Hustle, Karma, And Couchsurfing: 5 Secrets To Travel With Any Budget
What if I told you you could travel as much as you want, as far as you want, and you would not have to worry about anything including your financial situation? Well, that situation that doesn’t exist. It’s not reality for the majority of travelers unless you are in line to inherit millions (Not bad if that is your reality), then you are going to have to ball on some sort of budget. Have no fear, traveling on a budget can be a bit of pain at times, but can lead you to some great adventures outside of your comfort zone!
Let’s talk money. More specifically, let’s talk money and travel.
If you’ve ever gone on any sort of backpacking trip for any considerable amount of time then it is inevitable you’ve been asked questions like, “So how did you pay for all this traveling.” or my favorite, “If you don’t mind me asking, how much did this trip cost?” First of all, I do mind you asking! I’m kidding. I’m being dramatic. Maybe I need some more coffee! I really don’t mind these questions, but people are always amazed that I am 24 years old and have traveled to almost 40 countries.
Yes, it is pretty cool, not gonna lie, but I know many other people, both young and old, doing the same sort of traveling as me. So, want to know the secrets of how to travel on a budget? In this article, I lay out 5 ways to travel with whatever budget you have in even the most expensive countries in the world!
There is no way around this method and I never said this was going to be easy, but let’s be honest, how bad do you want to travel? You’re gonna have to work for it! When I was in university, a lot of my friends went out and partied every weekend. Don’t get me wrong I had my fun too, but once I realized how much I enjoyed traveling, I took a bartending class, learned how to make drinks, pour, garnish, and I picked up a bartending job in Dallas. I worked catering jobs whenever I could find them. When everyone went to the football games, I was a bartender for TCU’s former AD Chris Del Conte (Although he is at Texas now ):, he and his family are amazing and incredibly generous!) for 3 years. I started my own little promotion business for a bar near my school. I sharpened my sales skills cold calling alumni soliciting donations. I’ve always hustled starting at age 12 when I would buy tickets for scalpers outside Wrigley Field in Chicago, but I HUSTLED my ass off once I had the extra motivation to travel and pay for Spring Break and summer vacation trips. It wasn’t always pretty, glamorous, or easy, but it was well worth it, met a TON of people, and had some fun along the way doing it! There’s no getting around this one. If you want to travel, you are going to have to work hard for it. Most likely 10 times harder than you have been.
2. SAVE...INVEST WHEN YOU CAN
I am not a financial planner nor do I have any credentials when it comes to financial management, but I do know a thing or two about saving and investing. I read an article recently by USA Today that said 1 in 6 Millennials have $100,000 or more in savings. I love this! I’ve always been a big proponent of having a budget and saving.
How do you do this? Cut out things you don’t need. Limit the number of meals out and nights out. Get roommates to reduce rent. Figure out where you can trim down some financial fat. For example, do you really need that Fab.Fit.Fun subscription every month? Figure out how much you spend monthly and see how much money you have left over once you pay all of your bills. As I like to say, play with half and save half. If you have a trip coming up within the next three months, save all.
Once you have figured out your savings and how much feels right for you, invest some of that money and let it work for you! I was lucky enough to have a mentor help me get started investing, but keep it simple if you are just starting out and stick to index funds for example.You could invest, for example, $20 a month. That’s $240 a year, in 5 years, you would have invested over $1,000! There are tons of options out, research what is best for you and your money.
One of the best ways to save money, get FREE accomodation and food, and have a more authentic, local experience is through Workaway or WOOF. Both of these sites connect people that need help, generally in smaller towns, for projects on farms, art, or even building sustainable communities and travelers. Most opportunities provide accommodations and food in exchange for work. The work schedule depends on the project, but most are 5-6 hour a day, 5 days a week. You stay with a host and live with them. You can a glimpse into their lives and they will teach you about their culture, language..etc. I did a Workaway on the Galapagos Islands for a upscale resort and I had a great experience. The work was tough in the hot and humid climate, but I got to experience the Galapagos for almost a month for less than $1,000. On top of that, I got to learn about the ecosystem of the Galapagos, some of the history, and improved my Spanish tremendously by being forced to speak it everyday.
4.COUCHSURFING,MATSURFING ARE YOUR FRIENDS
Kayaking in Isabela Island while seeing penguins and having dolphins swim next to me, getting a full city tour of Dublin, going to a secret swimming spot in Cali, Colombia, and a local night out in Québec City are only some of the experiences I’ve been able to have through Couchsurfing. Through the site, you are able to stay with hosts for free in exchange for companionship, practicing languages, or talking about your culture. It is always great to connect with like minded people, have a local show you around the city, and see how they live their lives for a few days. The free part is just a nice bonus. I’ve even met some lifelong friends on the site and still stay in contact with some of them to this day! For my jiu-jitsu people, BJJ Globetrotters created Matsurfing, which is the same concept as Couchsurfing, but for jiu-jitsu lovers. It allows you to train and travel, which is the ultimate life. I have only tried it once in Lima, Peru, but I absolutely loved it and had an amazing experience! I look forward to using it more in the future.
5. DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE...GOOD THINGS WILL COME TO YOU
This tip is more of an idea, but something you can always put into practice. Traveling is difficult and is not as glamorous as all the Instagram pictures you see might lead you to believe. At times, you may be cold, tired, sick, confused, jet lagged, hungry, emotional, and many other things. While you can’t change others around you or what happens on your trip, you can control your attitude and how you handle things. Don’t be an asshole, be nice to people, and others will most likely, help you out. It’s very easy to become defensive and think everyone is out to get you, but my belief is that 99% of the world is full of good hearted people that just want to lend a helping hand. Sure, there is the other 1%, but the more I travel, the more I realize we all want the same things. It pays to be nice and if you can, learn some words or a funny saying in the local language. It immediately puts other people at ease and they will find it hilarious a foreigner took the time to learn something silly. For example, In Spanish, I always say, “Eso..Pan de queso.” It’s something native Spanish speakers say when they are kids, so it’s funny to hear a blonde, blue-eyed Gringo say that phrase. Don’t be an asshole and don’t forget to practice smiling and nodding :)