Tuesday, January 18, 2011

how to afford travel

I'm not one to discuss my finances. It's just not my thing, and I never want to give it too much value, but more than a few people have come forward and asked how in the heck I fund these travel adventures of mine. So, good question, my friends :). First things first... I am so completely not independently wealthy. Let's take a look at a lifetime of international trips and the dinero it took to support them:

  1. US beaches, Mexico & the Caribbean islands: I haven't featured much from these excursions because of the very nature of what they were, family vacations before the age of 15 (except for the Girl Scouts Cruise to the Bahamas). As a result, I really didn't pay for much except for a souvenir or two and have absolutely no food photos.
  2. Spain: This was a Spanish class trip that I took my junior year of high school. In 10 days we went from Madrid to Cordoba to Sevilla to Granada to Costa del Sol and a few places in between. It was this trip that whet my appetite to explore new places, and it was the last half-way independent trip that my parents financially supported. I applied for and received aid for the next one, a special class trip to the Grand Canyon.
  3. South Padre Island, Texas, US: My two best friends and I went away for our last spring break in high school. I borrowed money from my parents to buy the roundtrip flight and book our hotel, and then spent the year before saving up to pay them back and accumulate spending money. As a 17( and 3/4)-year old honors student and head cashier at CVS/pharmacy, it took some time :).
  4. Cuenca, Ecuador - Santiago de Chile - Strasbourg, France: My year of studying abroad a.k.a. ten of the most influential months of my life. Daily living expenses aside, these two semesters cost the same amount as semesters before it; meaning that I was receiving the same grants and scholarships that helped me afford a school like Syracuse University, in addition to the same government loans that took care of the rest. My parents were awfully generous and helped me out some with the cost of living, and galavanting, abroad but I also dipped into my savings that I've acquired since most of my bonds have matured.
  5. Road Trip USA: I truly lived it up this past summer--visiting friends here and here and meeting more here. That being said, however, I did make sure to save a percentage of my paycheck that I received from my paid internship with Quirky for an exploratory/American September and early October. I also, once again, put aside $1,000 from my savings. While driving, I had to be ridiculously stingy and depend on yummy samples to survive.
I know that most people would not do such a thing, and at my age, I certainly have to keep paying back my loans and other future expenses in mind, but, I've given seeing and experiencing the world high priority. To outline what that means, please allow me to give you a few examples: 
  • I haven't been shopping in the past three years. Sure I've purchased a few items as gifts or true necessity, but it has been quite some time since I've spent money on stuff. Any new clothes have been given to me by others, predominately my bargain-hunting mother.
  • I don't buy souvenirs. Ever. Just a couple postcards to send back home to my family because I know how much they appreciate it.
  • I am not always on the move. Although we don't always see eye to eye, my parents are wonderful and have provided me with the opportunity to live at home until I can support myself in a city of my choice. This obviously saves a ton of money in lodging, laundry, and the free meals, although if you're really wondering, I do pay for my own groceries.
  • During this time at which I'm usually planning my next move, I spend wiser. I am a normal 22-year-old young woman, every now and again I wake up in the morning and realize I wasted way more money than planned on a fun night before, yet for the most part, I budget to afford the somewhat expensive experiences that I value. You can read more about how I make eating/going out so often work for me, if you'd like. As for 2011's new year celebration, well, I had one hell of a 2010 and felt that I deserved to go "all out." Splurges are a part of life, especially during this time when I truly can be selfish to a fuller extent than my eventual career and family future will allow. Or so I believe. I really do save when I can.
And all this brings us to today. I'm sitting in a hostel in Bocas del Toro, Panama with friends I made four days ago, and "working." For this reason I thought I'd make this final explanation begin a whole new list...
  1. Central America (con Nomadic Matt): As I've said before, I was beyond nervous to take this "leap of faith" and push off the "real world" even longer. I had been juggling quite a few freelance jobs for the previous two months and was worried I would ruin myself if I were to take a hiatus from the majority of them to take on this one. Thing is, even scared little me could not turn this chance down. I used the funds from the multiple humbling salaries to buy my roundtrip ticket and am working part-time as Matt's video editor and YouTube extraordinaire. I've also continued working for a few other employers because everything is so part-time and although providing a fair salary, Matt isn't covering all of my expenses.
There ya have it, I am neither rolling it nor living the dream, I am simply making my dream happen. I hope that no matter how it is that you aspire to live your life, you are finding ways to do so as well! Please don't ever hesitate to ask if you have any more questions for me :) un besito, voy a la playa.


  1. Danielle, try shopping bank rates too. That may help!

  2. oh money.. wish we could all just live freely without having to worry about it! loved reading about how you pay for your trips :) hope you're enjoying the sunshine!

  3. Danielle I really don't think you know how much I look up to you. (If you don't know already I kind of have been stalking you since last year). This was a really helpful post as I will be on my way to Chile in the fall and am beginning to save every penny I make!

    P.s. who was your host family? I want to request them. :)

  4. I love this! You always surprise me with how honest you are. As someone who's been doing my best to save for big goals, I've been having a little bit of burnout and tempted to just blow it all and go to Neiman Marcus. However, this reminded me that you need to make sacrifices to get to big dreams. Thank you so much for this post.

    And I didn't realize that "Matt" was Nomadic Matt. How exciting!!!

  5. I think you do an amazing job budgeting, probably one of best jobs I've seen. You have recognized what to sacrifice in order to complete your goals and that is something to be very proud of. Def write more of this. People always dream of going around the world and you are actually doing it!

  6. Bryan: Thanks for the tip!

    Tropical Eats: True story. Thank you, dear!

    Aryn Rapp: You're too cute. I'm glad that you're enjoying and benefiting from reading/stalking ;). I lived with the Espinosa's but apparently they are no longer working with SUabroad. I spoke to my host mom last week and she said they've switched schools. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you're paired with a family just as fabulous.

    Cindy: Yay. Thank you! I'm glad that my blog is able to influence you positively. With that mindset, you will reach your big goals eventually. Promise :).

    Dani: Thanks so much! Will do!


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