Before I begin, let’s set things straight:
1. I was not born rich.
2. I did not inherit funds.
3. My parents do not pay for my travels.
And last, but not least:
4. I do not have a sugar daddy. If I did, I would be staying at 5-star hotels (not hostels and Airbnb) and traveling to the Maldives every other week.
I am a solo female traveler who sold her car, clothes, electronics, and a bunch of other stuff online and at local flea markets in order to travel. I left home with $14,000 and was able to survive for 13 months with only that.
There is nothing that gets my blood boiling as much as these questions:
“Who really pays for your travels?”
“What do you actually do besides takes Instagram photos?”
It’s rude and inconsiderate to assume that I don’t work to have this lifestyle. The assumption takes away from the fact that I do work and deal with everyday struggles like everyone else, even though my lifestyle is nothing like the average 9-5 office worker’s.
It’s actually cheaper for me to travel and keep moving than it is for me to have a place, pay rent, own a car, and pay insurance. Here’s how I do it:
1. Budgeting, saving, and selling
Budgeting is key. I don’t have millions of dollars to spend, so I need to make sure I can manage what I do have. I have to pick and choose what is necessary versus what is needed. Making smart choices leads to saving. So many of us find it almost impossible to save, but a few simple tweaks here and there can go a very long way:
- Put a hold or slow down on the ‘social life’. You’d be surprised how much money you can save if you don’t go out as often.
- Get yourself a coffee machine and stop giving to Starbucks.
- Put aside money from each paycheck and don’t make excuses.
How many of us have stuff we don’t use that’s taking up space in our homes? I sell all the things I don’t use, such as old clothes, old iPods, etc. I sell things on websites like Poshmark, Ebay, and/or even Craigslist. I visit local consignment stores and my local town flea market to sell clothes on the spot. I sell them for cash and save the money for my travels.
2. Credit card points
I book most my flights on credit cards and points. I typically pay for all my flights on credit cards, because you get double the amount of points, and then I just pay it off within the first payment cycle — which then gives me more points! There are credit cards that offer great points system for everyday purchase that you can use for travel later. My top three favorite credit cards for easy points are:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- American Express Gold or Platinum
- Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer Card
Because I’ve accumulated so many miles over the years, I have points and I make sure to use them.
3. Staying with friends
Over the years, I’ve made tons of friends from all around the world with whom I stay while I am traveling. I cook or buy them a couple of pints in return for their couch. This a great way to save money while traveling full-time.
4. Finding a job that allows me to be location-independent.
When I began traveling, I did freelance gigs and I worked the front desk in hostels so I could crash there for a few nights gratis.
Now, I have my own brand, The Social Girl Traveler, so I can work with brands/agencies to create content about a brand or product. I share my stories through my channels with my community/following. It’s how I make the majority of my income. Here are some of the ways I share my content.
- Sponsored posts: My highest following comes from both my Instagram and Facebook accounts. I get paid to share experiences and products on both channels.
- Creating videos: I get paid to tell a story through a video.
- Writing: I get paid to tell stories through my writing. Now, these articles might be published on my website or another website. Either way, I get paid.
- Photography: I’ve picked up a few tricks while traveling and I’ve gotten to learn how to use a camera pretty well. I get paid to share stories and products through my photography.
Another great way I utilize my brand is through, affiliate links — because I have grown a community that trusts me, I sometimes promote product or services from a brand or a company. When these products or services are bought from my community through my links or discount codes, I make a small commission. My followers get a special discount, the company sells the product, and I get a commission to continue to travel and run my business.
I’ve been doing this for almost three years now and I’ve successfully made a living out of it. See, you don’t need an average 9-5 corporate job to make a living and travel the world!