HOW DO I AFFORD TO TRAVEL SO MUCH?

11:21:00

We could cut this entire post short and summarise it in two words: I work. If we wanted to add a little pizazz we could say: I work and I save. But realistically where is the fun in that.

One thing people have continuously asked me when I returned from travelling was "How do you afford to travel so much?". Very often this question was not really asked directly, there was a lot of talking behind my back and quite a lot of assumptions too. Now I do understand that I come from a place of privilege: I can use the money I make while I work for myself, I do not have to support my parents or other family members. I live in a country where I am not responsible for my own health insurance. My uni courses and grades allowed to use time outside of studying to work. So if I come across angry in this place this is in no way aimed at people, who really struggle financially, but people from the same economic background as me, who act like I somehow got lucky and to all them I can only say: All of my travels are 100 per cent self funded.

I have been paying for my own travels since I was in high school and got my first job in a café. I worked afternoons, went immediately from school to waitressing and started work every Saturday at 9 am no matter how hungover I was (mems of being able to cope with drinking and working in the next day - oh sweet sixteen). I was taught very early on, that I was responsible to portion out my money myself if I wanted to take trips. And it was an unwritten rule in my family, that any time spend abroad was to be paid by me. So after high school I worked nightshifts in the Mercedes factory in my town for seven weeks and continued to do so every single summer until I was 24. I payed for my trip to Chile, Brazil, Bali and Thailand after high school with the money I made at Mercedes, as a waitress and by working at Zara.


I did not get a scholarship for living in Sweden and I worked an extra job on top of a full time (unpaid) internship in my third semester to afford my semester abroad in England. I paid for all of the trips to see my boyfriend, who lived in Germany and (you guessed it) it was me who paid for the trip to South America after my Bachelor and who balanced an internship, which paid about 400 Euros by continuing to work and even upping my hours at my uni job and renting out my apartment on Airbnb whenever I was not at home. I have worked two jobs since February, commuting between Göttingen and Cologne and sleeping in my friends´ apartments to continue working as a journalist, while keeping my uni job to make sure I had a regular income while writing an 80 page thesis. And yes while I have been working very little over the past four months I have also worked in Bali and Australia offering freelance stories and waitressing. This is not a sob story and I don´t want any sympathy, but I want people to understand that my travels were not just handed to me. They were not paid by my dad, my boyfriend or a sugardaddy, I worked for every single one of them. 

I think it is very interesting how quick people are to diminish this. How other people judge me for how I spend my own money or how they decide to tell themselves: "Well I could never afford this". I think it is funny that people talk behind my back about my "luxurious lifestyle" or about how I don´t understand what the real life is like. I have done shift-work, carried thousands of trays, sacrificed summers, weekends and fun activities with friends to fulfill my dreams of travelling. I have never relied on anyone else to be able to travel and I think that is why I feel so offended, when people do not take these efforts seriously. I have worked hard for every single on of my trips and yes I will enjoy them to the fullest when I am on them.

I think it is also funny how everyone immediately becomes a financial expert, when judging other people´s spending habits. Many people think I am a spoiled brat, who only eats out and shops all the time, where in actuality 2018 was the last year in a long, long time where I was able to just buy clothes when I felt like it/needed them. I make my own food 99,99% of the time and during my Bachelor in Sweden I almost never ate out or went to clubs. I just found my own alternatives. I made my own lunches, we had huge potluck brunches, we did house parties and I brought copious amounts of alcohol every time I went home to Germany. I do not spend a lot of money on make up or skin care. I do my own brows and lashes and only get a hair cut once a year. I own literally two designer pieces and one of them is second hand and the other one is winter boots. I spend my money on things that are important to me: travelling. You may choose to spend your money elsewhere but then don´t come for me, because that money is lacking from your travel funds. 


If you like me come from a middle class family and you can work next to uni, then you can work for your travels and safe money. As easy as that. Travelling is not as expensive as people make it out to be. My flight to Bali were 400 Euros, my flight to Australia another 200 and the flight back home was  520. My roundtrip to Brasil was 730 Euros. Those are the most expensive flights I have ever booked. They may not have been the most comfortable flights, but I am happy to spend an extra hour in an airport or sit a little more cramped if that knocks down some Euros, which I can later spend on food. People have been continuously complaining about how expensive Australia is, which I still think is ridiculous. Yes this country is not Germany, where the cost of living is just insanely low, but for a place where the literal minimum wage is 20 Dollars an hour it is very reasonably priced. Plus the conversion rate from Euros is pretty great at the moment. I buy my groceries at Aldi and spend about 60 Dollars a week on food. I also buy Aldi wine, which is five Dollars a bottle. There is one Dollar coffee at 7/11 and even in nice cafés a latte is four Dollars. Yes eating out is at least 20 dollars every time, but again that is one hour of work or 16 Euros. So I can spend that two or three times a week, when I am working. Just the other day I got workout shorts, flip flops and socks for 40 Dollars or 25 Euros. That is way cheaper than Europe.

Yes travelling here can be expensive and you can spend 40 to 60 dollars on hostels or campgrounds, but you can also get great deals on Airbnb and there is a shit ton of free campgrounds. You need to be smart about your money decisions, but you can still eat out at times, live off other food than pasta with ketchup and go out if you just prioritise. I waitress here, so I make 20 Dollars an hour. Yesterday I worked 8,5 hours and made 170 Dollars. In Germany on minimum wage that would have been less than half. Plus if you chose to work in construction or in a job you were trained for and work weekends you can make up to 45 Dollars an hour. So I can happily make another post about how to save money for travelling or tips for how to do Australia on a budget, but put simply my magic trick to afford to travel is: I work and I save. 

And if you have time to judge other people, belittle their efforts or write them off as spoiled brats you have time to work yourself. You can keep telling yourself I am magically lucky and travelling or realistically anything you want to do is out of your reach, it is simply impossible to achieve it. Or you can stop complaining and gossiping and get off your butt and take steps to fulfill your dreams. The grass is greener where you water it.

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Thanks so much for your lovely comments, constructive criticism and suggestions. I will try to answer all of you!

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