Both of us get asked this question all of the time:
How can you guys afford to travel so much?
Sometimes it comes as a statement:
I wish I could afford to travel like you guys.
The truth is…
Neither of us rogues had the fortune of being born into wealthy families. In fact, our families live closer to the opposite end of that spectrum. There are no hidden trust funds, or parents sending us money to cover our unpleasantly expensive Manhattan rent for a while. When we were kids “vacation” meant we didn’t have to go to school, and that’s about it. We’re just you’re average (or maybe not so average) independent women, earning our way through life. Furthermore, neither of us has a particularly well-paying or prestigious job. As a rogue teacher and a rogue filmmaker we’re best categorized as “underpaid” or “starving-artist”, and yet… we still manage!
Curious? Read on…
I’m going to cut to the cold hard truth here and tell you there’s no magic formula, no secret to doing what we do. It’s actually a bit of sacrifice and elbow grease (yes, that’s right kids, I’m about to talk about hard work), but completely and totally worth it (have you seen our pictures?! *travel swoon*). So here it is, our 5 Secrets to affording a jet-setters lifestyle.
FIRST RULE: You need a budget, and not just a “mental” one. If you’re someone who doesn’t have money flowing out of your (or someone else’s) pockets, or growing on a tree in the back yard, then having a cold hard budget is a life saver (and can even stop your hair from graying faster by alleviating all of that money stress!). The wonderful part of technology is how easy it’s made things like keeping a budget! Our recommendation? YNAB – the aptly named acronym: You Need A Budget. They have software and a corresponding app which makes it so easy to keep track of your expenses! I generally don’t like to recommend things that cost money ($6.99) – but considering how much money this will save you when you use it daily, I think it’s absolutely worth it. Give the Free 34 day trial your best effort, watch their method videos, and see how it works. You’ll actually have more money than you think when you’re spending wisely!
SECOND RULE: Learn how to spend wisely. Using YNAB (or whatever budgeting tool works for you) will actually help you do this automatically, but going above and beyond will free up those travel funds. Have you ever tallied how much you spend on food? Coffee? Clothes? Manicures? Random things you don’t need? Once you start tracking these things it may be shocking just how much money is being lost to things that aren’t necessary for survival and don’t make you happier than a day on the beach! If you’ve never been on vacation before it’s hard to fathom now, but trust me, when you’re looking at your toes squidging sand while standing in a sparkling ocean and hydrating with a fresh young coconut in your hand, it’ll feel pretty clear that you didn’t actually need that random t-shirt!
THIRD RULE: Attack your food budget! Okay, so this is part of spending wisely, and it’s also a tough thing to do for those of us who are extremely busy, but it isn’t impossible. Who’s guilty of buying groceries with good intentions but watching them go bad when they keep going out to eat cause it’s easier, faster or everyone else is doing it? Stop! I know this is a hard step to take – but small sacrifices add up. Maybe your egg croissant only costs you $3 at the food cart each morning, but a jar of PB and a loaf of bread only cost $4 altogether and can be breakfast for two weeks… maybe more! Want to get fancy? Add bananas – they’re also super cheap and that’s a healthy breakfast that includes your fruit, grain and protein and you can prep ahead of time! Again, these small sacrifices add up. Need some help with cheap but healthy meal prep options that’re also easy? Check out our friends over at Crunch and Lunch who keep things simple and tasty!
FOURTH RULE: Commit. When all of your friends are going to get coffee, or drinks, or dinner, or whatever… know your budget and commit to it. This is one of the hardest things to do. Who wouldn’t love to constantly spend money on whatever they want? But for those of us who can’t, willpower is our best friend. Start suggesting picnics where people bring their own lunches, or movie nights where you and your friends all make dinner at home together. Get creative. You’ll start saving money without feeling left out and you’ll also get to mix-up what you and your friends do typically. How many times did we see the ladies of SATC at Carrie’s drinking wine? A bunch. Case and point.
Also, it’s alright to go out and order within your budget – so your friends are getting lattes and croissants, but it’s only in your budget for tea… that’s fine. They’re drinking all night but you only budgeted two beers. So be it. It’s hard to be the odd one out when it’s what everyone else is doing… but is everyone else traveling and adventuring like a rogue? Probably not. In that case, we’ll be the oddballs every damn time!
Is all of this too much? That’s alright. There are ways to travel without cutting too many corners.
Fifth Rule? The dreaded second job! I’m actually not sure why so many people dread second jobs so much… we’ve made some of our best friends there! We even met each other there years and years ago! Now, I’m not talking about slaving away 24 hours a day at work just to make one vacation possible. How about a restaurant that you can serve at one or two nights a week? A family that needs a weekend babysitter? Some dog walking after work? Maybe a bit of uber driving one or two nights a week? There are endless opportunities out there to make some extra money, and some of them can be really fun and engaging and well worth the trade off! This is also the route for anyone who doesn’t want to make so many little sacrifices in how to live your day to day life.
Bonus Secret: We also get away with going to beautiful places by making sacrifices in our travel. If a typical hotel room in a vacation destination is around $150 a night, we’re sleeping in the hostel three doors down, where a bunk is $10 a night. Some people take small planes from island to island, we take the local ferries. Get the gist?
And that’s it my friends. We’ve lifted the veil on how we travel so much! Shocking, I know. But like I said, there’s no magic, no secrets, and no rich parents behind us. We just prioritize travel.
If there’s a will, there is a way, and we’ve found our way. We hope these secrets help you find yours too.
Just remember, if the “underpaid” teacher and the “starving-artist” filmmaker can do it, why can’t you?