If you want to travel you need to make money … somehow.
Saving Money to Travel Project Completed —
I often receive emails inquiring about the ways that I make up my travel funds. Sometimes these readers imply that I am overwhelmingly fortunate or in someway special because I am able to travel. I would answer that I only make around five to seven thousand USD a year — by US standards I am not privileged in this regard — but almost every dollar that I make I put into traveling.
Though the mechanisms by which I make this yearly bundle of travel funds never really sat well with me, as I knew that it would be a little difficult for someone to replicate. For years, I felt that I did not have an adequate answer to questions about how someone could make money to travel:
I predominately made up my travel funds by traveling around the USA doing archaeology field work. I made my bean money in a profession that requires a decent amount of education, training, and experience to get into.
In point, I could not just tell a reader to, “go work as an archaeologist,” because the people asking me the questions were often times not archaeologists. I knew that this would be the relative equivalent of a doctor telling someone who wanted to make a lot of money to “just become a doctor.”
It just does not happen this way.
Even though I would often tell readers how to become an archaeologist and how to find field work, I always knew that for 90% of readers this advice was just dust in the wind: it would not be followed. What I needed was a tried and tested mechanism for saving travel funds that ANYBODY who can work legally in the USA could do.
Earlier this summer I faced the prospect of returning to the USA for a relatively extended period of time to get married and for my wife to have our baby. I knew that I would be holed up in Maine for a few months — I needed a project.
I wanted to be able to have a better way to answer inquires about how a person from the USA could make money to travel, I wanted a way to advise anyone with any level of education and amount of work experience as to how they may be able to make and save money to travel the world.
So I began the How to Make and Save Money to Travel Project. During the course of this project I would work jobs around Maine that did not require any particular education to land as well as record how I save the money that I made from these jobs.
I now must call this project completed. I have now returned to working in archaeology and have taken a job that requires specifications, degrees, and specialized experience to do. To do archaeology you need to plan, you need to study, you need to go to university. So after three months the How to Save Money to Travel Project is completed.
And I must say that it was a success.
At the beginning of this project I wanted to prove a theory, I wanted to show that nearly any abled bodied person who lives in the United States of America or another wealthy country could save up enough money to travel the world for 18 months off of 6 months of work.
I worked in Maine for three months and saved $3,500.
I did not include the income that I took from working as a geography research assistant or the money that I make off of Vagabond Journey.com in this tally. As these are both occupations that required an advance set of skills, knowledge, or circumstance to reap returns from. Rather, this $3,500 was the amount of money that I saved from working as a farm hand and a gardener — two jobs that only required grit and endurance rather than any special preset of skills to do.
The money that I made working — as well as the the money that I saved through being frugal — left me with a pot that has $3,500 in it. If I were to do this project for the full six months — the originally specified time — I could have surely taken out $7,000.
$7,000 is enough money to travel the world for a year and a half.
At the conclusion of this project I must say that devising strategies to save money is vastly more important that making money. A lot of people make a lot of money, but few people — almost regardless of income — are able to save money. Making a million dollars a year means nothing if you spend a million dollars a year.
It is my impression that nothing that I do is very special, I have no advantage over any other American. I just want to travel first over every other activity: so I eat bitter, work hard, and do not spend my travel funds.
Each dollar is a measure of time — $15 is one comfortable day of travel. It means more to me to buy travel time than to go out with friends to bars, to have my own private accommodation, to watch cable TV, to have a new car, to eat at restaruants, to go out on dates, to pay money for anything that extends beyond my base neccessities.
Saving money today to travel tomorrow has become a philosophy: the traveler buys time, not things.
You can get the money to travel. You can save the money necessary to travel the world.
If you really want to.
I saved enough money to travel for 9 months from three months of general labor in Maine. I could be off base, but it is my impression that almost anyone who is able to work legally in the USA could do this, too.
My words may now seem gruff or even arrogant, but I feel strongly that ANY American can obtain the resources to travel, I do not think that there are many viable excuses. The traveler is in no way special, is in no way any more privileged than their fellow countrymen, they just want to travel over anything else in the world: they want to buy time, memories, and experiences, rather than things.
$15 equals one comfortable day of traveling, but, ironically, this is a comfort that I must eat bitter to obtain.
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