This past year my husband and I finally purchased a home (as well as our first dog.) We knew that for the first time since we’d been married, we probably wouldn’t be able to travel anymore or at least not as often and definitely not to exotic foreign lands as we had done in the past. Needless to say this didn’t last very long. It took me about 2 months after moving into my new home that I knew less traveling was just not an option for me. My passion for travel, history and culture is too much of a priority in my life and defines so much of who I am as a person. I realized I could still travel, but I would have to work harder for it. I knew that if I wanted it bad enough, I could make it happen, although I knew it may take a longer time. I also knew in order to make it happen, we would have to do it cheap. We would stay in B&B’s and hostels if we had to. We wouldn’t buy tons of souvenirs or to eat at fancy restaurants.
So beginning in April of 2013, I started looking into every way possible on how to make extra money. I considered a part-time job in addition to my full-time job, but I knew with me and my husband’s conflicting work schedules, I would never see him or the dog. So I sought out things I could do on the side, here and there or on weekends. It’s actually kind of interesting, because throughout this process, I experienced many different things I’d never done before and other things I had always wanted to do. Not only was I making money, but I was having new, interesting experiences where I ended up helping the community and the environment.
First, I started donating plasma. For a while I was donating up to twice a week which is the most they allow you to do. This was definitely an experience to say the least. I learned about something I had never really thought twice about in my life. I still can’t believe there is such a large number of a people in desperate need for plasma that they actually pay people to donate it all day every day. I decided not only was it an out of the ordinary interesting life experience, but it was helping others in need and it paid me. It was a win, win, win situation.
Over the summer I ended up having a total of 5 yard sales; three at my house, one at my sisters and one at my mother-in-laws.
I spent hours searching thrift stores and other yard sales to make crafts and fix up old antique frames and furniture to sell in our local farmers market which is something I’d always wanted to participate in any way. I learned how to upholster chairs. I painted, mod podged and fixed up any scrap of wood I could find turning it into something; shelves, coat hangers, etc.
Any extra money I got for an incentive at work or for holiday/birthday went in my travel fund. If I had a spare dollar in my wallet or someone paid me back for something, it went in the travel fund. I also budgeted a small portion out of my paycheck each month.
I started recycling for the first time in my life. All of my tin cans were saved and turned in every few months. Of course I didn’t get much for this, but even ten bucks every three months is more than I got for just throwing them away and I felt good knowing I was helping the environment.
By December 2013 I had earned enough money for my next ticket to Europe. My husband used money from his work bonus for his ticket and the rest is history.
The reason I wanted to write about this is because I want people to realize that anybody that wants to travel can make it happen if they want it bad enough. Traveling is a matter of priorities, not money. You always hear people say they can’t afford to travel, but I interpret that as traveling just isn’t their first priority of where they want to spend their money. People always say to me, “You are so LUCKY you get to travel,” or “You guys must have a lot of money,” I do feel extremely lucky to be able to travel, but it’s not luck, I didn’t wake up one morning and a leprechaun left me a pot of gold in my travel fund. I MADE my luck and I SAVED my money.
I have had the same crappy car for ten years and it’s been paid off for at least seven. I refuse to get a new one until it stops driving. The speakers blew out within the first few year, but I deal with it. We don’t have big toys like dirt bikes, 4 wheelers or motor homes. I never get my hair or nails done. I buy my makeup and shampoo at Wal-Mart. I have never worn name brand clothes and half of my wardrobe is from the thrift store (which I love!) We spent the first 4 years of marriage in a condo, saving every single nickel and dime for travel because that was where we wanted to spend our money. We wanted to buy experiences more than we wanted stuff. We decided to wait to have kids because we knew once they came; our travel options would be extremely limited. I wanted to travel in my twenties rather than my sixties.
To this day we haven’t bought one trip on a credit card. We pay in full with our saved money the day we book.
The last thing I want to add is that traveling can be as elaborate or simple as you make it. If you really want to travel, you will, and money will not be a roadblock, only a challenge. Sleep in hostels and trains. Grab a sandwich instead of a 4 course meal. The most expensive part of travel is the plane ticket, and once you have that, you can make everything else happen. It may take 10 years of throwing pennies in a jar, but if you keep at it and you are determined to get it, you will have it.