The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway. I’ve realized that money comes and goes, but the more I make, the harder it is to part with it and weirdly, the less I have, the easier it becomes to budget.
I don’t do that saving account, checking account, travel account thing either. I am not rational. I am extreme. I want to travel and so I do. There is no in between. While I was working my first career job in public relations, I realized early on that it was going to take me forever to save all the money I would need to see the world. I come from a middle class family, I’m the middle child of five and I live in one of the most expensive places in America – Long Island, New York. I don’t have rich family members or know people that know people and I certainly can’t rely on inheritance to someday boost my dreams. So I focused on what I did have – a roof over my head, and the attitude that I can and will do anything I want.
… And I want to live around the world.
REWIND TO THAT PLACE IN TIME
I’m working seven days a week and I can’t even afford my own place yet. Five days at the PR firm and Saturdays and Sundays bar tending. For what? So I can slave away my 20s. Work 7 days a week to buy clothes for work and a $400 monthly train pass to get to work. I was literally working to afford working. And don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved my job. I loved my clients, I loved my boss and I loved my interns. I was proud of where I was and where I was going, yet I still had something inside of me telling me that if I wanted to go all out for my career, I needed to give up that living around the world dream… and if I wanted to live somewhere else, I was going to need to give up my career.
And so the google search began. I have no money. But I want to travel for long periods of time. How do I do that?!
I’m going to need to work abroad.
Working while you travel is literally the smartest thing a person can do.
But you can’t do it forever. It’s only for the young. Sorry people. Not my rule. There are countries who will give you a year working visa but you have to be under 30. (Australia and New Zealand)
So with this information. It was now or never.
I mean, lets face it – If I moved into New York City when I was 24 years old, I’d be working to pay for my apartment. Once you leave the nest – rent till you die. Travel for me would not be likely for a very long time.
And even if I stayed home and kept working like I was – I wasn’t saving what I needed to get ahead. I was getting ahead in my career but financially, I was just getting by and some.
It was only when I thought about the life I was setting myself up for that I realized I was just fitting the mold, and the scariest part was that I liked it because I was used to it – it was the only life I had ever known.
If you tell people you work 7 days a week, they don’t see anything wrong with it. I didn’t. I was a champion. I was going places. If you tell them you work two jobs in one day, well then, you are a hard worker, a hustler, a person who is determined to succeed.
I hate that mindset now. Unless you know exactly what it is you are working for.
What’s up with our society that people are so proud to work so much just to get by? No. You are an adult. Working 40 hours should be enough to provide for your family and your home and everything you need. Especially if you are not working for your dreams. Working more should be an option. (You know for that iPad or pocketbook.) Not a must-do or you cant afford the rent. Or at least that’s how it should be. Kate for President, just saying.
Okay, but really – I understand that there are instances where you work a lot because you have a goal. Mine (at the time) was to afford an apartment in New York City so I could be closer to my job and break out of the nest. It was really exciting to think about – until I starting becoming excited thinking about where I would work on the weekends to afford this new life. Fall back. YOUR GOALS SHOULD NOT BE MATERIALISTIC. They should be focused on personal growth and just because your bank account is growing, it doesn’t mean you are. My mindset was all about money. Money for this, money for that. Bills, bills, bills, throw some money in the savings every month, go for drinks with friends, look for a husband – hey, everyone’s doing it – It’s called being responsible and having your head on straight. I can almost hear my parents sigh of relief when they thought I had lined myself up a successful future… but then I quit my career and crushed their dreams and I didn’t care because where was the room for my dreams? I had to break that mold.
Someone really tell me WHAT THE FUCK life is about? My generations economy sucks. Yet for some reason, everyone has nice things. A lot of us have two jobs, or are working overtime at our one job or even have three gigs going on – And if you don’t fill those categories – get off my page. (Just kidding, but really.)
SO I looked into it. PEOPLE DON’T HAVE MONEY FOR THE LIVES THEY ARE LIVING.
We finance almost everything. Your car, your house, your new big screen TV. OMG I am going to be poor for the rest of my life. But I won’t look poor. Because I’ll have credit cards.
Have you heard of 0% APR? Of course you have. Well it’s literally the only reason I can travel.
No I don’t have a rich family who funds my travels. Sorry to ruin your day.
When I moved to Australia on a Work and Holiday Visa I had $800 in my bank account. Crazy I know. I literally told my parents, ‘Okay I’m going to Australia. I only have $800 so if I don’t get a job in the first week, I’ll see you next Sunday.”
I was taking a risk I know. But what did I have to lose? Money? My whopping $800. Which is why having less money makes it easier to take chances. I was prepared and willing to fail for a dream I wasn’t sure would work. But lets be honest, I was NOT going to lose. I was on a goddamn mission and I don’t understand the word “no”.
UNITED MILEAGE PLUS EXPLORER CARD – They gave me 50,000 miles for signing up and 5000 for adding someone to the account (which I did) and miles after spending $1000 in the first month (which I did because I put my plane flight on the card.)
This means, I basically racked up enough points (and by basically I mean, I had enough points) for a free flight home. I’m A GENIUS — And yes, I planned that out.
[NOTE: They have slightly changed the card. Look for deals and offers.]
CITI THANK YOU PREFERRED CARD – Boom! 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months and a fee of 3% of my transfer. (Which sucks but I needed to.)
ARE YOU FOLLOWING ME?
I transferred all of my credit card balances to the THANK YOU CARD and set up the minimum monthly payment to automatically come out of my checking account every month.
I also set up my student loan to automatically be deducted every month as well.
NO WORRIES MATE – remember, it’s just money. (And it’s for my dream – Not a sweater and shoes.)
FROM THERE… I put a weeks stay at World Square Hostel, in an 18 bed dorm room (the cheapest bed they had) on my credit card.
WHAT ABOUT FOOD?
PB and J my friends. Not even J, just PB and the cheapest loaf of bread I could find in Sydney (which was $1, SCORE).
AND REALLY THE REST IS HISTORY
I found a job within the first three days. Applied for a tax file number. Set up an Australian bank account and after my first Australian paycheck I never had to touch my American credit card ever again. I was making about $1000 a week in Australia and working 35 hours a week. My rent was $150 a week. Eventually I transferred some money over to my American account just to keep paying the minimum payment on my THANK YOU card. But that was the last I had to worry about my American bills. I ended up SAVING $10,000 in six months working in Australia. And I used that money to travel Australia with. Never having to touch an American dollar.
I used this same strategy when I moved to Thailand. Except I started with $2000 as my backup if I didn’t get a job. (But I did.)
I may just be a master budgeter but I’m pretty positive this tactic can work for anyone who is as ambitious and money savvy as me. Don’t just go get a credit card and put everything on there. And don’t spend more than you can make. The most I ever put on the card was $3000. The point is to use it as a little loan to help you pursue a dream you may not have the money for right now, while keeping some money in your bank account for emergencies.
Good luck and be smart. (but not too smart – leave some space for risks!)
OH! AND AS FOR MY DREAM – In case it’s unclear… I want to live and work around the world. I want to experience culture. I want to be a local. See what it’s like to be someone from somewhere else. It’s not just about money anymore. It’s about life and challenges and doing things I never thought were possible for me.
I don’t know why I was so lucky to have been born in America – to have all these opportunities – to not even be close to being the richest person in my town but to still have so frikken much. I don’t know why I got to be born here and not somewhere else, but I know I won’t take it for granted.
If you are in a country where you can read this – Please don’t take it for granted. xx
Next read: Australian Work and Holiday Visa: Do It Yourself Guide
Related: How to Make Over $18/hr Backpacking Australia
Im poor and come from a middle class area. I always wonder how you pepple afford to live the way you do. Its having a head start with credit. You guys get the credit you need. Like I was approved for a $900 credit card. Thats nothing to you guys. If I bought a plane ticket on that I wouldnt be able to get a transfer card. I have to buy everything out right. I bought a house and car outright and was broke for about 3 months. It was cheaper to buy then rent.
Having wrote that I did go on a package tour to europe. I had an emergency 3 months before the trip and only had about 300 euro. I was so happy to see burger king, I couldnt afford a real restaurant.
Reblogged this on gypsybl00d and commented:
Kate kicks ass.
Reblogged this on Maricel Mansano's Blog.
now you can travel and get paid! traveling need not be expensive especially if you work within the travel industry. check tinmarie.paycation.com and click on opportunity
I hope you don’t mind me asking but what were the two jobs you got in Austrailia and Thailand? Being an American how hard was it finding a job?
Havent read a comment about it yet, but its easy cause she also has no kids. Not saying that having children weigh one down, but as a parent we cant just up and leave like that constantly. Good luck to ya!
What jobs exactly did you apply for? How did you know which companies to apply to? It just seems a little bit rash to me, moving to another country and within 1 week, finding a good-paying job. Help me understand it.
Because if it was THAT easy getting up and moving, no one would be living in America.
Just wanted to say how crazy it is that I came across this! I literally just made the decision this week to leave the states after I finish university and to go find a job elsewhere. I’m currently handling my finances, so my savings aren’t high by any means, but I am so so stoked to see that it is possible. I was just going to wing it and hope to God I wouldn’t have to come home with my tail between my legs! Glad to see there are other women out there like me that want to spend their lives experiencing the world for all it has to offer! Thanks for sharing your insight! It’ll come in handy in a few months
Kids literally ruin everything. Lol
I know they are my fault, but my wanderlust is so strong I am miserable just staying still. I’ve got to figure out how to drag two 7 yr olds, a 2 yr old, and a husband around the world with me. Anyone need a kidney????
This sounds awesome, but how did you find a good paying job so quickly?
Therein lies the rub in this blog. Kate’s never provided any substance to back up her budget claims. And those of us who have some similar experience say it’s not practical. Possible, yes, but for the vast majority of humanity (including Americans, who this blog is targetted at) her numbers simply don’t add up, nor does the mythical job with the supposed salary she quotes exist for any but a small section of particularly skilled/talented people.
In other words, it’s pretty obvious this is an astroturf for credit card companies, not a real blog.
Reblogged this on God With3n and commented:
Thus sums up why I want to travel. But haven’t got bold enough to just up and go yet. Lol
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What job did you apply for? What is your career? Do you have to have a good career to do something like this or a college degree? How you go about all this. My daughter loves to travel and this would be right up her alley! How safe is this? Why Australia? I know this would be a dream of hers also! She is low key.
My email didn’t go in right. It’s email@example.com
i was hoping this would be an interesting savvy post about your travels and how it came to be. But oh man, your writing is horrendous. Please work on your sentence structure, grammar, and constantly repeating yourself. Maybe that’s why you didn’t make much in America.
Reblogged this on katelynbgriffith and commented:
This is my postgrad plan
“Just get credit cards!”
Ha! Sounds so easy. I have never been able to obtain a credit card. Not even one of those store credit card that supposedly anyone can get. I worked since I was 14 years old. Never made any more than 11.50 and hour though, but usually worked full time. Never had anyone to co sign anything for for me to help me get started in the credit world. No car payments. All my cars were bought cheaply with cash as that was my only option. Have applied for credit cards a number of times and always turned down.
Not so easy for everyone.
Reblogged this on Underneath the Sunflower.
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Kate, I have always wanted to travel and see the world and always thought to myself or was always told growing up…If you want nice things or to travel you need to go to college and get a good education so you can pay for that! Well at the time it made sense I was a child and thats what everyone else did. Now being an adult and working two jobs just to make bill payments I now see that yes, sure go to college and get an education (that I dont have money for) but you start to see it’s not true.
When did we think after college we would have the time to travel and see the world like we wanted to when we were younger? We would start our career right away and start paying back those student loans! But I have always wondered how people like me (a college student that has nothing but a few hundred dollars in there bank account) got to travel and do all the amazing things I have wanted to do for so long!
All I want to say is thank you!
for the people calling BS on her blog here… well, you can watch a video about her experiences teaching kids in thailand, which is what she did there :P
I dont think this blog is that fake :P
Maybe that video is genuine. Of course, it’s not hard to fake that kind of thing trivially (any decent commercial looks like that). Even if it is genuine, it’s more than possible (I’d say even likely) that Kate is a paid spokesperson – the companies went out and found someone that fit their “blogger” profile, then paid her to endorse/promote their product. While claiming to be just some ordinary person. That’s astroturfing.
Her financial claims certainly don’t pass a basic “sniff” test.
I’ve been reading a lot o bout stories how to travel for free or how to travel with a little budge and I have to admit that some of the stuff I read is possible to do it. I love traveling too and after I’ve read a lot stories of people traveling I realized that I had travel more that most of this people, the funny thing is I’m an immigrant from south America living in New York, most of the people here in America can’t explain how I travel a lot and they dont. I have some strategies to make it happen but I’m very realistic about facts, I know credit cards help a lot, but something in common with articles about traveling with low budget is that everyone talks about the credit card with miles, I don’t want to think this is just advertising the credit cards, I ve travel to 46 countries so far and I’m planning my next trip soon and I don’t have credit cards with miles because they are really hard to get You must have an excellent credit score which most of us don’t have. If You want to see some pics of my traveling follow me on Instagram I just open an account so I’ll do it so I can share my passion firstname.lastname@example.org
Reblogged this on megandejan.
I am Australian and it would be very unusual for a professional position to be offered for 35 hours a week. I don’t know of any positions like that unless it is a mum returning to work who has negotiated that for herself to come back to work. Also, for high paying jobs, and a $1000 a week job is a professional job, the application process is normally long and has several steps: resume screening, phone interview, then perhaps a skype interview, then perhaps a group interview, then face to face interview and the process can take about two months all up until you are in the job, perhaps longer to wait for your first pay check. Jobs you CAN get in a week are hospitality or fruit picking, low paid casual jobs where you are not paid for holiday pay, etc and is not permanent. You pretty much just turn up, do a trial shift and if you look the part and did a good job you are hired. There is often no guarantee of how many hours you will get a week. One week could be heaps and the next 8, so very difficult to balance out your income or make up any deficit quickly with another job. Rent is very expensive in Australia. It is possible if you share with a number of people you could pay $150 a week in rent though if you don’t mind having a lot of flatmates. One crucial thing not spoken about here is travel insurance. If anything happens (and if anything IS going to happen it will be when you are in unfamiliar circumstances) you need to be covered. Medicare will not cover you and the expenses could be huge, so for the love of God, make sIure you have travel insurance and that it has unlimited medical. I am all for people living the dream, but this article makes it sound a lot easier than it probably would be. If you are young, good looking and well presented and hard working then yes you will get work in hospitality, but otherwise it is going to be a much harder slog, particularly if you are not having the US dollar backing you because you don’t have it. Happy and safe travels but think and be prepared before you leap!
It was hospo that I was working in… And since I was in a touristy area we were taking home tips as well.. That’s how it all adds up :)
Kate, nice blog. Like you say, there are always ways to make travel happen. I am not rich, but I have been able to travel to all seven continents (yes, Antarctica included) by renting in an affordable area and cutting out unnecessary expenses like cable and other luxuries. It has given me the flexibility to fuel my wanderlust. Keep on traveling!
the interesting thing re tips is in Australia we don’t declare tips to the tax department. Tips in Oz don’t work like tips in the US. TIps in the US are supposed to go to pay the workers wage, where as here we pay a wage without expectation of tips, so Kate would not have had to declare that or pay tax on that. Also our service is very different to the US, we are pretty shocking when it comes to that for some reason! So I don’t doubt Kate did pick up some good tips. :)
How on earth do you find a job that pays a THOUSAND dollars a WEEK, within the first week of arriving? $1000 a week seems like an insane amount to me, I work two jobs full time and don’t make anywhere near that. And it’s not a dead end job either. Christ, if I made $1000 a week I would be happy to just go on holidays. Every. Month.
Call BS on that… 52k a year after three days in Australia? And to get the United card you would need excellent credit which you wouldn’t have at a young age, you have 0 credit history.
Yes ! Thank you Mel!
Reblogged this on Victoria Vlisides and commented:
Yes yes yes yes yes !!!!
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Hi, kate! First off, I think you are absolutely awesome for gearing away from what was expected and creating your own life with adventure! That is absolutely inspirational to someone like me who would do anything to leave and find a job elsewhere upon graduation! I read your comments here and saw that you worked in hospitality, which is also completely awesome. Im getting a degree in hospitality management as well as a minor in human resources and will be graduating in August! Being able to get out and be successful while doing something I am passionate about is my dream, and I would love it if you had time if you could reach out and educate me a little on how I can make that dream a lifestyle, like you did. Thank you so much.
Reblogged this on I SOUND MY BARBARIC YAWP and commented:
Now THIS is awesome!
Loved the article! Did you need a work visa for Thailand? I have my year work visa for Australia, which I hope to use soon. I also thought about trekking to Thailand after but wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find a job…
Just wanted to let you know that I think what you did was awesome. Very ballsy move, but it obviously paid off in the long run. I’m also a middle-class, student loan constricted American, on the wrong side of 20, that wishes to travel around the world and experience a variety of cultures and experiences. Your article was very helpful and inspiring.
Hey Kate! Great article :) I 100% agree about going while you can. I’m from Texas and right now I’m living in Paris soaking up the French culture. My friends back home tell me I’m not “living up to my potential” because I’m not using my college degree/ I’m just a nanny… but I wouldn’t trade this experience for the WORLD. I hope more of our generation realizes that our lives are worth more than just the stuff that we buy. -Brooke
@-Steven .. I moved to Australia on a whim in a very simlilar fashion as our gal Kate here. I do not have a degree. I have a bit of a sales background and was able to very quickly sort out a job in an entery lever possition making 800AUS weekly.. So with that said it absolutley can be done. Keep in mind their minimum wage is much higher.
@-Jackie .. I am having a hard time finding the words to describe how your post made me feel. Either way I want to take the time to appoligise on behalf of my fellow human beings for not meeting your standards of written communications. I am aware that this is your world and we are just living in it. So again truly very sorry we have yet to master grammer and what not … please forgive us.
P.S.if you have nothing nice to say, please just say nothing at all ..(you should live by theses very very basic words).
p.s.s. I am aware that my gammer is silly.
Great blog! This is exactly what I am doing now. To be fair my parents moved abroad when I was 18 and helped me to a starting point by letting me come stay with them rent free for a few months in Mexico. I also already owned a car which I bought with student loans and sold when I left the US for a little extra cushion as far as cash. I found a niche market and started my own US based business that I run 100% online and make American wages. It IS possible! Thanks for this write up. I posted it on my fb for all the people who constantly ask me how this can be done.
This isn’t to say there are no consequences. I have no home. I have no car. I have no assets at all. I don’t even have a permanent phone number or American health insurance. And yes, as many have pointed out, I have no kids, no dog, and not even a boyfriend. Just last week I had to miss the funeral of my best friend who died unexpectedly because there was no way for me to get there. I miss my family every day. So sometimes it can be a struggle. BUT if you can handle all of these things, the experience can be so worth it!! Happy travels!
I love how the rebuttal to the commenters pointing out any of the lucky breaks and hidden truths have the “Anyone can do this, I did this, you’re just scared or jealous” tone. Reality is, she, and anyone that has claimed to have done the same is incredibly LUCKY to have things work the way they did. By the way it sounds, she was at some point, one unfortunate circumstance from complete financial destitution. That’s a foolish risk most people don’t take. What doesn’t get glorified in fluffy blog stories are the thousands upon thousands of people that take these kinds of travel risks and it doesn’t work out. It also helps to be white, thin and pretty.
You write as if this is the most unique crazy thing in the world to do. I get that backpacking might be new to you but from where I am from (Australia) this is what about 1/3 of us do in our early 20s.
Yes I know! But it’s not that way in the states sadly. We have very different mindsets but I’m hoping to change that even just the smallest bit :)
Oh wow!!! You know young adults other parts of the world have been doing this before we Americans have. They see the American dream but I want to see what their countries are like. One factor I like is in some countries I would have more. I’m all about making money. Currently I have the anchor of bills around my ankles. Quick question I want to travel but my hearts stuck on someone and I’ve been a gypsy for awhile from Hawaii here in north Carolina all because of love and I broke my golden rule. But my dream is traveling experience culture the people food scenic routes. I’m only 24. Been in the navy traveled the us well half but I would like to die from. Without the kungfu grip of USA LOL don’t get me wrong I love the u.s but there’s more out there that us is keeping under wraps.
“But you can’t do it forever. It’s only for the young. Sorry people. Not my rule. ”
Yes, that is your rule. One I’ve managed to break, as I’ve been working in Tokyo for 2 years. And I’m 50. I’ve managed to spend large portions of my life working abroad because I cultivated a specialized skill that is in demand in many countries.
Without a long-term strategy, you’ll remain a low-wage slave no matter what country you live in.
I’m just taking about the working holiday visas – if people want to take advantage of them – they need to do it before they are 30. So it’s not my rule. But that’s awesome that you’ve been able to use your career to travel – good on ya :)
I absolutely love everything you have written. All so true, whats the point of working for money for it to waste away, when you should use it to fuel your dreams and see everything that is open around you!
Just commenting to say that on a smaller scale I do the same exact thing. Have planned for Thailand first, but I’ve made my way around the U.S. All my favorite cities one at a time. For the people saying that funds don’t add up, and that this isn’t possible, you are very very wrong, and just too naive about life to even understand. You would understand if you had any similiar life experiences, but most people in the whole world will never be able to say that. I get up and move whenever I want, when you figure out the types of jobs that you can walk in, work for a week, and leave, then maybe show up a year later and do the same, then you are set. I am not some dumb gypsy, I got my nursing degree when I was 18, proceeded to get my real estate and travel agent liscense , and worked in health care for 5 years, 90+ hours a week, and that’s when I had a cheap apartment , hating life . I quit nursing , and go to cities that have local work such as promo work. Promoting any kind of thing such as a product , bar, club, iPhone app, etc. I’ve worked 4 promo jobs at a time , just walking down the beach in a day and will make about $500-1000 per day. I also work in car sales, bartend, currently manage a night club and people aroud the country would never expect these jobs to make as much as they do. Living in Detroit bartending and promoting would literally make me $50 a day MAYBE, in Florida or New Orleans, you ought to be making $200 on slow days, and $500+ on events like Mardi Gras or spring break. Now, my bills are outrageous so its not like I’m rolling in money, but that’s just how I chose to live while I’m here. Unless you work in the industries that would get what I’m saying, trust me you will never understand and just don’t waste more anyone’s time preaching how ignorant you are to the real world. I can live in Thailand for one year with less than $20,000 American money. I know, because I have hundreds of friends there along with many other countries with similar situations . You find work that works for you. I don’t use any kind of deals I just work and pay for whatever it is, no secret or specific thing that allows me to. Although I’m going to look into those things she mentions in this article.. I don’t know why I really wasted my time writing this , mostly just for the ignorant idiots who sit around and post the negative BS on these articles. Go ahead and sit there and tell me that this isn’t possible . Go research whatever the hell you want and write me 500 essays about how it’s not possible and how you don’t agree with it. Cool. . I’ll be busy living and shit, not worrying about you or your research at all. Lol