“I can’t believe you get to travel for free!”
This is a sentence uttered to me by a friend of a friend. It is also completely false. I am a freelance writer, and I get paid for a lot of my work, including travel writing. But I pay all the expenses on my trips, and I would be traveling even if I weren’t a freelancer. Seeing the world is a hobby, a passion, but not a career.
Other people might have their trips paid for, usually as sponsored writers/promoters from companies. Some with journalism in their background might go on press trips, and so have their expenses covered that way. Still more will end up as part of social media campaigns, and will have things paid for by tourism boards, or big brands.
So, how does a freelancer afford to go traveling abroad? Read on for some important tips as follow:
1. Start Cutting Expenses
Part of being a freelancer is knowing that money is not always going to be available. Work might slow down, you could end up getting ripped off by a shady client, you have taxes to save for, and of course you could land a project that takes longer than expected to complete. Whatever the case, you should be leaning to cut expenses wherever possible and live a lot leaner.
For example, when I decided to start taking on less work in order to focus on building a new site, I went vegetarian. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but since my family took the leap with me we are saying more than $300 a month on groceries. My spouse and I quit smoking, saving another $200 per month. We only go out to eat once a week now, saving us another $200. We got rid of cable and signed up for Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. There went another $150. Little and big changes alike can have a huge monetary benefit.
2. Start Saving
Money should be going into your savings account every time you get paid. It doesn’t have to be much, but it should be something. I get paid on a weekly basis, and put in 30% of each payment into savings. That is split up into three account: 10% for emergency, 10% for travel, 10% for end of year taxes. It adds up quickly, while still allowing enough money for both bills and pleasurable spending.
3. Take Extra Work When You Can
Every once in awhile you will find yourself with more free time than your workload eats up. Or you might just be wiling to give up a weekend or two in the name of a better payoff later. Do this from time to time, take that extra cash and put it right into your travel fund.
I give up one day a month to working on extra projects. This usually brings me in about $100 extra each time, and so $1,200 more for a big trip every year. Well worth it.
4. Pick affordable travel destinations
They say in Thailand food and accommonodation costs about $20 a day. Choose your destinations wisely, the geoarbitrage way.
5. Exploit Travel Deals
You should always be on the lookout for good travel deals, or to spend less. Which means there are some things you should know.
First, going on the off season is always best for your wallet. Second, you should always look at flights on Incognito or Private Browsing mode, which will keep it from upping the prices in an attempt to get you to panic buy. Finally, you should be following social media profiles for different businesses that will be in the area you are visiting for coupon codes and specials.
6. Go For Free Whenever Possible
My last trip was spent almost entirely at places that didn’t cost a dime to enjoy. Beaches, hills for hiking, public parks, museums…there is a ton to do without spending anything to do it. Before going anywhere, put together a list of free attractions and places to go before taking off.
Include plenty of these in your itinerary, and get the most out of your trip without spending a lot to do it. This also goes for finding deals that allow you to buy one, get one free.
7. Learn To Stretch Your Dollar
Did you know you can travel around Kiev, Ukraine for about $25 per day, including food, lodging and transportation? Or that if you go outside of London and just visit the city during the day, you could save hundreds of pounds per day? How about that Prague offers luxury accommodations that would be about $200 per night anywhere else at $100, and that if you choose to be more modest in your tastes you can easily get by on about $40 a day?
There are a ton of places around the world that are fantastic, but also very low cost. Stay away from the heavier tourist areas, and try somewhere that isn’t always so commonly pushed by guide books. You will save a ton of cash, and still love every second.
8. Work On The Road
A friend of mine traveled through Europe for four months, and while he paid for his tickets using money he had saved before hand, he did everything else from cash he earned while on the road. By keeping to cheaper cities and working as he went, he successfully traveled abroad while freelancing, based mostly on a freelancers salary. He is proof it is possible, even if it takes some careful planning to get it done.
Have some tips? Let us know in the comments.