Countdown to New Zealand: 4 days.
So, in the meantime, I thought I’d post a few breakdowns on making a goal of traveling happen for you, if you’re not sure where to begin.
The following suggestions are by no means me trying to reinvent the wheel; they are a combination of ideas I learned from others and what I’ve found worked for me.
1. Become single.
…Just kidding! In all seriousness, I read lots of travel blogs and memoirs, and both single and coupled people successfully travel solo. 🙂 But if you do find that you happen to be single, you definitely have nothing to lose by setting out on a solo adventure…and everything to gain! (P.S., every cliche used about traveling on this blog is genuinely sincere.)
2. Stop buying stuff! Once you’ve spent a lot of time outside of the U.S., you’ll notice how extremely materialistic our country is by comparison. If you want to have money to see the world, you can’t keep buying everything you want (a.k.a., think you “need”). Cut unnecessary trips to the mall. Fill a thermos of coffee from home instead of stopping at Starbucks. Pack lunch when you can. Cook dinner, with friends, to still be social. You don’t have to be a hermit to save money. When you go out with friends, be like me and buy the cheapest drink on the menu, or be really classy and drink at home first (if you’re not driving).
3. Save money you’d spend going out to the movies and rent DVDs from the public library instead. And hey, the library has books, too! Get a library card if you don’t have one anymore. Another money-saving tip I like is mooching off someone else’s Netflix. Most nice friends shouldn’t mind if you only use their login for a month or so while you’re saving up for a trip.
4. Start selling stuff. Craigslist, Facebook, then to friends, etc. I sold around $300 worth of things on Craigslist before I started donating stuff I just wanted to get rid of to friends and family first, and then to Goodwill.
5. Minimize rent if you want to travel longer than a month. Move in with family or couch surf with friends for a while. My rent was cheap enough for me to afford while I was gone for a few weeks, but then I moved in with family when my lease was up. If your rent is high, consider subletting or try to break your lease if you can’t wait. And if you’re a homeowner, consider renting out rooms on Airbnb.
6. If you’ve been unhappy with your job for some time, and it’s feasible for you to do so, quit. (It’s scary, but you’ll figure out something more fulfilling. Do this after thinking through your finances and having enough time to save up money for your travels, though.) Otherwise, try to take a leave of absence or use paid/unpaid vacay time. You will thank yourself later. What I did was travel during school holidays throughout the year (and yay, my job had summers off, too) and then I ultimately decided not to renew my contract and travel on a long-term basis.
7. If you have a destination in mind (or if you don’t, and want to get an idea of what current flight deals are) check out budget flight websites. My favorites are Skyscanner and Momondo. I usually cross-check the two because it varies which one is cheaper.
8. Figure out what you’re going to do in your destination. Leisure? Use hostelworld.com to find highly-rated, cheap accommodation where you’re guaranteed to make friends and connections. Work? Get onto networks for what you want to do (I can reveal more on that later, but for now, I would recommend the book Work Your Way Around the World by Susan Griffith as a resource.) Want to volunteer? Register at workaway.info for a worldwide database of volunteer spots that will provide you with free room and board. Membership prices vary depending on where you live; in the U.S., it’s $29/year. I’ve done mostly leisure travel so far, and have done workaway once, and now I’ll be working abroad for the first time–through an au pair job network on Facebook. The internet can be a wonderful thing! Just make sure to do your research to be safe.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’re ready to start packing! (Or you hopefully have a clearer idea for future plans.)
Up next on Making Traveling a Reality: Logistics!