Traveling at 20-Something
How to Take Your Passions Across the World on a Budget
At the ripe age of 19, I traveled with a good friend of mine to the city of Madrid, Spain, to indulge in the magnificent culture and serve through missions. We saved every penny, support raised for months, and then eventually hopped on the plane for our eight hour flight. We spent a few weeks taking in the architecture, new people, and amazing cuisine.
I'm the type of person that travels to learn as much as I possibly can. I travel to gain inspiration. As an artist, traveling is like a second ingrained passion of mine. I do it because I love to see the new things I can write about and take with me when I return home. Now I live in LA where culture encompasses my daily life. But the entirety of my life beforehand was spent in Wisconsin; a place with a lot of familiarity to me.
I love to travel, just as many of us do. However, there are a lot of setbacks to picking up our bags and just leaving for weeks at a time. There's the matter of leaving our steady jobs, travel expenses, having someone to house sit or pet sit or babysit, getting rides to the airport... even language can present a barrier we're not prepared for.
So how is it that young people are able to travel more these days?
I look on Instagram and other social media and it seems like all I see are 20-somethings in Paris, or exploring the Baltics, or venturing through Tokyo. They're young, and they're constantly on the go. Some of these lucky people have jobs that allow them to be constantly traveling and blogging to promote services or products. Some of these people have rich parents that take them to new places. But some of them are simple college students that work hard to save. So, here are some awesome tips to push you to hop on that plane if you're broke and in your twenties.
1. Start a travel savings account.
As simple as this may sound, it's imperative. Separate your travel funds from your regular day-to-day funds. Whether this means having a jar on the counter that you slip a dollar into every so often, or having an actual savings account specific to travel, making sure you have that separation is key. Otherwise, when it comes time to buy a plane ticket and make plans, you might be spending more than you can handle and end up in a stressful situation. But if you have $1000 saved up in your travel account, then you can look at that and budget your trip strictly from that saved money.
2. Ask for support.
Now, I'm tacking this on as a tip from a missions standpoint, because most of the time when I travel out of the country, it's to complete missional work. However, I still think it's important to ask for financial support even if you're going for purely educational purposes. If you're enthralled with the French culture because you've been learning French in your spare time, plan a trip, have your budget set in stone, and start a GoFundMe campaign. People will see your passion clearly and want to help you out!
3. Go cheap.
I don't think I need to tell anyone this, but going cheap in every possible way is important! This means packing light to check less bags and finding cheaper options for housing once you arrive. Maybe opt out of a hotel, and chose to stay with a family who's opened their home to you instead. This way you get more of that cultural element combined with paying less for lodging. It's a win-win. Plan to go out and eat for certain meals, but go grocery shopping for the rest of your meals. You can cook authentic cuisine and save a pretty penny on meals. Do all of the free sightseeing you possible can. Meet natives that can offer advice on things to do. You'll find your spending goes way down.
4. Take someone with you.
I'm an introvert and a natural daredevil, so I'll travel alone any day. But sometimes I have to remind myself that things will be easier and cheaper with an additional person. As silly as it sounds, sometimes portions can be different around the world, and you're able to split meals with a friend. Lodging is cheaper when you split costs in half. Same with transportation costs. Plus, traveling in general is so much more fun with another person or two.
5. For foreign travelers: Try to only switch up currencies once.
As impossible as that sounds, if you're taking our Euros from a local ATM, try to only do that once for the money you might need for the entire trip. Every time you take out funds from a foreign ATM you're likely getting charged an extra fee. Plus, it's time consuming, and it doesn't help with budgeting. If you budgeted $500 for food and gifts overseas, then take out $500 in Euros once you arrive. Keep most of the cash stored safely in your lodging unit, and only carry on you what you might need for the day. That way you can keep receipts and better track what you're sending on a daily basis.
I hope these tips and tricks offered a bit of support and encouragement for your travel. As a twenty year old, you CAN and SHOULD travel where you see fit. Maybe you won't be out on a plane every month, but who says you can't travel a few times a year? International travel is the best; it is possible to save and spend a few weeks in a brand new place to get perspective. These tips are what have made it possible for me to do exactly that.