I grew up primarily with my grandma. It was fun, because… come on, do I have to explain why? Grandmas are freakin awesome, and my grandma was even more freakin awesome than other grandmas because she was mine. But even the awesomest of people come with flaws. One of her flaws was that she just didn’t trust the world around her. She’d seen too much bad things in her life and watched the news way too much to believe there is good. Maybe it’s because I don’t watch the news, or maybe it’s simply because I don’t actively look for the bad in everything when there’s so much good. Either way, despite basically being raised by her, I grew up seeing the world in an opposite light.
Funnily, that’s not the only belief we came out on opposite ends of the spectrum with. I feel like a part of her had this belief that you had to have money to actually make it in the world. Obviously, you do… when you have a house, kids, family, you have all these piling bills that have to be paid unless you want a bad credit. But what if you don’t have a house or kids or a growing family of your own? Better yet, what if you don’t even really want any of these things and feel you’d be happier without the stress?
As much as my grandma loved me, I am not sure if she would be proud of me or if she’d be rolling around in that grave of hers now that I’ve discovered how cheap travel can really be, because once I have all the money saved up, and I’m on the road… I’m probably never gonna wanna come back home. Hell, home probably isn’t even gonna feel like home after being anywhere else for an extended period of time.
So, yeah… saving up for this trip of a lifetime is gonna be fun, especially knowing how bad with money I have been in the past. Not to mention I have a shitty job with mediocre pay, and I am a student. How exactly am I saving up to pay for this adventure? Well, I’ve recently learned how quickly money adds up when you’re not spending it. From my weekly paychecks, I generally take from 20-50% of the earnings out of checking and store it away in savings. If it’s a smaller paycheck, I put away more money. I don’t spend anything unless it’s on something I actually need.
Also, I am going to a community college, which means my tuition is gonna be a lot cheaper than if I were to be going to Uni. I am eligible for 5 years worth of student aid (I will probably be going for 3.5 years for two associates). Judging by the fact that I am eligible for about $2,865/semester and it only takes $552 to go full time (12 units), plus the cost of books and supplies, it really shouldn’t be that hard to put $1k away per semester and use the aid to my advantage. I feel there’s a certain irony about school funding these travels for the most part.
Obviously I will be adding any extra money to the travel funds as time passes, when I have the extra money to add.
I also recently obtained the Discover It Miles card, to collect Miles and pay for getting there and back via those points. Also, I get to build my already really good credit, which is a good bonus. The really nice thing about this rewards card is I earn 1.5 Miles for every dollar I spend, and while it does not have a traditional sign on bonus like many other options do, there is the doubling up bonus after the first year of collecting Miles. On your 1-year anniversary with the card, Discover automatically doubles all the points you’ve earned through spending throughout the year and there is no cap. And with the money I will be spending for school in the next year, I can definitely cash in on that. Also! No annual fees, which was a huge deciding factor for me when I chose to go with this card.
How much is it actually gonna cost to do this? Honestly, I don’t know, as I’ve yet to embark on this journey and I have never done anything like this before, not to mention I plan on vagabonding through Europe, and the basic cost of living differs from country to country… I am considering a vacation later this fall to Portland just to get a taste of what I will be experiencing using the same methods I intend to use to make travel cheap when I venture out into the world. (Also so I can get some experience on a plane, as I currently have none…) I made a budget for that trip, lasting a week, airfare included… and it came out to be $700. The airfare and the “Oh, shit I screwed up on budgeting this” fund take up most of the entire budget. Prior to getting advice on budget travel, I would have expected a trip like that to be $2,500, at least.
Plus, it really depends on where you go. If you offset as many costs as you can, by using services like Couchsurfing and buying food in markets rather than eating out every destination, simply living on the road like you would at home, it is entirely possible to do it with under $30/day. My personal goal before going off is $7,500…. I estimate, through research, that will get me backpacking through Europe for about 9 months. Give or take.
I do feel like making this decision was a really good one for me. Before, I didn’t really have a sense of priority, and because of that, I really didn’t know how to save my money. Now that I have actual goals, all of which are reachable, actually having a budget and saving up actually comes naturally to me.
With all my research and talking with people who do the same thing I want to do, I really am learning that it’s a complete myth that you need to have a lot of money to see the world, and I can’t wait to actually put all this research to use and actually get out into the world and experience what it’s like living as a Nomad.