Every time I take off on another trip, I get at least a few messages from friends asking how I’m doing this. I would have done the exact same thing a year ago: you see someone living your dream and globetrotting and you want to know how. This post is here to tell you how I travel so much as a full-time student and without spending a dollar of my parents’ money.
First of all, I don’t want this post to sound braggy. I know that I’ve been very lucky to be born into such great circumstances; I recognize that. But when people tell me I’m lucky to do what I do, it does annoy me a bit: I work my butt off for everything I have. I’m paying for university completely on my own, and I don’t have student loans. My parents haven’t given me money since I was old enough to get a part time job, although of course they support me in so many other ways. I work multiple jobs while taking seven classes, volunteering often, and taking a trip around every month, which makes me feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up. I know that there are very real barriers for some people to fulfill their travel dreams, but for the vast majority of you? If travel is your passion and you want to make it a part of your life, you can! The two biggest obstacles to travel are money and time.
I work multiple, flexible jobs.
Obviously, it wouldn’t work very well for me to have a non-flexible job. I’m abroad relatively often, and even when I’m in Nova Scotia I shuttle back and forth between my university and my hometown all the time. I work as a Teaching Assistant and a tutor, and I also make money from my blog and a Virtual Assistant job. My two in-person jobs are very flexible in that I can trade work with other TA’s, and tutoring is done totally on my schedule. If these had more rigid hours, my travel would be limited. Online jobs are obviously the ideal, as I can continue to work while I’m on the road.
I schedule classes to accommodate for travel.
Two points here: first of all, I don’t have class on Mondays or Fridays. That means I can extend a week-long trip pretty far on either side, giving me more days to travel. Although I’ll still have to miss class (unless I have a break) this is a huge benefit. I could also do weekend trips very easily if I wanted! Second, I picked a lot of random electives this semester solely based on the fact that missing class wouldn’t be a huge deal. I graduate in December so I’m getting a lot of elective requirements out of the way. Why not take them in a semester where I know I’ll be traveling a lot? To be honest, I’ve been very disillusioned with university lately, and it hasn’t been my priority: I want to keep my scholarship and get out of here. Bad attitude? Maybe. I still get everything done, but I do it grudgingly.
I use the heck out of my planner.
When people say they don’t have a planner (or they don’t use some sort of online calendar) I feel utterly shocked. Without my planner, I would never make it anywhere and nothing would ever get done. Especially when I’m about to go on a trip, I can look at the upcoming weeks and see what I need to get done before I leave. This way I don’t miss things while I’m gone, and when I get back I don’t have to play catch-up quite as much. Time management is the key to basically everything in my opinion, and that’s true for allowing yourself to travel more.
I make sacrifices.
My parents have shown me that spending money on experiences is always the better choice, and my brilliant mother has been an amazing role model for budgeting and saving; I unconsciously learned a lot about money as a child. Those skills translated to this day, and I’m really proud of how financially independent I’ve been since age 16. I learned that I would have to make sacrifices, and I do. I love shopping. I bought a few shirts the other day (second-hand), but I have really successfully kicked my shopping addiction. Going from spending $1000 on clothes and shoes on one trip to New York City to spending maybe $100 every few months is a big achievement for me. If you want to travel a lot, you’re going to need to stop spending so much money on other things. I don’t shop much, I use coupons and buy the bare minimum of groceries, I split costs whenever I can (i.e. Netflix), and I stick to a very strict budget. Don’t be scared by the word budget – it’s actually quite a freeing concept. I never feel anxiety about spending way too much because I know exactly what I can spend. Set up a budget, stick to it, and in no time you’ll see how much money you can really save when you put your mind to it.
Obviously, one of the most important ways to travel more is to travel cheap. I stay in dirt-cheap hostels, walk everywhere, eat street food, and spend an inordinate time finding the best deal on a flight.
Here’s a whole post I wrote with some tips on how to travel more in university. A lot of them are focused on time and making the most of your time as a student to travel!