How to Fund Traveling Around the World (Without Going Broke)

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

female traveler sitting on top of a rock overlooking islands

What’s holding you back from taking your dream trip?

If you’re like most people, your answer is probably money. According to the Simplemost/Don’t Waste Your Money 2017 Travel Survey, more than 52% of respondents said costs were a big source of stress when they travel.

But if travel bloggers have taught us anything, it’s that you don’t have to be rich to travel. I reached out to a few full-time travelers to learn how to fund traveling around the world. Here are their best tips for making long-term travel affordable.

1. Wondering how to fund traveling around the world? Start saving

For most people, travel isn’t a regular expense in their budget. Unlike rent or groceries, you’ve got to prepare for unusual costs such as plane tickets and lodging.

So before hitting the skies, set a savings goal and stick to it. It might take time, but you’ll have the idea of an awesome trip to keep you motivated.

That’s what kept Thea Wingert, co-founder of the travel blog Zen Travellers, saving for four years. Now, she’s about to leave on a 14-month trip around the world.

“I will be funding my trip with savings,” said Wingert. “I saved at least one-third of my paycheck since 2014, racked up points through travel-hacking, [and] kept living costs low.”

To meet a savings goal, it’s important to first establish how much you need to set aside. Only then can you determine how much you need to save on a weekly or monthly basis.

Budgeting apps such as You Need a Budget or Mint could help you track your cash flow. Or you could use a simple spreadsheet to keep a budget. You’ll probably also need to find ways to cut down on spending.

Alexis Chateau, a lifestyle blogger at AlexisChateau.com, took drastic steps to save money.

“[I] gave up my apartment and sold and bartered all my belongings,” said Chateau. “That provided me with enough savings to get started.”

She stayed with friends and family and saved the money she was previously putting toward rent. After a few months, Chateau was ready to embark on a new life of full-time travel.

Although you don’t have to go to this extreme, you can take steps to reduce your expenses. Over time, you’ll save enough to cover travel costs. Plus, you’ll avoid the temptation of taking out a personal loan as a quick fix for covering your travel expenses.

2. Make the most of travel rewards credit cards

Most frequent fliers don’t pay for air travel or hotels entirely on their own. Instead, they make the most of travel rewards credit cards to help with costs.

Travel cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One’s Venture, allow you to earn points on your purchases. These points can then be used for travel expenses.

Some credit cards also reward a one-time bonus worth hundreds of dollars if you can meet a minimum spend goal within a few months of opening your account.

“Look for credit cards that offer generous sign-up bonuses as well as a first year without a fee,” advised Wingert. “Put a reminder in your phone to cancel the card before the free year is up so you avoid paying for it.”

Wingert also suggested taking advantage of referral bonuses.

“Many cards offer referral bonuses to both the person doing the referring and the person receiving the referral,” she said. “My husband earned an extra 10,000 points [on an American Express Business Gold Rewards Card] for referring me. By doing similar things with other cards and bonus programs, we have over 100,000 points each to use on our trip around the world.”

What’s more, some of these credit cards come with perks such as rental car insurance and travel insurance.

Of course, you have to be able to use the credit card responsibly. Only by paying off your balance in full will you avoid interest charges every month.

“Credit cards are an amazing way to rack up points that can be used to score freebies or big discounts on travel, but they’re not for everyone,” said Wingert. “If you struggle with paying off your balance each month, for example, it is likely not the best strategy for you.”

But if you can find a credit card that offers rewards — and use it responsibly — then you could get help funding your trips.

3. Make money through online freelance gigs

If you decide to travel for a long time, your savings won’t last forever. That’s why travel bloggers recommend making money online while you’re abroad.

“Your laptop or other device is the key,” said David Bakke, personal finance expert at Money Crashers. “You can make money by blogging, utilizing affiliate marketing, offering a virtual consulting service in an area where you’re an expert, or [doing] general Internet marketing.”

Shawna Newman, the creator of Active Weekender, took a similar approach to her year of travel. She learned how to fund traveling around the world as a writer and search engine optimization (SEO) expert.

“[I] earned along the way with freelance writing gigs … and some freelance SEO work,” she said. “I think the freelance writing gigs are the easiest way to earn on the road.”

Newman suggested searching WriterAccess for freelance writing gigs. But you might also find freelance opportunities on sites such as Fiverr, Upwork, or Freelancer. You can also search for remote job opportunities on sites such as We Work Remotely or FlexJobs.

If you’re worried you don’t have the skills for online work, try taking a course online through Udemy or another learning marketplace. Once you figure out your niche, you’ll find there are plenty of ways to make money online.

4. Teach English online while you travel

Another option is to teach English online to international students.

“If you’re a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree and some teaching or tutoring experience, you are eligible to teach English online with many companies,” said Nicola Wynn, an English teacher and traveler who blogs at See Nic Wander. “Most companies offer flexible scheduling so you can choose to work as much or as little as you want while traveling.”

Lauren Kubik of Long Lost Lauren also takes this approach to finance her travels around Thailand.

“I am teaching ESL [English as a second language] online and luckily it’s a huge help and my main gig right now in Southeast Asia,” said Kubik. “I have done this since July 2017 and on average make about $300 to $500 per month.”

Being a native English speaker might be all you need to snag an online tutoring job. To boost your credentials, you could also get your teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) certificate.

5. Get a part- or full-time job in another country

If you don’t love online work, you can combine work and travel with a job in another country. International schools all over the world, for instance, hire native English speakers as on-site language teachers.

You could also search for part-time local jobs once you arrive at your destination. That’s what Jen and Ryan Ambrose, the travel bloggers behind Passions and Places, do.

“I’m a yoga teacher and have taught in the places we’ve visited, and Ryan has done photography and social media for local businesses on a work exchange basis,” said Jen. “For us, the key has been to use a mix of approaches.”

Bakke similarly recommended looking for offline gigs to make money in other countries.

“There are plenty of offline options available, such as working part-time jobs in the country you’re visiting, landing a teaching or translating job, or even couchsurfing, which doesn’t make you money, but lets you eliminate lodging costs from your budget,” said Bakke.

He added that the costs of living abroad might be a lot lower than what you’re used to at home. As a result, you won’t need to work as much as you might think while you’re traveling. A part-time local job teaching, translating, or managing social media might be all you need to fund your travels.

Find ways to reduce travel costs

Although saving and making money is important as you learn how to fund traveling around the world, don’t forget about lowering your overall costs.

Housesitting can help you get free lodging while making a connection with a local family, for example. You can also travel to inexpensive destinations where your money goes far (think Berlin over London or Bangkok over Singapore).

In the end, there are lots of ways you can bring travel into your lifestyle without breaking the bank. You might even decide to hit the road indefinitely and become a full-fledged digital nomad.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal LoansFixed rates from 6.199% APR to 15.365% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.145% APR to 14.685% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of June 15, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.145% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.97% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply:SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

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  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
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  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.