morning because I am not sorting through an endless rack of clothes. We can clean our home in under two hours from top to bottom because we do not have a ton of stuff. Time is money and the fact that I do not have to waste time sorting through stuff means I have more time to travel and do the things I enjoy. Try it out and tell me what happens.
(10) Living Above My Means
I have to say I never really lived beyond my means however I have had a moment or two when I spent a little bit too money on something only to have massive regrets because I couldn't splurge on something else. There is a balance. You should not deprive yourself of the things that make you happy but you should also be realistic. Before you put down that credit ask yourself why do you want it? Don't get caught up in others lifestyle. Be true to yourself and your lifestyle. And keep hustling until you can afford all those pretty shiny things.
(11) Keeping up with Jones'
Social media can really do damage on your wallet and ego. However one of the things I stopped doing was trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing and what everyone else has. It goes hand in hand with living above my means. Just because you see it on social media does not mean you have to have it.
By making decisions on that things I really want and really need I have been able to maximize my time and budget to travel more than I ever have. Now if I see a cute outfit or a cool destination on social media I will bookmark it. If I keep coming back to it then I will make plans to make it happen. But half the time I forget about it which means that I really didn't care for it as much as I thought in the first time.
You will be surprised at how much stuff you really don't even want. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.
The idea of giving anything up can be a daunting one and while some of the things I have given up may be more aggressive then others these are all things that I gave up over time. This is not an overnight thing. I gradually made decisions that made sense for me. Hopefully it will inspire you to make decisions towards a happier and simpler life that allows you to do more of things you love. Happy Travels!!
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Excellent tips! It really is about priorities. As I have grown, I much rather prefer experiences and making memories over having stuff. Student loans are still a burden and we balance paying extra on those and saving for travel so we don’t go crazy. These are great reminders of what is and is not important and how to manage it all!
Thank you. There really isn’t a one size fits all. We all have our bills, burdens, obstacles etc. But once you start prioritizing what is important to you, you will start to see the difference. I am all about experiences and having the time to enjoy left. The older I get the less stuff I want. Haha.
Suzanne Fluhr says
My parents taught me well. On a public school art teacher’s salary, my parents found ways to give us experiences more wealthy families had. Expensive art and music summer camp–we went because my parents worked there; lived in Mexico for a year on $3,000 when Dad took a sabbatical in 1963-4; lived in England for a year when he was an exchange teacher; camped around Europe for 7 weeks after our school year in England. My sisters and I had one pair of shoes per year–because our feet were still growing. Birthday presents might be socks and a book, but you need an oboe because your school won’t let you take your borrowed one to England for a year—-no problem. My father took me to London and spent a month’s salary on an oboe—which helped me be accepted at a good college with a scholarship. In order to rebel against my parents (as we all do at some point or other), I had to go to law school and marry a doctor. 😉 But, old habits survive. We live well below our means and value experiences over stuff.
That is amazing. We live in a time where people are more concerned about “keeping up”. But “keeping up” is not long term. I want to experience life. Not “keep up”. Keep living your best life. This is fantastic.
Kimberly Cross says
Yes yes yes! In order to travel the world, you have to give up other things. As sexy or not as that sounds. Love this realistic article. You have to give up a lot, but if travel is worth it for you than you gain more in the end.
Yes. Exactly. For me it is well worth the sacrifice. But I like to be as transparent as I can about it because that may not be the case for others.