How I can afford to travel the world

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When people ask me how I can afford to travel the world, I feel like I need to pull them up a chair, sit them down and hand them a cup of tea – they’re going to be there for quite a while. There is no short answer. It starts with determination, an unwavering focus, a healthy slice of self-belief, and a lot of hard work.

The unquenchable yearning I have to travel the world fills me with such indescribable joy. How beautiful it is to be able to say with absolute certainty that this is the life I was born to lead. To be able to rest my head on my pillow every night and feel the entirety of my being tingle with excitement at what is to come.

Surely this kind of happiness has to come at a price?

Uh huh.

They say that money makes the world go round… well, money makes you go round the world too. Saving to travel the world is a huge task, and for me, has been a life changing undertaking. I spent a lot of time determining our RTW budget, and since then Lee and I have literally rebuilt our lives around our dream.

It’s kind of like having a child. Suddenly all of your priorities change, and something else takes precedent over your decision making. I’m sure there are many other ways to approach saving for travel, but for me, the only way has been to turn my whole life over to the process.

From the moment I first allowed myself to admit my dream, it’s like aliens came down and reprogrammed by brain. To say I am obsessed would not be far off the mark.

My dream.

I talk about it all the time as though it were actually a person. My dream is real and enormous and I love it with a passion as strong as any other I have ever known.

Now, not everyone is going to go all psycho crazy over their RTW dream, but you definitely need to rearrange your priorities and put travel at the top of the list. For me, that meant paying off my debt, selling my stuff and increasing my income.

Anything in life worth having is worth working for.
– Andrew Carnegie

I work a lot for the sake of my dream. I’m talking 80-100 hours a week. I’m tired pretty much all of the time and have a limited social life that I literally have to schedule in my diary, but still I am the happiest I have ever been.

I am determined, focused, driven and fearless in the pursuit of my goal.

I work four jobs to be able to reach my savings target and my week is pretty hectic. Monday to Friday I work as a graphic designer, on Saturday I work in a pizza restaurant and on Sunday I work in a vintage clothing store. Oh, and I babysit 5-6 nights a week on top of all that. It’s not glamorous work and it’s not exactly well paid either, but every penny counts.

I am also midway through the process of selling everything I own. At first I thought it would be difficult to part with all my precious belongings, but the truth is I have actually derived more pleasure from selling them (at a fraction of their original price) than I ever did from buying them.

There really is no easy way of affording to travel, or at least not in my experience. I haven’t inherited money or won the lottery and I don’t have a rich sugar daddy.

What I do have is a stubborn streak a mile long and a very supportive boyfriend, family and friendship group. I prioritise my dream and am willing and able to do what it takes to make it come true.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.
– John R. Wooden

By the time I actually set off for India I will have been working my butt off and saving for a whole year. A very long year. No, easy is about as far from the truth as it gets. But what it is my friends, is worth it.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

paul | walkflypinoy January 14, 2012 at 00:36

great great post! i agree with it completely. it’s really a matter of priorities. i wanted this bad enough. so i worked my *ss off for it, making huge sacrifices along the way. good luck and hopefully see you on the road! 🙂

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Hannah January 14, 2012 at 09:01

Thanks Paul, and well done on making your own dreams come true. I have just read through your blog and look forward to following more of your adventures.

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tunimaal January 14, 2012 at 01:24

It’s been more than 2 years now that I am travelling around the world and every time I tell that to the people I meet, they tell me: “Oh you must be really rich”…. No I am not I am just a guy who is working really hard to make his dreams come true. That’s it. And nothing is impossible.

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Hannah January 14, 2012 at 08:59

“Nothing is impossible” – you are so right. If you are prepared to work hard enough I honestly believe we can achieve pretty much anything 🙂

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Kim January 14, 2012 at 02:10

You are amazing!!! YOU are the one creating this wonderful life of travel for yourself through your dedication and hard work. All of the hours put in now will pay off down the road.

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Hannah January 14, 2012 at 18:05

Thanks Kim! It does feel great, even though it’s exhausting. I know it will make my travels feel all the more special as I can say I have truly earned every second! I really appreciate your wonderful words or encouragement xxx

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tony January 14, 2012 at 21:50

It is amazing how fast a dream about world travel becomes an obsession… next thing you know you are eating in every night, downsizing your apartment, and pooling every last dollar into a travel fund. What is more amazing is how normal it seems once you’ve made the decision!
Why doesn’t everybody do this? How can all of my friends not be as interested in world travel as me? The new normal certainly gives you a different perspective.
The great part is though that once you are on the road you meet so many great fellow travelers who share your same beliefs and ideals. Best of luck counting down the days until September!
P.S. Just met a german girl down in Chile who started her RTW trip with a month in India… said it was the single best country she had seen in her entire journey. Enjoy it!

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Hannah January 15, 2012 at 23:27

You are so right Tony, it feels totally normal, even though I know my friends all think I’m crazy! I question why everybody isn’t out there doing the same thing too – if we were all out there living as our most authentic selves and connecting on such positive levels, think what a difference it would make to the world. Enjoy Chile 🙂

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Sonia B January 15, 2012 at 22:05

Hi Hannah,
Congratulations! I am about to do the same thing. My flight for the US leaves tomorrow where I am meeting a friend to begin our world adventure. I have been paying off debt, selling and saving for the last 6 months too and in a few hours I am about to step off into the unknown. Sooooo excited. Maybe meet you some day when you begin to travel?
Sonia

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Hannah January 15, 2012 at 23:23

Wow, how exciting! Well done for paying off your debt and saving to travel – now you finally get to reap the rewards of all your hard work 🙂 I would love to meet one day – do you have a blog? I wish you all the best for your adventure!

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jan January 15, 2012 at 23:41

I agree with you – all you need to succeed in anything is determination – well done in your debt paying off efforts – I hope you inspire many more people to do so as well. See you on the road.

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Hannah January 16, 2012 at 00:12

Thanks Jan, I really appreciate that. You reminded me of a quote I love: “One determined person can make a difference… a small group of determined people can change the course of history.” – Sonia Johnson. It’s amazing what can be achieved if you set your mind to it 🙂

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Sarahsomewhere January 16, 2012 at 13:05

Good on you Hannah! You are a shining example of someone who has turned their dream into a reality, and proof that with enough focus, dedication, enthusiasm and self belief, dreams do come true. I know all your hard work will pay off, hope you’re taking your vitamins!!! 🙂

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Hannah January 17, 2012 at 18:36

Haha! Lee is always telling me to take vitamins 🙂 Does chocolate count?!

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Vacay Girl March 2, 2012 at 12:57

Aaaah, I will countdown the time with you and wish you nothing but the best. I too plan on getting outta my hum drum life as soon I can. Hopefully in March or May of 2013. And I know exactly what everyone is talking about. Once you have it in your mind that you are doing this everything starts to become lesser and lesser important. A way open right before you and you just follow that path until you get to where you’re going.
Saving, saving, saving is all I can say. Calculate costs as best as you can and go. My plans aren’t RTW plans. It is just moving to Cabo San Lucas and living off of my savings for a year. If I can manage to find me a job 6 months into my stay then I will probably become a permanent resident. So in the meantime, I’m trying all I can to be able to work from home. I’m even getting myself familiar with investing in stocks. Hell, in the process I might find my calling. Ha! But if I succeed in that then I’ll be even happier.
My only dilemma right now is telling my mom my dream. She’s going to freak out, cry and tell me I can’t but it’s what I want to do and she will eventually have to accept it. But the sooner you can voice your plans whether it be to your friends, your goldfish or dog just saying it aloud will help. Some may talk in a tone of discouragement about it. But guess what, I won’t be the first to do this and I won’t be the last. I’ve even talked to realtors in Cabo. So it’s pretty much a reality for me now. There’s no stopping. Happy Journeys to all!

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Hannah March 11, 2012 at 21:06

Your plans sound amazing! I’m sure once your mum is able to see how passionate you are about your dream, she will support your choice and feel proud of your courage to pursue a life less ordinary. My mum hasn’t found it easy… with one daughter already living on the other side of the world, it will be hard for her to have both her babies so far away, but she is always 100% supportive, and I know that she takes great pride in watching us carve out an authentic life for ourselves. I wish you all the best 🙂

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Jonathan Welford April 29, 2012 at 09:16

Well done you. Follow your dream. I did something similar, we set off for a year off, living in Europe, Turkey, Asia and Thailand for a whole year, it was a completely amazing experience.
I worked very hard to pull it off. At 39 I am now debt and mortgage free, I have a wonderful marriage, live and own a house in a great area and a super life and keep adding to my life experiences. I live my life for me, I try not to get swept away with commercial popular culture must haves, I have basic clothes, an elderly car and a fabulous life.
Keep on with your journey, I look forward to following your adventures on here.
Jonathan

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Hannah May 2, 2012 at 21:57

Wow, thank you for your lovely comment Jonathan, and congratulations on successfully realising your dreams – that’s a wonderful story. I think experiencing debt can really help to ground you again and keep you focused on what matters in life. It sounds like you have a great outlook on things and I wish you much happiness 🙂

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Katherine - Kapcha The World July 2, 2012 at 00:55

Fantastic post – I definitely need to step up my A game! Thanks for your honesty – a lot of travel bloggers out there seem to make it all look so easy.

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Sofie February 4, 2013 at 12:36

Love this post. A lot of RTW-travelers have written articles about how they savec for their trip and although they often mention it isn’t easy, I always get the feeling like they expect you to easily pull it off.
This post, however, really gives me the feeling it’s something that costs blood, sweat and tears. And it is so much more realistic for it.

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Sarah - A Traveller's Time April 21, 2013 at 22:49

This post has just reminded me why I’m working 13 hour shifts on a sunny Sunday – thank you! It’s really nice to see how hard you have worked is really paying off. A great post that has given me real encouragement to keep my ass in gear for the next three months before I’m off again 🙂

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Anwar September 23, 2013 at 04:20

As i’ve been bouncing around the web before bed came upon your blog. Great to find it, your writing is fantastic which I do find rare among the blogosphere these days. Best of luck in where your journeys take you. Following your dream is never easy for sure, I’m glad you were able to make it happen though 🙂

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Hannah September 25, 2013 at 09:55

Thank you for your kind words Anwar, I’m so glad you found me! I hope you will continue to follow along 🙂

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