Forewarning: this post is going to be geared toward college-aged and twenty-something kids.
I was reminded today by one of my professors about how important it is for young people to actually go out and travel. There is no better time than when you are young, especially if you’re in university or just finishing up. At this point in most young people’s lives, they bear minimum responsibilities: no car payments, no mortgage payments, no children to pay for, and nothing to do during most breaks other than work. However, whenever I talk to people my age about travelling, most make it seem like it would be impossible for them to fit into their lives. In fact, the top two questions I get asked when I’m about to leave for a trip (or have stated that I am going on a new trip) are: 1) How do you have the money to travel? and 2) How do you find the time to travel?
The answers to these questions are pretty simple: I work and save money, and then I make time. I am relatively fortunate that I am still a college student, and therefore have long breaks. Unfortunately, these breaks are usually during peak travel season, so I don’t get great rates, but I manage to work around this in a few different ways. I also have several tips that I have not as of yet tried and tested myself, but have heard from others that they are good strategies.
How to get the money to travel:
- Have a means of generating income. Get a steady job or make money doing odd jobs. Every last dime helps.
- Watch what you spend money on. Compared to many of my peers, I find that I save a significant amount of money by avoiding drinking and recreational drug use. These are huge money sucks, and they generally aren’t the most rewarding ways to spend your cash. Besides, the party scene is almost always beter abroad.
- If you’re young, economize on your cost of living. If you can, spend the time that you work at your parents house. Not having to pay rent or utilities is an awesome way to save money. If you have no choice, economize on your utilities as best as you can: take shorter showers, use your electricity more efficiently (unplug those appliances when you’re done with them!), and turn down the heat/ac.
- Eat in. Cook your own meals– it’ll save you big bucks compared to eating out. Also, make your own tea or coffee– buying a cup of tea, especially at swanky shops like Starbucks, can cost you the same as buying a big box of tea bags.
- Plan your trip accordingly. If you can travel in the off season, do it. Try Europe in winter, or warm places in summer. See my post about budget travel HERE.
How to find time to travel:
- Make it. Make travelling a priority, and treat it accordingly. Plan your trip, finalize your dates, and ask for time off of work. If you go to school, vacations are an excellent time to go.
- Take advantage of natural breaks in your life. If you just finished high school, college, or a job, consider taking some time to travel before you jump right into the next thing.
- Make the most of necessary travel. If you need to travel for work or for a wedding, etc, take the time in that place to explore the local areas. If you’re going to go to Europe for any reason, try and book an extra week to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to see.
How to go places with the burden of student loans:
- Join the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps will defer your student loans for you, and can help you pay for graduate school as well. This is a big commitment, however– two years of your life– and is for the most part unpaid. Moral questions involving the Peace Corps are something to consider as well: the PC is a US Government organization, and has US Foreign and Economic policy in mind. You may not make any concrete differences in the overall quality of life of the villages in which you live, but you will absolutely gain a huge amount of cultural and work experiences while you’re away.
- Work while you’re abroad. Apply for a work visa, and use this money to maintain your cost of living AND to pay off your student loans.
This is the best advice I have to offer at this point, and I hope it is beneficial to some of you out there. You CAN travel, and you can travel soon. Make it a priority and you’ll be astounded how easy it is to get around cheaply. Also, you can refer to my post about budget travel tips, which will hopefully help you save a lot of money before you go and while you’re away.