How I Afford to Travel the World – A Budget Breakdown

I’m not rich. I’m not a trust fund baby, nor are my parents wiring me clandestine funds. I never won the lottery, besides that one time I won a free goldfish in third grade. And I pinky promise, I’m not a drug dealer.

So how do I afford to travel so much?

It’s a great question, and a question that I get on a weekly basis. With a little sacrifice and some planning, if you put your mind to it you can do it too! So, I’m going to let you guys in on my secrets.

My adorable students in Granada! Can you spot me- (2)

1. To begin with, I have two jobs. Both of which, travel with me.

 – I’m a freelance writer.

My adorable students in Granada! Can you spot me- (5)

Not only do I write this very blog that you’re reading right now, but I do freelance writing and social media work for a digital marketing company based in NYC. I also find extra projects on a website called UpWork.com, which is a platform for freelancers of any type and skill to find projects! In other words, you don’t have to be a writer with a journalism degree like me to do freelance. You’d be amazed at how many skills are needed through your computer! The beauty of it? Your laptop is your office.

– I teach English. 

My adorable students in Granada! Can you spot me?
My adorable students in Granada! Can you spot me?

Teaching English is my “side hustle”, and a great one at that.  I don’t have a teaching degree, nor was it ever something I even thought about. However, four years ago when I was looking into ways I could travel the world, I found the Language Assistant Teaching program (aka “auxiliares de conversación“) in Spain, sponsored by the Spanish government. I could work for 12 hours a week as an English teaching assistant, and spend the rest of my time writing and traveling! It was perfect. Little did I know I would end up loving it, so I got TEFL Certified. Here in Vietnam, I continue to teach English only 10 hours a week as a part-time gig, as I spend most of my time writing. However, Casey Man works as a teacher full-time, and is able to live very comfortably from it! Teaching English is a wonderful way to make a stable income abroad, get insight into a new culture, and (hopefully) get a visa.

*Note: To work as an auxiliar in Spain, you must be a native English speaker. However, in Vietnam, as long as you are fluent in English with a TEFL certification, you should be able to find a job!

2. I live in (very) affordable countries.

afford to travel

Let’s be real. Nobody ever got rich working as a freelance writer / part-time English teacher. I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to pull off this lifestyle if I were living back in NYC. However, both Spain and even more so Vietnam are cheap countries to live in. Rent is about $300/ month, and food is ridiculously cheap (well, in Granada, free).  Living in affordable (and beautiful!) places like Granada and Da Nang means I can not only live a high quality of life, but also travel and even save.

3. And I travel on the cheap.

That’s right, I just used “travel” and “cheap” in the same sentence. I promise, it can be done! (Disclaimer: if you’re hell-bent on spending your vacation in a luxury 5-star hotels and Michelin-star restaurants, this approach isn’t for you). Here’s my 3-prong approach:

– Hostels over hotels. And friends over everything.

There are some really nice hostels out there! In Europe, a nice hostel can start as low as 15 euros a night. Here in southeast Asia, you can get some pretty nice digs for 6 bucks. You can even get a private room if you don’t like the idea of having a sleepover with 4+ strangers. If hostels aren’t your thing, of course there’s always Airbnb. TIP: When booking on hostelworld, always try and stay above 9.0 rating, and read what it says about cleanliness, location and social scene (depending on how social you want).

And the best case scenario…stay with a friend! Throughout my past 3+ years living abroad and traveling I’ve had the opportunity to make close friends from all over the world who have opened up their home/ sofa to me. I’ve been lucky enough to visit friends in Munich, Paris and San Francisco, all of which happen to be super expensive for my little freelancer’s budget. So, now that I’m in Vietnam… let’s hope I make some friends from Singapore and Japan!

– Cheap (bangin’) eats.

My adorable students in Granada! Can you spot me- (3)

I hardly ever go to fancy restaurants when I’m traveling. In fact, I find that the best local food is often in cheap, local hole-in-the-wall little hideaways! Finding the best cheap eats on the road is a key skill to have. In Europe, some of the best food I’ve eaten has been in tiny little local taverns. And here in Asia, it’s mindblowing how good and CHEAP the street food is.

– And really cheap plane tickets.

Skyscanner is my best friend. Search “cheap flights everywhere” and it’ll tell you where in the world you can go for ridiculously cheap. My 2nd favorite tool is the “flight tracker” option, where you can sign up to get notifications if a flight is about to go up or down (this feature is also on Google Flights). And my final secret…USE YOUR FLIGHT MILES! Start swiping away on your credit card for groceries, movie tickets, rent…whatever your daily costs entail. Next thing you know, you’ll have precious flight miles waiting to fly you somewhere FO’ FREE. I flew from NYC to San Francisco for f-r-e-e.
My adorable students in Granada! Can you spot me- (1)

And that, my friends, is how I manage to live my life on the road. Or in the air, rather.

How do you afford to travel?! If you’ve got any tips or tricks, we’d love to hear!

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