Travel is something that everyone seems to wish they could do, but few understand how to make it a reality. This is especially true with long term travel, in which one must be creative on the road or have a good amount of savings to sustain themselves. Regardless of what kind of travel you do, there will always be pros and cons, benefits and pitfalls. But every experience is different, from budget (like Yosemite National Park) all the way to luxury (like Western Europe). Here is the cost of different kinds of travel:
This is the traditional kind of travel that people imagine and engage in. An example is flying to Europe, staying in a fancy hotel, eating in restaurants, taking tours, and drinking expensive lattes every day.
Clearly, the cost associated with this kind of travel is immense. At lest $100-200 each night just for the hotel room, $50 a day or more on meals, and of course the cost of entering popular tourist attractions. It's no wonder people feel that long term travel is an activity reserved for the rich or lucky.
If you plan on travelling in luxury, be prepared to save a large amount of cash, unless you have a rich uncle. If, however, you prefer experiences, culture, and more options than traditional "packaged" vacations, you might consider the other kind of travel:
Most people don't know that travelling long term is actually a very viable option. If you can find cheap accomodation, focus on experience rather than consumerism, and prevent yourself from splurging, you can severely lower your cost of travel.
For example, many national parks in the United States allow you to stay in lodges at a reasonable price. An even cheaper option is to camp in a tent or RV (if you already have one) for a discounted nightly rate. Imagine getting up to see the sun rise over the Sierra Mountains, or taking a hike to get some fresh air, knowing you're hardly spending a dime.
Another option for aspiring travelers is to pick up odd jobs as you go along. If you have a skilled trade such as carpentry or mechanical knowledge, you can find a job in many large and small cities alike. Though cultures vary in different parts of the world, people have the same basic needs and desires of food, shelter, and transportation.
Of course, if you don't have specific skills, there are still job options available to you that will allow you to earn an income and see the world at the same time. Working on a cruise ship is an increasingly popular way of doing this. People typically think you must be a professional boat captain, crew member, or chef to work such a job, but that's not true. Cruise ships are like mini-cities. They cater to everything a typical group of people would want on a land hotel: food service (waiters, waitresses, bartenders, managers, dishwashers), cleaning staff, travel agents, entertainment professionals (actors, actresses, light and sound crew), and more. If any of these positions sound like something you could do, a cruise ship could be a great option to fund your travels.
Of course, there is always the option of volunteering. For example, teaching English abroad is a very popular way of supporting travels. Typically, you might teach 20-30 hours per week in exchange for room and board. You won't get rich doing this, but you won't have nearly any travel expenses either.
Another fantastic volunteer options is working at a hostel. In many countries, including the U.S., you can simply show up and inquire about working as a bartender or front desk attendant in exchange for a free bed and often a few daily meals. You can also meet interesting people from all around the world this way.
And if those options aren't enough, you might be interested in working on an organic farm. It is physical but rewarding work. There are certain websites, such as WorkAway, HelpX, and WWOOF that specialize in connecting land-owners, eco-villages, and more with volunteers who exchange their time and effort in exchange for somewhere to lay their head.
Lastly, a laptop computer with an internet connection will allow you infinite options to make money while on the road. Again, you might not get rich doing this at first, but if your goal is sustain your travels, this is a very viable option.
Travel is something that can open the spirit and ignite your sense of adventure. It can also allow you to learn more about your country, other countries, and your self. Long term backpacking travel can be reality, but you must understand the costs. By using the advice above, you can set out on a long-term adventure and cover your costs as well.
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