How I Travel So Much

Every time I take off on another trip, I get at least a few messages from friends asking how I’m doing this. I would have done the exact same thing a year ago: you see someone living your dream and globetrotting and you want to know how. This post is here to tell you how I travel so much as a full-time student and without spending a dollar of my parents’ money.

First of all, I don’t want this post to sound braggy. I know that I’ve been very lucky to be born into such great circumstances; I recognize that. But when people tell me I’m lucky to do what I do, it does annoy me a bit: I work my butt off for everything I have. I’m paying for university completely on my own, and I don’t have student loans. My parents haven’t given me money since I was old enough to get a part time job, although of course they support me in so many other ways. I work multiple jobs while taking seven classes, volunteering often, and taking a trip around every month, which makes me feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up. I know that there are very real barriers for some people to fulfill their travel dreams, but for the vast majority of you? If travel is your passion and you want to make it a part of your life, you can! The two biggest obstacles to travel are money and time.

I work multiple, flexible jobs.

Obviously, it wouldn’t work very well for me to have a non-flexible job. I’m abroad relatively often, and even when I’m in Nova Scotia I shuttle back and forth between my university and my hometown all the time. I work as a Teaching Assistant and a tutor, and I also make money from my blog and a Virtual Assistant job. My two in-person jobs are very flexible in that I can trade work with other TA’s, and tutoring is done totally on my schedule. If these had more rigid hours, my travel would be limited. Online jobs are obviously the ideal, as I can continue to work while I’m on the road.

I schedule classes to accommodate for travel.

Two points here: first of all, I don’t have class on Mondays or Fridays. That means I can extend a week-long trip pretty far on either side, giving me more days to travel. Although I’ll still have to miss class (unless I have a break) this is a huge benefit. I could also do weekend trips very easily if I wanted! Second, I picked a lot of random electives this semester solely based on the fact that missing class wouldn’t be a huge deal. I graduate in December so I’m getting a lot of elective requirements out of the way. Why not take them in a semester where I know I’ll be traveling a lot?  To be honest, I’ve been very disillusioned with university lately, and it hasn’t been my priority: I want to keep my scholarship and get out of here. Bad attitude? Maybe. I still get everything done, but I do it grudgingly.

I use the heck out of my planner.

When people say they don’t have a planner (or they don’t use some sort of online calendar) I feel utterly shocked. Without my planner, I would never make it anywhere and nothing would ever get done. Especially when I’m about to go on a trip, I can look at the upcoming weeks and see what I need to get done before I leave. This way I don’t miss things while I’m gone, and when I get back I don’t have to play catch-up quite as much. Time management is the key to basically everything in my opinion, and that’s true for allowing yourself to travel more.

I make sacrifices.

My parents have shown me that spending money on experiences is always the better choice, and my brilliant mother has been an amazing role model for budgeting and saving; I unconsciously learned a lot about money as a child. Those skills translated to this day, and I’m really proud of how financially independent I’ve been since age 16. I learned that I would have to make sacrifices, and I do. I love shopping. I bought a few shirts the other day (second-hand), but I have really successfully kicked my shopping addiction. Going from spending $1000 on clothes and shoes on one trip to New York City to spending maybe $100 every few months is a big achievement for me. If you want to travel a lot, you’re going to need to stop spending so much money on other things. I don’t shop much, I use coupons and buy the bare minimum of groceries, I split costs whenever I can (i.e. Netflix), and I stick to a very strict budget. Don’t be scared by the word budget – it’s actually quite a freeing concept. I never feel anxiety about spending way too much because I know exactly what I can spend. Set up a budget, stick to it, and in no time you’ll see how much money you can really save when you put your mind to it.

Obviously, one of the most important ways to travel more is to travel cheap. I stay in dirt-cheap hostels, walk everywhere, eat street food, and spend an inordinate time finding the best deal on a flight.

Here’s a whole post I wrote with some tips on how to travel more in university. A lot of them are focused on time and making the most of your time as a student to travel!

How do you incorporate travel into your life? I hope these tips are helpful!

Comments

  1. Katrina the Two Week Traveler says

    I get asked that all the time too! I also take advantage of long weekends, I don’t buy anything I don’t need, I drive an 11 year old car and live within my means and I use credit cards which give me miles so I can get free flights.

    • bethanydickey says

      Yes! It’s not as hard as it may seem once you put in the work. I’m just getting into miles, I’ve only been old enough to get a credit card since November hahah but it seems like an amazing way to get free flights!

  2. Carla says

    Great post! It really is about your priorities when it comes to traveling. Either you make it happen, or you don’t.

    I have a pretty demanding full-time job so I can’t travel for months at a time, however I work in a field where I can do it pretty much anywhere there’s wifi (I’m a programmer). I try to go somewhere new at least once a year — this year I spent a few weeks in South America and it was great! I had to work remotely and take conference calls some of the time I was away, but it was totally worth the trouble!

    As for saving money, it’s tough. I am still trying to kick my shopping habit! For now, bringing lunches from home and cutting back on the alcohol and junk food when out with friends has helped me save quite a bit. I second the point about buying things with a card that gives you air miles. I’m going to use some for my next trip.

    Hi from Toronto 🙂

    • bethanydickey says

      Hi Carla!! Thanks so much for the comment 🙂 That’s so cool that you get the opportunity to work remotely, I think it would be possible for a surprising amount of people! I totally find I spend a crazy amount of money on food too…I’ll buy groceries and then never use them because grabbing a quick lunch out is so much easier. Definitely something to work on!

  3. Sky says

    Even as a fellow traveler, I am impressed by how well you manage to balance everything and travel so much! I am able to travel so much because my responsilities as far as bills and the like are very low. I have car-related expenses, food, and that’s essentially it. I work jobs that are more or less disposable at entry level retail and I also nanny, tutor, and do online work, like you. Sometimes it’s a struggle to not spend all my money on instant gratification items but it’s always worth it in the end!

    • bethanydickey says

      Thank you so much, Sky! I know exactly what you mean; you never regret travel like you regret that impulse pair of shoes!

  4. Brianne says

    Hi!
    I am curious about the virtual assistant job you mentioned. How did you get started with that? I’ve seen other bloggers post about it, and I’m interested in becoming one.
    Thanks,
    Brianne

    • bethanydickey says

      Hi Brianne! I’m planning to write a whole post about this, but my biggest tip would be to offer bloggers free work in exchange for testimonials!

  5. Kim says

    I hope to find a reliable online work so that I can fund my travels, too.
    It’s amazing how you were already financially independent at such a young age!!!

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