“It must be nice to be able to travel so much.”
Yes it is.
I usually get at least one passive aggressive message when I post a travel picture. I get it. You see that your friend’s on a trip while you’re working. It’s tempting to write something. I want to show you the exact formula for figuring out how to travel more often so that you’re not relegated to being awkward on social media. I’m pretty sure that you would much rather be the person on the trip and not the person leaving an awkward comment on Instagram.
“How you can afford to travel so much?”
If you’ve ever asked me or any of your friends this question on social media, then this article’s for you. I’m not rich and I’m not spoiled. I got hooked on traveling when I was 18 years old.
I asked an older friend that very question about how he could afford to travel back in 2006. He was nice enough to break down the formula for me (saving $50/week adds up fast and is enough to travel annually). When I figured out that saving up over time could let me travel more I became hooked.
I’ll just briefly rant on two things:
- Traveling isn’t some ridiculous fantasy. You don’t have to be rich to travel. Times have changed. I meet more regular folks on trips than I do rich people. You don’t need to have millions of dollars to be able to see the world. Most of the time you need a little bit of dedication and a sense of adventure.
- You have to put your money where your mouth is. It’s fun to talk about how you want to travel and do more cool things. You have to actually put the work in, you have to be willing to say no to partying every single weekend when you’re at home, you have to cut back on the useless stuff, and you have to find ways to make more money. Most people would just rather watch motivational videos or play video games. There’s nothing wrong with either. Just don’t be surprised when you can’t afford to do anything fun.
Check out the newest episode of Studenomics TV on how you can travel even if it feels like you can’t afford it right now that was taped in Australia.
Here’s exactly how you can travel…
[See how Donovan quit his job to backpack through Europe.]
Step 1: Make travel a priority.
Personal finance is all about saving up so that you can have whatever you want. You can have anything. You just can’t have everything.
Are you okay with that?
I’m not here to lecture you. I’m just giving you a harsh dose of reality.
I want you to know that if you want to travel, you’re going to have to say no to lots of other stuff (drinking every Friday, new rims, new wardrobe, etc.).
I want to travel many times per year. I don’t really like to go away for long. I enjoy my training (BJJ, pro wrestling, weights) and I really dig Toronto. I prefer quick getaways. My goal is to go on 4-5 trips per year. In 2017 I went to Colombia, Bermuda, NYC, Dallas, and The Bahamas. I’m not sure what the rest of 2018 has in store after Thailand, Australia, and Hawaii.
In between trips I like to focus on my training and getting things done (writing articles, looking for new investments, and so on).
I get that I’m a bit weird. It’s okay if you’re not willing to do this. This is what works for me. I can eat the same boring salmon every day of the week because I know that saving money gets me closer to my next adventure.
If you really want to travel and see the world then you have to act like it. Your friends will still be in line at that same club when you return from Argentina.
Step 2: Figure out when you’re going to go.
When can you travel? Is there a best time of the year for you?
I usually don’t do much traveling in the summer because I save my travels for the cold months since I hate winter (even though I’m Canadian). Toronto is also pretty fun in the summer.
There are a few questions that you have to answer here:
- When can you travel?
- What’s your vacation situation like at work?
- Do you have a long weekend coming up?
- Does your schedule give you any free time?
- Are you planning on quitting your job to find yourself?
You don’t have to travel for three months to have a memorable trip. You’d be surprised by how much fun an extended weekend trip can be.
When I went to visit my buddy Viren in Bermuda, four days was the perfect time. It’s a small island and it’s expensive. My bank account would’ve hated me if the trip went a week or longer.
When can you travel? When do you want to leave?
Step 3: Decide on where you want to go.
What do you want to do? What’s your ideal trip? Where do you really want to go?
There are many excuses to travel:
- Attend a business-related event.
- Party with the buddies for a weekend (the best!).
- Go somewhere to relax.
- Visit a friend or family member somewhere.
- Attend the destination wedding.
- Sporting event. I’ve gone to see UFC and wrestling shows in some cool places.
- To explore.
- To work and make some money.
- To get lost.
- To chase love. I met a guy in Brisbane, Australia who moved there to chase love. When he got there his ex-girlfriend was pregnant with her new boyfriend.
There are plenty of ways to find an excuse to travel. You don’t have to go to “find yourself.” You don’t have to live in Thailand for a year nor do you need to party in Europe to have a great trip. We all have different motivations to travel. My trips all vary. Last summer I went to NYC just because I wanted to experience the 4th of July in America.
The point here is simple: Find a reason to visit somewhere. I try to take any excuse to visit a new place.
Step 4: Always be searching for deals and ideas.
There are all kinds of sites with deals and promotional offers. In Toronto there’s YYZDeals. Every city has some sort of a deals page.
Stay on the hunt for deals and ideas. You never know when the tourism board will offer discounted flights to attract tourists to some place you’ve been dreaming of visiting. I found a flight from Melbourne to Honolulu for $300 (Canadian). I won’t mention the fact that they charged $10 to watch a movie or that I couldn’t get a blanket.
There are all sorts of articles out there on finding travel deals. You should do your best to try to use your credit card points and to be on the hunt for special offers. I don’t want to get into that here as it’s a topic that warrants an entire book.
My best advice for finding deals is to just keep on looking around.
- Check Google flights.
- Look into discount packages.
- Ask for prices on forums so that you know you’re not getting ripped off.
- Keep on checking until you find a price that you’re comfortable with.
Every destination is different when it comes to finding the best deal. For example, when I went to The Bahamas last year, I looked around until I found the cheapest all-inclusive package available on my free weekend. I was flexible and just wanted to explore a new place for a long weekend. In Thailand on the other hand, you might be better off walking around and bartering in person. I had a pretty sweet spot one night on the Phi Phi Islands. That’s another story for a different type of blog.
Step 5: Be comfortable with traveling alone.
Are you okay with going alone?
If you can travel solo, the whole world will open up to you because you won’t have any limits. I believe that everyone should travel solo at some point in life.
Why should you travel alone?
- This will force you to step up your social skills. Trust me, I was a different person in 2011 when I went to Europe alone. Now I actually enjoy making small talk. Back then, I was nervous as hell.
- You can do whatever you want.
- You don’t have to wait for anyone’s permission.
- You’re more flexible.
- It’s okay to be weird.
My first solo trip happened in 2011. I tried organizing some friends for the longest time. Then it finally got to the point where I thought that my Euro trip would never happen. I eventually decided to go alone. This was a great decision. My parents were furious with me. They couldn’t believe that I was going solo. When I returned, they were so proud of me for pulling off this trip. My two brothers then both ended up traveling alone until they eventually ended up living in Australia.
I understand that traveling alone isn’t for everyone. I just want you to keep an open mind to this idea because you never know when you’ll find a ridiculous last-minute deal on your weekend off.
Step 6: Cut out everything that doesn’t matter.
We all spend money on things that we don’t need. That’s a fact. We’re all hypocrites about this stuff for some reason.
Show me your spending and I’ll tell you about your priorities. Most people say that they want to travel and then they blow their money on something they don’t care about.
I promise you that traveling more often is a very realistic goal. Every single person reading this can afford to go on a trip in the next year.
I don’t want to rant about this. Just cut the crap out of your spending.
Step 7: Keep on saving.
Let’s say you calculate the cost of your dream trip to learn salsa in Colombia (I failed at this big time) for three weeks:
- It works out that the flight will be about $1,000.
- The accommodations another $1,000.
- You’re going to need $1,000 in spending money (these are all absurd numbers by the way, you can find amazing deals in many parts of the world).
$3,000 will seem like an impossible amount of money. You may not even have $300 or $30 at the moment. The thing is that you’re not paying for this trip in this moment. You have time to save up.
You would have to put $57.69 away on a weekly basis to go one year from now.
What if you want to go in six months?
Then you would have to put away $500/month.
Just keep on breaking down the numbers until you see how you can make the trip happen. Then find a way to get there. You could try to make more money, focus on your savings, or combine both.
Step 8: Always try to make more money.
More money = more options.
There’s only so much that you can do with a limited bank account. You can’t have million dollar dreams with a minimum wage work ethic.
Get your money together! If you want motivation to save money then just look at cool travel pictures on social media. Start with my Instagram account.
Here are a few articles to help you get going:
- Feeling lost? Investing for beginners.
- The Cancun Technique for saving money.
- Five freelancers that are making money.
- See how Theo started his own freelancing company.
- Your quick start guide to making more money.
- How to start an online business.
Step 9: Book a flight and go. Don’t think about it.
Stop stressing about everything. Just go and see what the world has to offer.
(Note: you don’t have to jump out of a plane)
I have friends who read every single review before they go somewhere. Just go. Read a few reviews, plan out the basics, and let the experience find you.
Don’t feel too bad if you don’t fall in love with every place that you visit. You never know how much you’re going to like a destination until you get there. Even if the location isn’t perfect, don’t whine about it! Enjoy the damn trip. Who cares if the tiles aren’t aligned perfectly? So what if one server wasn’t too friendly? Does any of this stuff really matter? When I travel, nothing can get in my way of fun.
These are just 9 random steps in no particular order. You can apply only one of these steps (make more money) and still make your trip happen. I just wanted to give you all of the tools to make that trip happen.
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck