By: Natasha Archary
Whether you’ve been bitten by the wanderlust bug or not, chances are you will at some point in life crave the adventure that travel brings. The thing is, after that first bite of travel freedom, it may not be easy to quit the addiction that travelling brings. But is it financially savvy to travel throughout the year?
We all have friends or family members who seem to live out of suitcases for much of the year, often leaving us with questions. How can anyone afford to travel that much? Why do they have such financial freedom? When will I be able to just pack up and take trips around the world?
There’s no secret to travelling more. The answer is simply to stop making excuses and start making changes to your lifestyle. Think about it, travel isn’t the only excuse human beings make. It’s easier to convince ourselves that we can’t do something than to put in the energy to defy our own odds.
“I can’t afford a gym membership right now.”
“Eating healthy is so expensive.”
“I can’t go out Friday night, I have no money.”
Sound familiar? Many South Africans are not experts at managing their own finances, majority are broke before the month ends. Of course, one could argue that the average South African earns minimum wage. A valid argument, provided our spending habits did not factor into the negative earnings to spend ratio.
A cycle of overspending leaves us with no means, even if our income bracket were to be considered well above the poverty line. We are a social society and a large chunk of our monthly earnings are reserved for partying over weekends and eating out. We splurge on branded clothing, food and, for the love of social media, aim for the extravagance that is the Instagram lifestyle.
Every travel naysayer thinks their current financial situation is special. That the reason they are unable to afford to travel trumps the next persons’. It really doesn’t. We believe this because it’s easier to accept that a change in our habits and lifestyle could remedy this.
Many who travel, make drastic cuts to their monthly budgets and save towards a travel fund. Of course, we are talking about the average South African not trust-fund babies whose corporate executive parents can account for the whims of their twenty-something unemployed, college drop out offspring, who has a case of wanderlust.
Be more financially savvy to travel:
- Cut costs – No more going out on weekends and covering the bill. Invite friends over to your place rather, buy a few bottles of wine and ask each one to bring some food over. This way the cost doesn’t fall solely on one person. Cut every unnecessary expense you indulge in currently. Buy food in bulk, don’t take your clothes to the laundry, cut out junk, walk more or take public transport to save daily travel costs etc…
- Travel smarter – Most travel agencies offer group discounts on flights, accommoation and travel packages. It makes financial sense to join a travel group on social media and book trips together.
- Au pair – If you’re young and are looking to earn some cash while travelling to another country, becoming an au pair may be the answer you seek. Only drawback is that you have to be passionate about kids.
- Apply for working visas – You didn’t study all these years for nothing now did you? You’re not tied to South Africa so don’t feel like your first working experience has to come from your country of birth. Apply for working visas abroad. Duration is dependent entirely on you. You can travel, gain international work experience and earn some good money this way. When the visa is up, you simply choose your next destination and move on.
- Supplement your income – If your current job does not allow you financial freedom, despite cutting back on costs, then perhaps it’s time you supplement your income by taking up a second gig. Something you can juggle in between your regular nine to five eg. Blogging, social media management, photography, graphic design etc…with a little creativity extra cash is attainable, you just need to be willing to work for it.
- Become a travel blogger – This may take some time and you’ll have to initially cover the costs of your travels. Until you build a social media following it may not be easy to get this off the ground. It’s something you have to be dedicated to, working consistently, writing blogs, being active on social media and engaging with the online world. It’s tough but it can be done.
So before you look at your travelling friends with envy, give them some credit for pushing their boundaries and daring to live large. You too can enjoy the sunsets of Machu Pichu or take an adventure of a lifetime to the bucket list destination that is the Everest Base Camp. The only question that remains is, how bad do you want it?