How I Afford To Travel
I grew up being told that you can achieve anything you want if you’re willing to work hard enough to get it. And while it may sound like cliche advice, it’s the best advice I was ever given. You CAN achieve anything you want, so long as you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want, achieve anything you want, and even travel the world indefinitely…if you want!!
I am constantly asked how I can possibly fit in all of the travel I do, and how I can possibly afford it all. I’m not rich, I’ve never won the lottery, and I don’t have a trust fund. Yet over the last 6 years I have crossed 32 countries off my bucket list, and have lived my dream of experiencing the world. While I’m not rich, I am incredibly motivated. This blog post is not so much filled with the best tips for funding your travels (I’ll go through that in another post), but rather a personal story of how I did it. I will admit that my saving techniques were quite extreme, however I hope it proves the point that you really can achieve anything you want in life.
Before I started traveling I was incredibly jealous of all those lucky enough to be traveling the world, until I made it happen for myself, and realized luck has nothing to do with it. I started traveling straight out of High School. I finished year 12 and lined up a Gap Year working as a teacher’s assistant in a boarding school in the UK. With 17 weeks holiday it was the perfect opportunity to see all of Europe!
After my year was over I wasn’t happy accepting that “reality” meant I couldn’t travel any more. I worked incredibly hard to make my dream of seeing the world MY reality. I did the “normal” thing to do and started University after my year away; however I probably ended up spending 5 months out of every year for that five year period overseas!
I realized pretty quickly that one job just wasn’t covering my travel expenses. So I got another. Before I knew it, I was working two full time jobs while also studying full time. This meant that during University semesters I was working 16-20 hour days. I would wake up at 5am for a 6am shift managing at McDonalds, head to Uni for 2 hours in the middle of the day, and then start an 8 hour shift working hotel reception at 3pm. I would stop for an hour on my way home to catch up with friends who were out, and then spend an hour on the phone to my partner Mike to keep our long distance relationship alive. If I didn’t need to catch up on study I would fall asleep around 1am and wake up again at 5am to repeat the whole process again!
Passing on an opportunity to travel wasn’t an option. Working harder was.
Sound hectic? It was, but once your body gets into a certain routine you start thinking it’s normal! I completed my study and assessment pieces for school on overnight shifts and somehow managed to maintain a Credit average with occasional Distinctions. I caught sleep wherever I could, napping on my half hour lunch breaks at work, and traveling with a pillow in my car! I wasn’t going to waste time which could be used to catch up on sleep if I had an hour to kill in-between University and work. I figure all of the great leaders in the world operate on 3-4 hours of sleep, mine just weren’t consecutive!!
At the same time, I was an active member of Scouts Australia, volunteering at the Aboriginal Legal Service Canberra to get experience which would put me ahead in a future legal career, working occasional promotional gigs, acting as a student exchange ambassador at my Uni (which paid), and snapping up paid modelling shoots when I could!
The most I have ever worked in one week was 110 odd hours, and I would not recommend it to anyone! It was the week before I was leaving for 3 months of straight travel, and I had 7 days straight of 6am-2pm at McDonalds, and 3pm-11pm at the Hotel. The overnight shift at the hotel called in sick however on that Tuesday, so I stayed and covered his shift until 5am Wednesday morning, where I went straight to McDonalds at 6am, and came back to the hotel at 3. I worked 48 hours straight, and although it was a $3,000 week, I wouldn’t do it again as I nearly died!! It was an interesting psych experiment if anything – the sleep deprivation gave me some pretty severe mood swings! I went through being sleepy, to bitchy, to VERY angry, and when I arrived at the hotel on the second day I was scarily hyperactive and very “bouncy”! Needless to say I crashed pretty hard afterwards.
I completely understand that the vast majority of people think I’m nuts, and a work schedule like this isn’t practical for most! In fact I was consistently told I was nuts by concerned friends and family. If anything though, I hope it inspires just one person to make their dream a reality. Traveling is not hard – you just have to want to do it.
If you’re motivated enough nothing will stop you from achieving the lifestyle you dream of! That being said, I’m still expecting to one day win the lottery!!
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