It seems there are endless articles on Facebook and Pinterest on how to travel as a student, travel cheap, or even travel for free. You click on them excitedly, hoping you’ll get some guidance on how to indulge your wanderlust without ruining your savings and it seems the answer is always the same; stay in hostels, be a paid blogger, have parents who paid for your education so you’re debt free, quit your amazing job that allowed you to save 10,000+ a year and finally use those savings, and skip out on all expensive activities and food.
I hated reading those articles, they always depressed me and made me feel like travel was unattainable. Here I am, an unpaid blogger and graduate student, working full time, in student debt, saving as much as I can yet realizing it’s not all that much, having expensive taste, and definitely not being a hostel person.
I want to see the world and I want to see it on my terms, I don’t want to skip out on a once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity because I’ve run out of funds or not sample amazing local cuisine because I only have money for microwave Ramen. I also have pretty bad anxiety, which does not lend itself to a hostel experience ( I hate sharing bathrooms, I love my personal space, and it’s very exhausting having to be constantly “on” with people). So how I have I managed to travel to places I have? Well a bit of it is luck & family, and the rest is old-fashioned patience.
For example, I’ve traveled all over the US for the simple reason that I’ve lived all over the US. Growing up my family never lived somewhere longer than 5 years, and because of my stepdad’s job we often moved to big cities. By the time I graduated High School I’d lived in L.A., Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas, and Miami. My mom and stepdad currently live in Dallas, and my dad and stepmom live in LA. Every time we moved, we played tourist in our new home. My mom wanted us to see everything that made where we lived unique – from all the kitschy side-shows in Vegas to the beautiful keys of Florida. With my parents living in two different cities (that I get to visit often) I have an affinity for both LA and Dallas and always try to do something new when I visit (essential guides for those cities coming soon). Family is also what allowed me to see Belize and Guatemala, my mom spent several years saving for her 40th birthday vacation and the end result was an amazing trip!
Another way I’ve seen the states is through school, I didn’t stay at home for college and spent my undergrad in Southern Utah (cue a guide to Zion) and am now located in Tucson, AZ for grad school. School is also what allowed me to go to Spain. I studied abroad between my undergrad and grad programs and used scholarships, graduation gifts, savings from my part-time job, and gifts from my parents (in the form of a passport and plane ticket) to get myself there. A school trip in Spain is how I got to see Morocco.
For my upcoming trip to Colombia I’m partially paying with graduation gifts (yay to getting my MA) and the rest comes from money I’ve been saving for the past year from my full-time job. While working and going to school full-time is hard (especially as a graduate student), my job allows me to save money, and because I work on campus I get a discount on tuition. However, even with a full-time job it still took me awhile to save up enough money to travel and I will be saving up until my trip begins, and then immediately afterwards I’ll start preparing for the next one.
So if you stuck it out through my beginning expository, here are my answers to the conundrum of traveling. It is possible. Even without parents and school. Even when my trip for Belize was paid for by my parents I still worked as much as possible to save up extra money. My trip to Spain I spent three years saving up. There is no easy way to travel, no instant Pinterest hack. Being able to travel at a young age takes patience, hard work, savings, and a lot of research. However it’s always worth it.
I plan on posting about different tricks and hacks I use to save and keep my costs down but before I did that I wanted to give y’all a bit of background on me and have full disclosure.