Fitting travel into your life plan

7 ways to fit travel into your life and budget

They say that when it comes to getting work done, you can pick two of the following three – fast, cheap and good. Yes, any two – but you won’t get all three in one package.

I feel it’s the same with travel.

The typical New Zealand path is to head off to London after getting in a year of two of work experience. It’s a bit of a gamble at the moment – with the economy the way it is it’s a struggle to find good jobs.

A friend who recently booked her one-way ticket (and has now been over there doing random temping work for a couple of months) told me she wasn’t going over in order to further her career, but for an adventure. Which is totally legit. My own case of wanderlust is intensifying by the week. But I’m having trouble facing the possibility of toiling in a café or a mindless cubicle when I’ve been able to do jobs I love ever since graduation.

It’s a wonder anyone can afford to leave this country. Flights to the European or American continents are a couple of grand alone. And our dollar doesn’t exactly go very far in other currencies. That’s what you get when you live at the bottom of the world. Then again, maybe that’s precisely why we want to get out and stretch our feet.

A while back, I read an article about a young professional who took extended leave to do a big trip around Europe. Work hard during the year, accumulate some cash, then take off to sightsee (and presumably, eat fabulous local food). And that is exactly what I want to do.

I’m not in a ladder-climbing kind of field, but I am at this stage reluctant to risk my financial position (BORING! But true) to pack it all in and go live and work abroad. It’s not like I have wads and wads of cash lying about, but I finally feel like I’m on the way to getting my shiz together money-wise.

Some friends are currently in the UK on the traditional OE: none of them have found it easy. Personally, I want to use my savings for a house rather than scraping by while I scrabble for a data entry job living in a hovel in grey London. (Seeing status updates like “It’s 3.30pm and black outside!”  strike pure terror into my heart.) I’m a planner and control freak by nature, and I don’t want to fly thousands of kilometres across the world if I don’t have a damn chance of being happy when I get there.

There are plenty of lifestyle design types bootstrapping it around the world (be they life coaches or business coaches peddling courses and ebooks, writers, web designers, online marketers) in very cheap countries. But what if you actually want to spend time travelling, not just spending your time working in a different place? Or what if you want to come back to a job? To buy a house? What if you want to visit pricey places like western Europe?

I wish I could say I have the answer, but I don’t.

In an ideal world I would be able to work, say, nine months out of the year and spend the rest traveling. Or manage to get some kind of international transfer (but I’m not in a field that’s in demand overseas and it’s certainly not going to score me a lucrative job abroad. The thing about fun jobs is everybody wants to do them; the boring jobs pay well or they wouldn’t attract anyone).

With those options out, how else could one do it?

Work a 9-5 and travel in your allotted holiday time.

Work insanely hard, save up, then take six months or a year off and do all your travelling in one hit.

Set it up so that you can work from anywhere, thus earning money to support yourself while you travel.

Digital nomadism is a thing now, didn’t you know? Lifestyle designers include coaches, writers, developers, designers, marketers and all other manner of freelancers/solopreneurs.

Bootstrap it through WWOOF-ing, Couchsurfing, house-sitting and similar setups with free accommodation

And/or in some cases, working for food/housing.

Get on board with a volunteer programme – there are thousands and thousands out there.

Note that some of them do charge money to set you up with a placement. Once you’re over there, most of your expenses should be covered. Similarly, look into industry programmes that might be available to you – for example, a local organisation here offers a number of unpaid media internships abroad that run for a few months at a time.

Teach English – there are opportunities all over Asia and Europe.

Some teach English overseas programmes will take pretty much anyone with a bachelor’s degree. Or you can get TEFL-certified on your own time and dime. (Personally, I’m not taken by any of the particular countries on offer, but it could definitely be an experience and get me closer to the places I do want to visit.)

Check out grants and scholarships.

In Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething’s Guide to Seeking Adventure, author Colleen Kinder details examples of securing funding to go overseas to conduct your own research projects. No joke.

Get a sweet job with a travel/tour company or something else in the industry.

A friend of mine who did this has gotten to travel to some seriously amazing countries in the name of work.

 How have you managed to fit in your travel?

20 thoughts on “Fitting travel into your life plan

  • Reply Sense January 9, 2013 at 12:30

    But travel will never get easier as you grow olderrrrr!!! In most ways I am so glad I waited so long to get my finances together…it gave me fancy free and worry free days of travel, moves on a whim, and incredible experiences. If you want to travel, I’m convinced it is best to do it while you are young (read: in your twenties). For one thing, your standards and needs only increase, making travel very expensive if you wait. For another, you have lots of time to recover afterward, financially and career-wise. And finally, your body can handle so much more overnight train-ing, endless days of sightseeing, and late nights getting to know new friends (your own age!). Getting a house will always be there. I’m of the mind that Europe travel won’t…at least not the same kind of Europe. Europe at 40 and Europe at 25, I’d imagine, are vastly different experiences. I know which one I’d choose if I could. At this rate, I’ll be at least 40 before I get over there, because your concerns mirror mine at 34. You have at least a decade on me and the freedom to choose which kind of Europe you want!

  • Reply Girl Meets Debt January 9, 2013 at 13:00

    I went to university (for too long) straight out of high school so I haven’t yet had the chance to travel much yet.

    I am however going to Mexico in a few days and I can already tell that I have been bitten by the travel bug. Western Europe is one of my top places to visit but I agree, it’s so expensive!!!

    I don’t think there is an easy answer/solution to travelling to pricey places except for budegting/saving like crazy beforehand…

  • Reply Linda January 9, 2013 at 13:11

    I do the boring approach of fitting travel into my standard vacation allotment. While it is generous by US standards (a total of 30 Paid Time Off or PTO days to be used each year for illness, vacation, etc.) my main limitation to doing as much travel as I want is money. Travel can be quite expensive, and as your previous commentor noted, as you get older you want a bit more comfort. My 45 year old body just can’t take several days without enough sleep due to sitting in the cheap seats on overnight trains or eating greasy fast food every day.

    My last “big” vacation was to Spain in spring 2010 and I was able to keep it pretty cheap because I scored an unheard of airfare (less than $700 US RT) and did very careful research into lodgings and how to visit museums and such for free. My main activities consisted of walking the towns, drinking in the ambiance (architecture and people) and eating tasty yet affordable meals. Last year my vacation was a road trip with two friends. Visiting national parks and splitting hotel and gas three ways really made for an affordable trip.

    My next trip in October will be to Scotland and I was shocked to see that the airfare will cost me $1100 RT this time. (I so wish I could use miles for this trip, but those damn airmiles programs never have seats available unless you have LOTS and LOTS of miles to use; this is why I have over 80K miles on United Airlines and just keep accumulating more.) This will be another trip with a friend, but it will be very posh and involve staying in fancy hotels. It will cost about three times as much as my trip to Spain two years ago, but I’ve saved up a healthy vacation fund so I can afford stuff like this every few years.

    Airfare is going to be your biggest expense for travel to/from NZ, so perhaps you can research ways to fit it into your budget to take a big excursion away every two or three years. I know you have a goal to get a house, but you may change your mind if you travel more and love it. While I do love having a yard and garden, being a homeowner is a hassle in many ways and I think about becoming a renter again in about 5 years.

  • Reply Kelly January 9, 2013 at 14:42

    Interesting post ! I felt when I graduated I wasn’t ready to get straight into my career, I took off without a second thought and haven’t regretted it since , though I am struggling to find a job in my chosen career now that I’ve returned . I worked as a cafe manager so my hours were flexible , I could roster myself off three or four days in a row if I wanted to and subsequently I could travel as much as I wanted within financial reason . I aimed for once a month , sometimes two times.

  • Reply krantcents January 9, 2013 at 18:15

    My wife and I travel every other year overseas. We use frequent flier miles to travel business/first class. Most of our more recent trips were cruises because they are less expensive and you don’t need to worry about the exchange rate.

  • Reply oilandgarlic January 10, 2013 at 07:24

    I definitely had more wanderlust in my 20s and did the backpacking through Europe thing during college, which was one of the best experiences I ever had in life (nearly 3 months in europe). I agree with your first commenter that the sooner/younger you do it, the better in terms of pocketbook and back aches. There’s no way now that I can take those long flights and cheap train rides — it’s not impossible of course but it’s definitely harder on your body as you age. Responsibilities tend to grow, not get smaller, with time. Anyway, after college, I managed to fit travel in around regular work and averaged a “big” international trip about every 2 years until my early-mid 30s. Now i have kids, which makes it hard to travel at all; it’s also harder once you own a house since I’m assuming you would have to spend a lot on a downpayment and the house expenses don’t stop after purchase. I did dream of moving abroad when younger but never did, although that’s not to rule it out in the future. I don’t have huge regrets on this because I felt I got in more travel and saw the world more than many of my friends/family, but in the U.S., many people don’t even own a passport!

  • Reply TB at BlueCollarWorkman January 10, 2013 at 10:01

    Actually, my wife and I don’t really travel. I mean, we live in teh US and travel within our region of the US with some consistency, but that’s pretty cheap. I know a lot of people who love traveling to other countries and I can see the value in it for sure, but I always try and find the value and gratitude for where I am right now. My family hikes a lot, and we often go to the same freaking place every time, but we love it, and it’s nice, and every time we see the place, there’s new things to notice, new people to talk to… I dunno. Maybe I don’t know have the “travel gene” but I try to be content with where I am.

  • Reply Kathleen, Frugal Portland January 10, 2013 at 11:28

    This post has me dreaming! And it makes me wonder — at what point do we give up our dreams? I nearly bought a condo this week — that would severely limit my travel choices for years to come!

  • Reply Budget & the Beach January 10, 2013 at 12:34

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to feel kind of settled. I imagine it might be more difficult for you guys to travel since it seems pretty isolated. Kind of funny in that most people have NZ on their bucket list travel plans. I’m lucky enough to have spent 2 weeks there back in 2001 (best vacation I’ve ever had!). I don’t have that vagabond thing going. I’m a homebody and live in a location which is almost like a vacation to a lot of people. The most I like to be gone is around 2 weeks, so when I had them money (and someday will again), I would like to continue doing that level of travel. 2 weeks here, two weeks there. Whatever fits in time/money wise.

  • Reply Manda January 10, 2013 at 15:13

    I dream of being able to wander the world one country at a time, freely and without worry about career, money, relationships, family, friendships…

    Yeah. It’ll never happen. (I mean, I might be able to somehow wander the world one country at a time, but I will always worry about my boyfriend, family and friends no matter where I am :P) That’s why it’s a dream!

  • Reply Brian January 11, 2013 at 03:57

    We want to live in Europe one day, But are currently focused on building or assets. I think that living/working abroad will wait until we are closer to financial independence. We currently take 2-3 week vacations to the places we are interested in. Germany two years ago and France upcoming this summer. My work also enables me to travel to some cool international destinations a few times a year.

  • Reply Lifestyle Carnival 37th edition | Master the Art of Saving January 13, 2013 at 21:33

    […] @ NZ Muse writes Fitting travel into your life plan – How do you budget for and prioritise […]

  • Reply Link Love, Vol. 1 – Break the Sky January 14, 2013 at 02:46

    […] I have a wonderful job in my chosen field of public relations. But I also adore traveling and have a case of wanderlust I fear will never be satiated. eemusings talks about different ways to fit travel into your life plan. […]

  • Reply Vanessa January 15, 2013 at 04:52

    This post verbalizes everything that I’ve been thinking about for the past, say, year. Should I travel or should I stay in Canada? Should I get a “real” job here or one that will allow me the flexibility to travel? Should I stay in this part of Canada or another? Should I move abroad and get a “real” job? Should I move abroad and get a waitressing/hostel job? So many questions and it’s nerve-wracking to think that I might make the “wrong” decision

  • Reply Good Reads February – THE GREATEST GIFT EVER, tons of quotes, and why MTV doesn’t play music videos anymore. | January 20, 2013 at 08:34

    […] NZ Muse gives some options for fitting travel into your life plan. […]

  • Reply Link time! - Vanessa's Money January 20, 2013 at 12:54

    […] always writes the most eloquent posts. Here’s one where she summarized my struggle with life vs travel […]

  • Reply SavvyFinancialLatina January 23, 2013 at 03:43

    I want to live abroad, but I feel like the older I get, the more responsibilities I have that will take me away from my dream….And I’m only 22.
    I think you should travel abroad before you settle down in a career because it’s harder to step away from the career when you get accustomed to those regular paychecks.
    I have been on a couple of vacations ( only 3), and find after a week of leisure, I’m ready to go back home and get back into my regular routine.

  • Reply THE GREATEST GIFT EVER, tons of quotes, and why MTV doesn’t play music videos anymore. | January 25, 2013 at 05:10

    […] NZ Muse gives some options for fitting travel into your life plan. […]

  • Reply Jason Hull March 29, 2013 at 01:09

    Hey! Sorry it took me so long, but I finally answered the question that you asked me in the comments of my post! Here it is! http://www.hullfinancialplanning.com/if-youre-a-twentysomething-who-wants-to-travel-what-should-you-do/

  • Reply If You're a TwentySomething Who Wants to Travel, What Should You Do? | Hull Financial Planning January 27, 2014 at 06:37

    […] was the case of “eemusings” of the New Zealand Muse, who asked me when I’d written about balancing a safety net with wanderlust the question which […]

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