7 Travel Bloggers Reveal How They Travel Despite Student Loan Debt

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Traveling the world – it’s the dream, right?

But if you have student loans, you might think your only option is to spend your days on Instagram, scrolling past the magic you wish you could experience.

The truth, though? With some careful planning and hard work, you can travel with student loans.

For proof – and advice on how to do it – I turned to the pros: seven travel bloggers who’ve managed to explore the world despite more than $250,000 of loans between them.

Here’s their inspiring advice.

1. Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate

A post shared by Kate McCulley (@adventurouskate) on

“When I decided to travel Southeast Asia for seven months, I owed more than $15,000 in student loan debt.

But I didn’t let that stop me – instead, I decided to budget enough money to cover my student loan payments while I was away. It was just another expense that I needed to save up to cover.

I’m fortunate in that my student loans are public, not private, so I was not subject to sky-high interest rates that would have made traveling much more difficult. When my seven-month trip turned into five years of full-time travel, I just kept budgeting my loans as a monthly expense.

I didn’t want to wait until my loans were paid off before I could start traveling – even if I paid them off aggressively, it would have taken years in order to do so. I wasn’t going to delay the opportunity of a lifetime. Paying a little extra in interest made it worth it, in my opinion.”

Follow Kate: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

2. Matt Gibson of XpatMatt

A post shared by Matt Gibson (@xpatmatt) on

“I graduated from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, with about $20,000 in student loans back in 2003. I was eager to travel, but living in Vancouver, I was barely able to afford my living expenses, let alone pay off my loan.

Then, I met a guy who was planning to go teach English in Taiwan. So, I looked into it. It turned out that in Taiwan, an English teacher could save anywhere from $1,000-$3,000 per month.

It sounded ideal, so I bought a plane ticket and flew over in the summer hoping to find work for the beginning of the school year in the fall.

Everything I’d heard had been true. I paid down about $1,000 on my loan every month working about 25 hours per week. In the meantime, I also started my freelance writing career with a series of articles about Taiwan and started my adventure travel blog.

On holidays, groups of us would often travel to places like Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Eventually, I finished paying off my loans and started travel writing and blogging full time.”

Note: Although Gibson taught in Taiwan for six years, he paid off his loans after only three.

Follow Matt: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

3. Stephanie Be of TravelBreak

“Inflation in the millennial generation can make travel and lifestyle difficult – but it forces us to pinpoint our priorities. I attended UCLA with multiple scholarships yet still pay about $300 a month in student loans.

When I graduated in 2012, I decided to defer my loans a year to work while traveling – eventually starting my business. What’s one more year of interest compared to a year of travel?

I’d also sold my car and worked odd jobs until I’d built a career as a freelancer. I wasn’t paying student loans and traveling and shopping for Chanel or driving a Mercedes.

Four years later, I make between $5,000 to $15,000 a month working remotely and traveling. The ‘finding yourself’ concept may seem dreamy and silly, but my personal and professional life was reshaped by that gap year.

If going to UCLA (despite the student debt) was the best decision I’ve ever made, traveling for a year after graduation was the second.”

Follow Stephanie: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

4. Shannon Ullman of Lives Abroad

A post shared by Shannon Ullman (@livesabroad) on

“I thought my life was pretty much over when I looked at my $35,000 student loan balance. After getting over my initial mental crisis, I decided to get creative. While I had always used my extra money to travel throughout college, I would no longer have extra cash.

I was unwilling to give up travel altogether, so I took an online ESL (English as a second language) course and landed a teaching job in China.

My company paid for my apartment, the cost of living in China was cheap, and I was able to make a monthly wage plus supplement it with private tutoring. With all of that together, I was able to pay my student loans, travel around Asia, and save!

After that, I found teaching jobs in Vietnam and Thailand and eventually started freelance writing, allowing me to make money from my laptop while I moved around to different countries and states. I actually just paid the minimum, which was around $150 for about five years.

Then, I moved back home after traveling and really focused on cutting them out. So now, after all of that, they’re down to about $16,300.”

Follow Shannon: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

5. Katelyn Michaud of Diaries of a Wandering Lobster

“Between my undergraduate and master’s degrees, I graduated in 2012 with a total of $44,104 of student loan debt. It wasn’t until I returned home from a vacation in Belize in 2014 that I decided I wanted to take a career break and travel the world.

My goal was to start in January 2016, giving me just over two years to save up money and pay down some of my student loan debt. I started side hustling by teaching fitness classes, starting a travel blog, freelance writing, and selling everything I didn’t need.

With that money, I was able to pay my student loan debt down to about $18,000 – with another $7,000 saved for travel and $3,000 in my emergency fund. I made sure to have enough money in the bank to pay my monthly student loan bill of $300.

I opted to spend a year in Australia on my working holiday visa, which allowed me to work while I traveled in the country. The income I made in Australia helped extend my U.S.-based travel fund and also allowed me to throw a few hundred dollars here and there to finish paying off my undergraduate degree before my 30th birthday.

After almost 18 months of travel, my student loan debt is now at $13,800. Many people think it’s impossible to travel long term with student loan debt, but if you plan ahead and are smart with your money, it is possible.”

Follow Katelyn: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

6. Laura Grace Tarpley of Let’s Go, Tarpley!

A post shared by Laura Grace (@lgtarpley) on

“I didn’t take out any student loans, but my husband, Daniel, did.

We combined our finances when we got married last October. He graduated in 2014 with just under $15,000 in loans. We have seven years to pay the remaining $10,590.

We’ve found two ways to keep the debt from dragging us down while we travel.

First, we integrate work into our adventures. Before we got married, Daniel worked in South Korea for a year and was diligent about making higher loan payments than necessary. We both work as English teachers in China now.

Second, we have side gigs. We both have extra tutoring jobs once or twice per week after school. I’m also a freelance writer and blogger.

All the money I make from writing goes into our American bank account, which we use to pay student loans and other bills. That way, the money we make from teaching in China can go into savings or towards big trips.

Thanks to our side gigs, we were able to take a five-day vacation in Tokyo last month, and I’m currently planning a trip to Beijing!”

Follow Laura: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

7. Kollin Lephart of Every Girl, Everywhere

Traveling with student loans can be extremely tough on a person. When you feel the bite but have responsibilities back home, it makes the lifestyle seem almost impossible. But no worries, ladies and gents; it’s not!

My secrets are living somewhere cheap so you can save, researching the places you stay so you’re getting the best bang for your buck, traveling during the offseason, and working while you travel. Gigs for freelance writing, photography, website design, and more are all available to you and can be found on numerous websites.

Taiwan (where I lived for a year) was so cheap that I saved nearly $10,000 and was able to put that toward my $100,000 student loan. Then, I traveled off the money I made freelancing.

Don’t let debt hold you back – use it as a driving force to push harder so you can live the life you’ve always wanted!”

Follow Kollin: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Inspired to see the world in spite of your loans? Here are a few posts that might help you get started on your journey:

Bon voyage!

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 8.179% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.570% APR to 6.980% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 14, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.570% APR assumes the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.740% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. 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. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  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)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.

5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.57%-8.17% (2.57%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. 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. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have 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, or other student 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 and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval 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.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. 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. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.57% – 6.98%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 5.87%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.80% – 6.22%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.57% – 8.17%6Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
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.