13 Ways to Help Yourself Afford Travel

 Me, affording travel in Bulgaria.

Me, affording travel in Bulgaria.

I am writing this on my iPad overlooking happy families, kayakers, and overly romantic couples on the edges of Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua. |Paradise| With increasing regularity, I have been receiving Instagram comments, private messages and texts with the not-so-subtle, "so are you working out there or, what are you doing exactly? I mean, how can you afford it?" In light of my new, mindset upgrade to seeing everything as glass half full, I perceive these questions not as low-key judgments, but rather as genuine interest and concern for my existence. Thus, I shall tell the masses some of my ways :)

What follows are the ways in which I have afforded backpacking only, from Australia 2014 to MesoAmerica 2014-2015, Europe 2016, Australia again and Sicily in 2017.

1. Choosing locations in which my dollar can go far. By far, I mean: a place where it's common to get a full meal for $6 or less, have accommodation for $10 or less per night, take public transportation for several cents, rent a bike for a day for $5 or less,and so on. (This wasn't Australia, but I had different benefits for those trips). When I'm home, I do my best to work daily for gig-type jobs in the evening and I substitute taught during the days. I have always been excellent at saving nickels and dimes, and when I'm saving for a trip, I am Queen of Frugality. I don't go anywhere, don't shop and may even pick up a side job.

 The dollar goes real far in Hungary.

The dollar goes real far in Hungary.

2. Searching for work-away, volunteer opportunities or house sitting, which cuts the cost of accommodation (i.e., that second jaunt to Oz). Working away may also cut the food and laundry costs. For instance, I worked away in November and December of 2014 in Mexico and I spent about $200USD in each month. Mainly for ancillary and unnecessary stuff that kept my sanity, like a nice meal out or buckets of Nutella.

3. Couchsurfing. I couchsurfed at least five times between Oaxaca, Mexico southward to San Salvador, El Salvador. Being able to receive all the amenities that I would get at home with my family is NICE. I love couchsurfing. The main cost there is purchasing groceries to cook for yourself and your host at least one meal, or maybe even all of them (which I like doing). Sometimes they treat you entirely and nothing comes out of your pocket. #Lit. Also, staying in hostels for $10 or less nightly, that offer you a full kitchen are the absolute best. You save SO much by cooking for yourself and buying from local markets, if possible.

 Cooking on the road helped me save money as well.

Cooking on the road helped me save money as well.

4. I also have a debit card that refunds me all my ATM fees on a monthly basis and a rewards credit card where I get travel credit (I have two credit cards that offer rewards). These types of cards in particular can help you A LOT.

5. Another aspect I recommend is avoiding tours like the plague. In some circumstances they are great, like when there's a language barrier and you feel you need to know the whole story. Fine, go for it. But I promise that you can go to a national park on your own, pay the negligible entrance fee, meander aimlessly for hours and get more out of it than someone who did a tour package for a measly two hours and had a poor tour guide that didn't even fully translate. I bet you can tell that that scene was a bitter lesson learned.

HOWEVER, free city tours are typically a good move. Big ups to Dino at Sofia City Tour

6. Refilling a non-plastic (cancer causing) water bottle instead of consistently buying anew

7. Carrying my own wet wipes - you can do all the things with these, including a makeshift shower. #Essential

 Work exchanging in hostels in Mexico.

Work exchanging in hostels in Mexico.

8. Bringing sunblock and repellent from home (better yet -- make your own)

9. Bringing just a carry-on sized bag and smaller personal bag - if you’re backpacking and not living for months at a time!

10. Unlocking your smartphone and only using it when there's Wifi available or buy a local sim card

11. Budget. I use the website and app, Mint

12. Keep these essential oils on deck for any & all reasons: Tea Tree, Lemon, Lavender, Clove.

13. Hitchhiking is a common form of transit in many countries -- just be sensible. Don't be a solo female trying to find a ride at midnight and you can't speak the language.

 Hitchhiking in Nicaragua.

Hitchhiking in Nicaragua.

*Originally posted on adventuresofv.com

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Victoria Cumberbatch

Vik’s penchant for travel may or may not have truly begun with her 1st place win of the 5th grade Geography Bee. Semester at Sea & solo backpacking may have solidified the whole thing though ;) With 57 countries and 40 U.S. states on her passport, the tried and true ideal of 9-5 traditional adulting simply doesn’t fit. She’ll be in Australia in early 2017 perfecting her coffee snob proclivities, Aussie accent, & playing lots of beach volleyball. Later, if you’re so inclined, find her working as a program leader with Remote Year traversing the globe on: adventuresofv.com & @adventuresOFv. She hopes to hear from you!