How can you afford to travel?
That’s the first question everyone always wants to ask. They assume our travels are funded by family or we have some kind of trust fund to blow through. I am here to tell you that, while our families are supportive of our adventures, we have never been given any money for our travels by anyone.
Ok, So how do you do it?
People say “oh, you’re so lucky”, when they hear about travels. Lucky would be if we won the lottery. It is by no luck that we do what we do. What they don’t see are the sacrifices we make and the discipline it takes to be able to “afford” it.
We work really hard to be able to have fun. When we aren’t traveling, we are working 40+ hours a week. At times we have worked 2 and even 3 different jobs, putting in 60-70 hour weeks. Both of us are the type of people who have always had jobs and always saved our money. When we met in high school I was working at a grocery store and Katherine was working at a pizza place. That is literally how far back we started pooling our money together to travel. When Katherine went to college she worked two part-time jobs on the side and I worked full-time. When she graduated we switched places and she worked full- time while I went to school and worked part-time.
It takes discipline to hold down good jobs and even more discipline to be able to save. That is what provided us with a lot of the financial foundation we needed to go on these trips. What really makes the difference though, is the ability to go beyond that. That means taking on extra hours every time they are available without blinking an eye, and finding side jobs to make extra money on top of that. Not only have we both always filled our schedules with as much work as we can, but we constantly look for other opportunities on the side.
Two Words: Side Hustle
In 2015 we opened and operated our own foodtruck. We bought the empty shell of a trailer and then built the rig ourselves. Our specialty was Argentine empanadas and iced yerba mate tea. We were both already working full-time, so we operated the food truck on weekends and after work. On Fridays we would both work our 9-5 and then meet at the kitchen at 6pm and prep food for the weekend until midnight. We would then get up the next day at sunrise to take the truck out. The truck was popular at the local farmer’s markets and other events. We became profitable within our first quarter, which means that we paid ourselves back for everything we had invested and were able to retain some cash after paying ourselves. We later went on to sell the food truck.
Katherine graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in 2012. Since then she has found work as a commissioned muralist. She has also been able to sell many of her own personal pieces of art at her various exhibitions and showings. After she recovers the cost of her supplies, the money she earns from these projects usually goes straight into our travel fund. Check out more of her art on her Facebook page!
In my senior year of college I began seeking an outlet for some of the marketing and business concepts I was studying in college. This led to me starting a small side business where I do freelance web design, graphic design, photo/video work, and other digital marketing for a few small companies. I taught myself most everything I know about web and graphic design and the marketing skills obviously came from my studies in business school. I mostly just do graphic and web design work for friends and colleagues, but I have found a few other gigs that provided some additional income to cover equipment costs and then go towards travel.
On top of all of this, we do a few more small things to make side money for travel. I buy and sell a couple of used cars every year for a small turn around. I do electronics repairs on computers and phones. I find craigslist gigs such as helping people move or hammering signs in the ground. I have been a plasma donor and participated in university surveys and research. The list goes on and on. The key is really just to never turn down an opportunity to make money and never stop looking for those opportunities. It’s amazing how quickly you forget about those 70 hour work weeks when you have been sitting on the beach for a month straight.
It’s also worth pointing out what I mean when I talk about financial discipline, because that is half the battle to being able to travel long-term. You have to be smart with your money in order to save it. We both drive junk cars that we paid for in cash. That means no car payments and our insurance is cheap. We both have credit cards but we carry zero debt. We don’t have loans of any sort. We have a monthly grocery budget that we stick to and only treat our selves to dinners and drinks out on occasion. We don’t go on shopping sprees or buy ourselves new things every time they come out. We try not to participate in materialism at all really. We save every little cent we can so that when the time is right, we can do big things. When we go on a trip, we bring that same attitude with us. We eat street food and sleep in dirty bus stop hooker hotels. We walk 10-20 miles around cities to save on cab fare. We hitchhike and camp outside. We are budget travelers.
“Don’t spend money on gear. Spend it on plane tickets.”
Travel and Save
People often overlook this small detail about long-term travel: No Bills. When we drop everything to go travel, we drop EVERYTHING.
- No phone bill
- No vehicle costs
- No car insurance
- No health insurance
- No rent to pay
- No internet bill
- No cable bill
- No utilities
One of the easiest ways to save money is to stop spending it. Without the holes in your pockets caused by the endless bills and expenses at home, you will be surprised to find that your money lasts a lot longer and goes a lot further when it is only being used for the essentials on the road.
There are a lot more “travel braggers” out there than there are “travel bloggers.” Everyone wants to show off this luxurious travel lifestyle they apparently live full-time. They act like there is some secret method to world travel that only they have figured out. Many bloggers even have a borderline pyramid scheme on their website, where they “teach you how to work remotely and travel the world so you can be awesome like them.” That’s definitely not why we are here or what we do. We are NOT nor will we ever claim to be: “Professional travelers, travel experts, digital nomads, professional bloggers, freelance bloggers, affiliate marketers,” or any other bullshit titles people give themselves to claim they are paid to travel. As I have highlighted above we are not paid to travel. We are really just two kids who have worked our asses off the old fashion way so that we can occasionally drop everything and go.