As travel begins to open back up, I'm reposting this blog from a few years back for anyone who is itching to travel, bu think they can't afford it. I'm excited for the world to return to normal, but there are still a ton of travel restrictions abroad. Other countries don't have the same access to the vaccine so be conscious that life will not be normal anywhere yet.
But I hope this post inspires you to begin to save and plan for your next trip, whenever you're ready.
Christmas Eve, my cousin asked me about my life, “but how do you do all of these cool things, always have cute clothes, travel all of these places?” I get this question a ton actually and it makes me feel like my life is somehow a magic trick which I find hysterical because if I can travel, literally anyone can.
5 years ago , this 22 year old Long Island girl had a lifelong dream to see Europe. I had waited my whole life, anxiously. I dreamt about it constantly. I wrote stories about it. I held onto that dream for so long it started to feel like a fairytale. I had my life savings (probably like $1,000) and a $10/hour job, but I wanted to go so badly. At the time I was really into the power of visualization and manifesting your reality. So I had bought fake money and I sat my mom down and told her we are going to write all the things we are going to do with this money. I think she thought I was insane, but she did it with me anyway.
Broke and with no one to go with, I decided to journey on my own to Greece with EF College Break. I had never been on a flight alone and I had no idea who I was meeting on the other side of the world but those strangers turned into life long friends.
I always get the same confused look, “you went alone?” Had I not gone alone, this dream would have passed me by and it would have always been this distant, unrealistic fantasy. I couldn’t do that to myself. I needed this. I had so much passion and spent years of my life day dreaming about it.
Going alone wasn’t what scared me. Never going did.
So I went. And then I went again, and again, and again. So far I have seen Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, France, Spain, India, Dubai and soon to be Ireland. I am a normal girl with a normal life. I don’t have sponsors, hotel deals, or a ton of money. I just have the drive to go.
So you’re not sold that traveling is realistic for you. You don’t have the time or the money. You have student loans, rents too high, too much is going on. You’re living paycheck to paycheck. I’ve travelled making $10/hour working 28 hours a week. I was taking home
$1,260 a month and I had almost as much bills as I made money
After I paid…
Student loan: $100/month
Cell phone bill: $82/month
Car payment: $199/month
Car Insurance: $125/month
Gym membership: $10/month
Adobe Creative Cloud: $30/month
I was left me with $314 dollars a month, which never seemed to be in my bank account.
So I created my “Budget Binder” and I wrote down every single thing I spent my money on in one month.
Here’s some things off that list:
Post office Cafe: $17
Old Navy: $14.96
Nicki Minaj song: $1.29
I literally spend more money than I had on absolutely nothing of value (Sorry Nicki.)
That bagel could have been a cafe and cornetto in Florence. My $17 dinner at the P.O could be a dinner in Trastevere. The trip to Marshalls cost MORE than sailing around the cliffs of Santorini. The pizza could have been a bottle of wine in Mykonos. You can spend the same amount of money, just spend it better.
So lets break down my next trip by cost:
My mom, Michelle, Tom, and I are headed to the east coast of Ireland in two weeks from today (yay!) It was Travel Tuesday and I had checked out cheap flights on Sky Scanner and found flights to Ireland roundtrip for ~$400. We booked a 7 day trip that same night.
B&B: $298.50/per person
Car Rental: $118.50
Trip Insurance: $37
Total Cost per person: $894
*not including food, drinks, gas*
If you save for a year that’s $75 a month or $17 a week.
Or take my 12 day trip to Greece. I used my credit card miles to get my $670 flight for free.
- Flight: $0
- Hotels: $466 total
- Athens: $172
- Athens (departure): $30
- Santorini: $144
- Mykonos: $120
- Sailing Trip: $102
- Ferries between Islands: $200
- ATV: $15
- Acropolis Entrance Fees: $25
- Total Cost: $808
- *not including food, drinks, and cabs/bus fare*
That’s $67/month or $15/a week for the trip of a lifetime with my friends.
So if we go back to my budget binder, I was spending $45 a month on junk-food alone. Not including unnecessary spending on shoes and clothes.
So reflect on your life right now, what can you sacrifice in order to travel? Is there a trip to Starbucks, a slice of pizza, a Nicki Minaj song that you can cut out to save $17 a week?
Still a little nervous?
Here are 8 Tips for Planning a Trip to Europe
- Book it and the money will come. I know this sounds like ridiculous advice, but if you constantly worry about having enough money before you book it then you will never have enough money. Did I have $894 dollars sitting there waiting for this trip to Ireland? No. It is only when it’s already booked that you have no choice but to save every dollar because you know the payments are coming. That means you’re more likely to forgo the brunch, the dinner, a new sweater, a Nicki Minaj song. You will go into savings mode because now it’s a necessity.
- Travel Reward Credit Cards. This is a game changer. Whether it’s Venture, Chase Sapphire, Bank of America, get a travel rewards credit card. You also get bonus miles for spending a certain amount in the first month. I have traveled to California, Italy, and Greece for free thanks to these credit cards which has saved me anywhere from $500-700 in flights. You do have to pay an annual fee, but it’s very worth it.
- Get out of the ‘When in Rome” Mindset. If you live luxuriously, it’s no longer “when in Rome” but “that one time in Rome.” Travel is all about budgeting. If you act as if this is your one and only shot to see Europe and you start splurging, you’re taking away your chances for another trip to another place. You’re also creating a mindset that traveling is too expensive and unaffordable. You don’t need the room in the center of the city with the best view or to dine at the places that has the most tags on instagram. You can walk to any beautiful view from your perfectly lovely and affordable Airbnb and dining is incredible everywhere. Don’t fall for the (as my mom would say) “tourist traps.”
- Do your research. My mom was a travel agent and that is how she got to Rome to meet my dad in the first place. She does so much research she could write an entire book of European travel guides. If you research beforehand hand you’ll knows what to see, what not to waste money on, great restaurants for the most affordable price, how to find cheaper tickets to museums & sites, how to use public transportation, how to budget, how to find places that are off the beaten path, but a short bus ride or a quick walk will save you hundreds of dollars. If you get lazy with this and just book what’s convenient, you will probably spend double than if you took the time to research.
- Pack snacks. My suitcase is half snacks. That’s not an exaggeration. Half snacks, half clothes. I have eaten granola bars for breakfast, lunch, or dinner instead of buying a meal.
- Pack Light. Not only is it more convenient to travel when you pack light, but it saves you money on checking your bag especially if you are flying in between countries while you’re over in Europe especially if you’re flying Ryan Air or Easy Jet.
- You would be spending money at home anyway. You can’t think of it as how much money you’re spending while traveling, but think what you would be spending anyway if you were home. As you can see in my budget binder, if I was home I would take a trip to the movies, have dinner with friends, go grocery shopping, get a hair cut, buy a lot of pizza. Just think about how much money you waste in a week and you don’t even know what on. Now you’re just spending it in a more intentional and meaningful way.
- Travel with people who have the same budget as you. If you travel with your fanciest friends without being clear about your budget, you’re doomed. Talk about this beforehand. I will have a banana for breakfast or a granola bar for lunch. I’ll buy the wine from the store instead of paying per glass. See below, we bought our wine from the store for less than 5 euro a bottle & our dinner was probably this home made cheese platter or a 3 Euro gyro
"The next question I get constantly is who takes all of your photos. "
This is easy. Anyone. My mom, friends, strangers who are in my vicinity. I set up my camera. I tell them exactly where I want them to stand, show them how to push a button, and voila! Let’s take these photos below for an example: The first photo was taken by a janitor inside the mosque. The second was taken by my tour guide. Anyone can take a great picture if you give them a little direction and explain your vision.
"But how do you always have new clothes:"
I don’t. I buy pieces that I love and I recycle. I’ve worn this skirt to Coachella, to the desert in Dubai, to Montauk, to Greece. Buy pieces you love and keep wearing them.
And finally, write down your dreams.
About a week ago, I was cleaning out my closets when I came across that stash of fake money I had written my dreams down on. I tucked them away in my “Money for Europe” Jar that was made up entirely of fake money and literal pennies. I had went almost everywhere I had wanted to go. I was actually shocked to see “visit an orphanage and play with kids”. I don’t even remember writing that and if you read my India posts, you know I had absolutely no desire to go to India. Writing down your dreams is vital in making it happen.
So write down a list of all the places you want to go and what you’re going to do there.
It’s amazing to see what was once a dream now became one of your memories.
Traveling has been my biggest dream for as long as I can remember. But I will say this, I see too many inspirational quotes that perpetuate the idea that you need to travel to have a fulfilling life and I just think thats wrong. You have to do whatever makes
feel alive, whatever that may be. Do that. If it happens to be traveling then I hope this was helpful.