Two more countries, Australia and Bhutan, have been added to the "Nationalities I've Met" page, bringing the total to 25!
If anyone has told you that traveling is really expensive, ignore them. Traveling can be as cheap or costly as you'd like, particularly in the affordable region of Southeast Asia. All it takes is some motivated saving, which I'll teach you how to do.
For starters, I saved roughly $6000 in 1-2 years for my travels. Why 1-2, you might ask? Well, I did use about $1500 that I'd already saved before I decided to travel. However, most of the money was saved within a year's time. So where did the other $4500 come from? Automated savings.
If you think I quit some high paying job, you're wrong. I was making a very modest salary, actually, just above minimum wage. When every dollar counts, it can be tough saving money. That's where automated savings comes in.
I used Smartypig.com, an online-only savings account, with a fairly competitive interest rate. On Smartypig, you can create as many different savings goals as you'd like. Then you link your checking account to Smartypig, and choose a savings plan. Let's say you get paid every two weeks, and want to save $150 out of every paycheck. You just start a savings goal called "travelling," and tell Smartypig to withdraw $150 every two weeks. This way, you never forget to pay your savings account. You sock away money in a clean, automatic fashion, plus you get an estimated date of meeting your goal!
For example, you decide to save a minimum of $150 from each paycheck, assuming you are paid bi-weekly. That equals 26 paychecks per year:
26 x $150 = $3900
I recommend setting a minimum savings amount per paycheck. Then, on top of that, save any extra money you have left at the end of the month. For example, tell yourself that if your checking account is over $1000 when a given month ends, you will stash every dollar over. So if you have a balance of $1200 on June 1st, you add an additional $200 to your savings account. Every dollar counts. If, for example, you are able to save an average of $50 extra from each paycheck, your savings all of a sudden becomes:
26 x $200 = $5200
Big difference, right? It's all about prioritizing your money for travel. If you receive a birthday or Christmas gift, try to add at least half of it to your savings account. If you can, try to supplement your income with a part-time job. Eat out at restaurants twice a week instead of every day! Honestly, I wasn't eating ramen noodles each meal in order to save. I simply stuck to my plan. The minor changes add up. Saving $25 doesn't seem like a big deal at the time, until you do it 20 times and get to stay another month in a country.
I understand that sometimes you simply cannot save much. In a circumstance where you cannot afford to put away $100 or more per paycheck, just take your time. There is no shame in saving $50 or even $25 every two weeks. It may take longer, but you will eventually accomplish your goal. Also, for whatever reason you may not want to travel for six months straight. If you are on a tight budget, and wanted to go for one month instead of 6:
26 x $75 = $1950
Honestly, $2000 is more than enough for a round trip plane ticket to Thailand, plus a full month's stay. All from saving just $75 per paycheck.
If you can save even more from your job, power to you! Extend your trip to six months, a year, even two years! If you really want to travel, but cannot save much, save anyway - $10 here, $25 there, etc. It's far too easy to underestimate the power of saving. You can do it, and it will have been worth it!
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write music and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.