My last post was about why I decided to take this year off of school to travel Europe. In response, I was asked about how I am able to do such a thing, specifically, financially.
Let me begin my stressing that I am not independently wealthy no am I supported by a large sum of money that was passed down to me, family, etc. The traveling that I have done, and continue to do, is made possible by nothing other than hard work and determination.
See how happy Crumble is?? He inspires me.
Trip-planning began about 9 or 10 months before departure, working long hours and saving every second penny I made. I also have a student loan to pay for school. I started working in April and continued until the first of October, four days before I left. I lived with my mom in the country to avoid extra expenditures such as Starbucks, shopping, and partying.
Before leaving, I made sure to get in touch with my fabulous friends I met from my previous trip in 2012 to stay with them for a few days at a time while job hunting. I must of course mention Couchsurfing, the online community of travelers which is what made my trip back in 2012 possible. It is an amazing culture-sharing opportunity, allowing travelers to stay with locals for free for a day or two at a time instead of hostels and hotels. To be clear, Couchsurfing is anti free-loading. The whole point is to meet locals, stay with them, discover their culture and share your own, whether that be through stories, cooking, dance or music. It is not meant for a place to come, sleep and leave.
Some of the amazing people I meet through Couchsurfing….
Some may say I’m lucky to have friends to stay with in Europe, but it was through my own decision making that created that luck. When I left Europe in 2012 I wasn’t planning to come back right away, but I stayed in touch with those friends out of pure desire. It because of the help I gave and the things I shared at that time that they invited me back into their home.
In between staying with these friends I continue to couchsurf. I use Covoiturage, a cheap ride share/carpooling program. For every day living costs I use the money I saved at home. Usually the couchsurfers are in the same boat as I am so instead of eating out we buy groceries and cook our meals. There are also people who have travelers stay with them for free in exchange for a few hours of work a day, which I did for two weeks. There are many jobs like that on farms and as an Au-pair (nanny). I am paying off my student loan while I’m here (no option since I’m not in school nor in Canada) so I have no other choice but to find a job that pays.
Cheap food, like this wonderful truck parked on the road, is the best food.
Essentially it is not luck that brought me to Europe this year. I am not lucky, I am travel-obsessed and determined to live my life to the fullest. I made the choice to take an entire year off school, save my money, contact people and jump on the plane. Maybe I’m lucky when it comes to having a family that is super supportive, but I did my fair share of convincing that the trip was a good idea and so far, I’m right. I truly believe that if you want something bad enough (keeping in reality ie going back in time might not happen, sorry), it can be made possible. It just takes a lot of hard work, creativity and patience. So live your dream! Even YOU can do it too.
”You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to achieve; it is their mistake and not your failing.”