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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.


Standing on top of Africa’s Mt Kilimanjaro. You 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 was going to see the world even if it killed me!

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!!


Catching sleep on an overnight shift at McDonalds. Drive Thru only after 11pm, and the noise from the headset was enough to wake me up and alert me that a car was ready to order!

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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  1. you are crazy lol, but i do get your point. you must really love to travel

    • I absolutely live by it! Couldn’t imagine a life without it :) … and I agree with you on crazy lol but otherwise life gets boring :D

  2. The 48 hour straight wow! What an experiment, props to you and I would try to do it let alone most likley nap every few hours! You truelly love travel opportunities and it’s worth losing sleep for it!

    • Thanks Angelica! You’ve got that right – definitely worth loosing sleep over – can catch up on sleep during long haul flights :D

  3. As a three-time cancer survivor, I would preach to others to never risk their health for travel; but I understand going to extremes. I cannot live without travel either. It is my home.

    • Sorry to hear that you’ve been through so much with your health. Congratulations on having come out the other side though!! Totally agree with you; travel is my home also. Love makes us do some crazy things!!

  4. Most of my friends, even the close ones, don’t understand why I go to the lengths I do to travel. As a sound technician for concerts and other entertainment events, my day is usually 16 to 18 hours anyway. But I will sometimes work 14 days straight just so I can have enough to go to the places I want (or should I say need) to go. So I understand where you are coming from. BTW – I’m waiting for that lottery win also.

    • Amen to that! I’ll make you a deal – if I win I’ll send you a percentage and vice versa; one of us has to win right!! :D

  5. #salute! Way to be a trooper! Love the skydiving pic, I’m still trying to build up the nerve for it.

    • Thanks! I forced myself not to think about it lol I paid for it the day before so that I wouldn’t chicken out and have wasted all of that money :P

  6. I remember working hard in college. I did not have two jobs, but I worked roughly 40 hours a week plus a full class load. I could have worked more. My grades did suffer a little, but I made traveling possible with small trips and a few larger ones. Travel is definitely a lifestyle that so many people do not get until you start doing it. Good for you!!!

    • Thats a pretty impressive workload though – a lot more than the average college student! :) My grades could have been better as well but in the end I view it as having gained a much better education having traveled and experienced the world :D

  7. Hiya megan. I really enjoyed this post and can sympathise whole heartedly with you. I was at uni and working my ass off aslo to travel the world. Im sure you wouldn’t have it any other way. I know I wouldnt. X

    • You’re spot on – I wouldn’t have it any other way! Traveling is such a worthwhile experience and just such a blast that I would do it all over again and probably try for 5x more lol!

      Thanks for your comment – glad to meet someone just as motivated and insane as me :D! Happy travels during 2014 :)

  8. Megan, we are definitely kindred spirits and some have suggested that I am nuts too – either for working too hard or spending too much money on travel. I totally understand what drives you and I think you are impressive! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Now, I did not get to travel when I was young and I was very jealous of anyone who did, for a long time. I stopped being jealous when I started to travel with my husband and kids at the age of 45 and I haven’t been jealous since!

    • Thankyou Kerry! Glad it’s not just me that’s overly ambitious for life!!!

      Even though I started traveling at a young age – 18 – I’m also sometimes jealous of those who started earlier; if I could change one thing in life it would be to have gone on a student exchange in high school. As you said though, you stop being jealous and learn to enjoy the moment!!

      Happy travels!

  9. I read blogs like yours and per usual, the whole story of how one can afford to travel full-time is not fully told.

    1. You took a gap year which is well- accepted in Ozzie and European cultures and not in American culture. You mention you had a TA position which a) doesn’t pay jack and b) is easier for you to attain as an Ozzie versus an American. So your parents or trust fund or whatever must have supported your lavish 14 or 17 or whatever week travel time around an expensive continent. As someone who studied abroad in Prague and did travel every weekend elsewhere, even we didn’t get that vacation time.

    2. You seem to not have student loans like more than half of Americans (myself included). Thus traveling extensively is inevitably easier for you.

    3. Let’s be serious, just a blog to support full-time travel for two people, to cover ALL transportation, food, accommodation, visas, incidental expenses, etc etc for multiple years? It doesn’t add up.

    4. It doesn’t seem neither you nor your husband are thinking long- term when it comes to healthcare expenses such as when you get older. Maybe as an Ozzie or European everything is grand with government-provided healthcare but that’s not the case with us Americans.

    5. If you don’t have living parents/grandparents, you’re not close to them or they are healthy, then you have a hella lot more money to go toward your own travel.

    As someone who lives and breathes travel, but also is cognizant of limiting factors like I mentioned above, it is annoying to read posts such as yours that really gloss over the inherent roadblocks. The idea of “of course you can travel anywhere, just work hard” is such a delusion.

    • Hi Jennifer. Once again, thanks for your comment. As I mentioned at the top of my article, I didn’t aim to cover every possible roadblock one may hit in affording travel – this is simply the story of how I did it, meant to inspire people who wish to do the same.

      1. You’re correct – the TA position didn’t pay jack – we had all of our food and board covered by the UK school, so everything we did earn we saved for our vacation time. I also worked nonstop throughout my last year of high school and sacrificed to save enough to get me through the year. I worked for everything I have in life, and would describe our travels back then as budget – not lavish. Though it would be nice to have a trust fund.

      2. The system of student loans is very different in Australia to America. We begin to pay off our student loans once we achieve a certain salary. Once again, this is my personal story.

      3. Yes, our blog is currently providing an income. You don’t need a lot of money if you’re traveling frugally and taking advantage of deals, sales & points etc. I recently published a post on how to make money through creating a blog.

      4. We have worked hard to establish a savings for when we decide to settle down.

      5. Once again, it’s very easy these days to travel on a budget. I have a number of posts across the website which offer advice on free accommodation options, travel hacking, traveling on points etc. You don’t need a hell of a lot of money to travel.

      The message of this piece was not “just work hard” – it was “pursue your dreams and make them happen”.

      Thanks for visiting.

    • Thanks for your response. Again there are holes but if you wish to keep things personal, that’s understandable. I can definitely understand frugal travel- hell my friends consider me the expert! Still, to say one does not need a lot of money is a fallacy, plain and simple. I have an eagle eye for sales and deals, and use my airline credit miles whenever I can but flights are hundreds of dollars from the US, period.

      Making dreams happen is just not possible for many unless your are fortuitous.

      That being said, happy traveling and best of luck.

  10. Wow, that is an incredible story! I’m so happy that all your hard work has paid off and you get to live the life you want.

    • Thanks Estrella! While hard at the time it’s all been worth it looking back now!

      Safe travels!

  11. Funny thing is Megan…It’s like you already HAVE WON the Lottery…to have so much passion, FUN and DRIVE for Life is something money cannot buy–But Im Certain you will WIN the Lottery ….Just Wait …Answer is always inside. HAVE FUN !

    • Thankyou Dan! Traveling is what makes me truly happy, and I wouldn’t trade that for any sum of money…even the lottery! – though it would be nice :D!

  12. As we say here in England, it sounds like you have worked your little socks off!! Seems like your incredible travel experiences are well deserved given how much you’ve put in to get there :)

    • Something like that :D! Thanks Shikha … have definitely made sure I have done everything in my power to make it happen – I don’t like waiting around wishing for things to happen lol gotta make them happen in this world!!

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    • Thanks Johna. Have a great weekend!

  14. I am certainly not going to complain about my work/university balance again! You are such a hard worker, I wish I had that drive, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I get so tired from uni 25 hours per week + just 20 hours work per week.

    How many hours were you in university for per day?

    • Thanks Lina :) I think it has to be a case of your body gets used to it after a while and starts to think it’s normal. Now after 2 years out of uni and my crazy work schedule, I get so tired when I try to pull double shifts again!!

      I was lucky in that I managed to do a few units online – theoretically (if we didn’t skip) we should have been there for 12 hours each week. Some semesters I would set up all of my classes to be on one day, so I would only have to go once a week but for 8 hours. Some semesters I would schedule my classes to be overnight like at 8pm, and others I would put maybe an hour in the middle of every day for 5 days.

      Generally though I tried to schedule everything on the one day so I didn’t have to go in more than once :) Some lectures recorded their lectures each week and would post for us online so it was fairly easy to skip and catch up whenever it was most convenient. Australian system of university is fairly flexible.

  15. Finally- someone I can relate to :-P. I’m studying law full time at the moment while also working a crazy schedule to save money for travel. Lucky for me I picked up a weekend job with awesome pay so I work about 30 hours a week at the moment which is manageable. But sometimes I pick up extra tutoring work and debating training work which bumps it up to 40-45! I’m averaging a HD at the moment simply because I finish work at 6.30pm and then head straight to the library and stay until midnight most nights. It would probably be a tad bit easier if I was a bad student! haha

    I figure it will all be worth it when I can have a 15 month holiday!

    • Congrats on your mad determination to make everything work! I wasn’t quite averaging a HD in law doing all that work at the same time lol so I give you full credit for pulling that off!

      Truly anything is manageable and achievable if you want it hard enough – you just need to sit down and figure out what it will take to make it all work, and then implement the work!

      Keep up the good work – that 15 month holiday will arrive sooner than you realize, and trust me when I say it’s worth every single bit!

  16. Your crazy sleeping on the job at McD’s! Love it

    • Lol you could get away with it to because the store was closed except for Drive Thru and I was the manager on duty at the time hehe!

  17. I thought that we are the only crazy people who are working 18hours a day for our dream. Thanks megan, i feel a bit more normal now.

    • Lol nope there’s a whole group of us out there :D We should start a club! Glad to hear you can relate Lisa – I promise it all pays off and every single one of those overtime hours and the overtired days is worth it in the end!

      Wishing you the best :)

  18. Must be hectic with so little sleep. But I m sure it must be so satisfying and exciting.

    • It was … I think I’m still catching up on sleep from 5 years ago now lol. But it was absolutely worthwhile for the experiences it enabled, and if I had to do it all again I would do it exactly the same :)

  19. youre awesome!!!

    • Thankyou Julia! That’s very kind :) Happy travels!

  20. It’s all about priorities! And if travel is your priority you make it happen no matter what!
    Kudos to you for running jobs back to back like that – I can totally understand taking a nap during your shirt at Maccas! I have done something similar myself – but definitely not to your standards!

    • Absolutely Vicki – a lot of the time it all comes down to whether you want something badly enough :)

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