Want to travel but are broke? Don't worry, I'll show you how it is possible and answer the day old question of: “how to start traveling with no money?”
To travel is probably the number one dream for most people. It has a way of curing ignorance and opening your mind to new ideas.
Travel also costs money and when you are repaying student loans that may be the last thing you can afford to do!
But I’m a firm believer and believe that it is a life skill to learn that when is there is a will there is a way.
How Can You Afford To Travel While Paying Off Student Loan Debt?
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The simple answer is that you have to put away money for it on a consistent basis. The more complicated answer is that it shouldn’t interfere with your more important goals like saving money or paying your rent. I want to stress that saving money and putting aside money for travel are two different things!
1. Do research on where you want to go
We start by identifying where you want to go and doing research about how much it will cost. I’m talking about flights, accommodations, transportation, and cost of living. You don’t need to have an exact number, just a rough estimate of how much it will cost you.
For example, when I did my South America research I estimated that I could live there for a month for about $500. I ended up averaging about $600 a month. I was $100 off, but it wasn’t a radical difference that made any serious impact.
On the flip-side, I underestimated how much my road trip with some college buddies would cost and was rather shocked that I spent about $300 more in just one week!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain
2. Figure out your budget
Once you identify some kind of a number, you need to develop a plan for how you’re going to get it. If you have a lot of money saved up and you’re being responsible for repaying student loans then this isn’t really a big issue. However, if you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of money, using your credit card is not the best option to fund your travel.
Instead, I would suggest putting aside a certain amount of money every month. Do so until you meet your goal and can travel without leaving yourself exposed. So if you want to go to Colombia for a month, you should aim for about $800-900 for the whole venture including flights. If you want to go elsewhere like Europe, you will probably need more cash than that unless you are willing to have a much shorter vacation.
So let us suppose that you choose Colombia for $800. Next, you would need to identify how long you are willing to wait before you go. Are you OK with saving money for 6 months, 8 months, 1 year before you go? Set a target date because that will help us determine the next step.
3. Take action and start saving
Now that we know where we are going, how much money we want to spend, and when we want to go, time to execute our plan. As I said earlier, unless you have a lot of money saved up it is probably best to not dip into your savings.
Suppose you earn a modest $2,000 a month after tax. You want to continue making good financial decisions like repaying student loans and saving. You decide you want to save $800 in 6 months to take your dream vacation. This means a monthly savings of $133.33 to meet that goal.
Here is an example of how it can look like:
There are many ways to slice the pie, but this sample version allows us to do a bit of everything. I always list savings as a negative value even though you are still keeping the money in your name. The reason I do this is by putting money aside for your savings, you are taking away from your salary and not using it for regular monthly expenses.
If you happen to live at home and don’t pay rent, you can either meet your travel savings goal faster or use the extra cash to contribute towards repaying student loans. Again the point is that there are many ways to slice the pie no matter what your income is.
4. Start traveling
Go travel and enjoy yourself! If you want to make the most of your money consider staying in cheap hostels which can run anywhere from $5-8 a night.
You would basically be staying in a dorm with a bunch of bunk beds and little privacy, but it frees up your money to take excursions and have other experiences. Plus you meet a lot of cool people in hostels!
It's Possible To Travel While In Debt
In this day and age, there is no reason why anybody can’t enjoy travel especially with cheap living arrangements like Airbnb. It is possible to travel while paying off student loan debt.
If you approach your desire pragmatically you can accomplish multiple goals at once. It is totally possible to take a few trips a year even while you are busy paying off your student loans. So what are you waiting for?
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