Lisa Owen

At least once a week I get asked how can I afford to travel at least six months a year.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones to be able to do it because of the fact that I have an Australian passport, I’m healthy and a skillset that enables me to get a good job. I also have no mortgage or dependents which means I can pack up and go at any time. For anyone in a similar circumstance who dreams of being able to travel for long periods, this is how I do it.

machu picchu

Save, save, save

Being money savvy is an obvious one but when I say I save, it means I only spend money on the absolute essentials.

I never eat out and always bring my lunch to work. I don’t buy coffee, I don’t go out drinking, I don’t get my hair or nails done, I’m on prepaid phone credit, I take advantage of free wi-fi when I’m out and about, and the only material possessions I buy are for travel such as equipment or lightweight or multipurpose clothing.

The only money I spend week to week is on food from the supermarket or farmer’s markets, petrol, and rent and then I have an annual bill for car registration and insurance. If it’s not essential, or for travel, I don’t buy it. What I do buy for travel is always on sale too – I never pay full price.

I’m lucky to have got a share house only 5km from work and to save some extra dollars, I walk home from work rather than catching the train. I get my exercise and save money!

Before you buy anything material – think about if you really need it or if you would rather spend it exploring Roman ruins, enjoying the beaches and nightlife of Croatia, or seeing the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The way I try to think about it is – I have clothes on my back, a roof over my head, and food in my belly. That’s really all I need and then I can achieve my travel goals.

zipline

Housesit

One way I’ve managed to save up money to travel long term was by housesitting. I generally housesit for people who are going on holidays and need someone to look after their pets, collect their mail and maintain a presence in their home.

Housesitting can be organised through many sites and no money is exchanged. I live in someone’s house for free, and they have someone to look after their house and pets. Housesitting not only means I have a free place to live, but I’m also not paying bills for electricity, water, or Wi-Fi. Some people even leave me food!

Live in share houses

When I’m not housesitting, I rent in share houses. This means I don’t own any furniture and I’ve managed to never go on a lease – meaning I have the freedom to leave at short notice. I never thought I’d be living with four other people in a share house in my 30s, but I do whatever it takes to help me achieve my goal.

waterfalls

Ditch the furniture

I own no furniture – I sold it all before I went to Central America two years ago. Having no furniture means when I head overseas again, my life fits into a handful of boxes that lives in my parent’s garage. I don’t need a storage unit and I can move around easily.

swimming

Take contract work

I often get asked - so do your just quit your job every time you go away? Nope. I always take short term contracts. When I finish the contract I head off again. People wanting short term contracts are few and far between in some industries so recruitment agencies can be quick to snap contractors up. The agency does the leg work to find me a suitable contract based on my skillset.

glacier

Go against the stereotype

If I had a pound for every time someone asked me when I was going to settle down, buy a house and have kids, I’d have a pretty good wad of cash by now. Yes, I’m a woman in my 30s – but that doesn’t mean I want to settle down, buy a house, get a husband and have a couple of children right now just because society says that’s what I should be doing.

I’ve chosen a different path – and I’m 100% happy with that path. I think a house is a long way off – if ever. But to me experiences are way better than possessions. I can afford to travel because I have no debt – I’m not paying off a house or possessions.

norway

Get outdoors

Just because I’m saving hard for my next trip doesn’t mean I’m a hermit and I don’t do anything. I spend time outdoors exercising and socialising – and it’s practically free!

Hiking is my hobby so the only cost is petrol to get there – and because we all carpool the cost is only a few dollars or shouting coffee or snacks. I found some like-minded friends through hiking websites and social media, and every weekend we’re out and about having some awesome outdoor adventures.

santorini

Travel on a budget

Travel doesn’t haven’t to be expensive. It can be cheaper for me to travel in some countries than live in Australia.

I’m not staying in hotels when I travel. I’m sleeping in the same room as at least three other strangers in a hostel dorm. I cook most of my meals – simple and cheap stuff like pasta. If I’m not cooking, I’ll give the street food a try. I get around by public transport. I rarely take taxis. I fly on budget airlines. I take supermarket snacks on long trips. I rarely buy anything at an airport.

When I travelled through South East Asia, I lived on £85 a week – that included accommodation, food, transport and activities. That’s cheaper than my weekly rent in Australia! Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. I usually spend an average on £8-12 a day on accommodation, but sometimes it can be as low as £3. The more I travel, the more people I meet and I sometimes stay with friends I’ve met around the world, so every now and then my accommodation is free!

So this is how I’ve managed to travel for months on end and have been able to afford to do so. With a little bit of planning and budgeting, your travel dreams can be within reach. Go out and explore the world. 

 

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer. Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.

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