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