Why I Hate The “How Do You Afford To Travel?” Question
One of the most common questions I get asked is how I afford to travel.
This question is loaded with assumptions about my parents or family funding my trip, me having access to some endless pit of trust fund money, or even god forbid me doing something nefarious in order to gain money.
No joke- I once got accused of being a sex worker in order to gain money for travel. Putting aside how offensive it is to insinuate the only way a female university student can make money is through her body, this question always gets on my nerves.
So let’s get a few things straight so I can finally answer this question, and hopefully prevent it from being asked again in the future.
None of My Travel Is Funded By My Parents
I don’t come from an incredibly wealthy family. It is actually the opposite- I’m currently on a scholarship at university because of financial disadvantage.
“I’m incredibly lucky to have two parents that have always encouraged me to follow my dreams and have always been emotionally supportive of my travels.”
However I’d much rather my parents focus on trying to support my younger siblings than have them funding my travel.
Even at the age of 16, when I headed off on an exchange for three months I had saved $5000 by myself, and my parents helped by paying for my flight.
Outside of birthday money that I myself have put towards my travel, that is the last money I have received from my parents for travel.
All of my travels in the last couple of years, and the 15-month trip that I’m beginning in November have all been funded personally by me.
Travel Is Not Necessarily More Expensive Than Other Things
I’ve got friends that spend hundreds of dollars every year on clothes. I know people that go to the cinema every week, that spend hundreds of dollars on a four hour concert and go to more than one festival per year.
Lots of people got out every weekend which involves club entry, expensive drinks and taxis home.
No one ever asks these people how they afford to do these things!
You wouldn’t ask someone these questions:
‘How do you afford to go to so many concerts?’
‘How do you have the money to go out so much?’
‘How can you spend so much money on clothes?’.
‘How can you buy a new iphone everytime a new one is released?’
So why are you asking me how I afford to travel!
Sure travel can be a large outlay of money. But when you cut your savings and prioritise all of your wants into travel, than it actually isn’t anymore expensive than doing anything else everyone does with their spare time.
Travel Is Not As Expensive As You Think
In a world where the majority of travel advertising is directed towards expensive tours, five star resorts and all inclusive packages, it is easy to see why some of us have formed the misconception that travel is expensive.
There are so many ways in today’s connected world that make travelling cheaper than ever, including shared economy networks like couchsurfing, airbnb and uber.
You have access to hundreds of blog posts, article and forums that will direct you towards cheap accommodation, free activities, the cheapest flights and budget restaurants.
If your ability to save is smaller than mine, you can also prioritise cheaper destinations like the amazing region of Asia rather than more expensive Europe.
For example at the moment Jetstar is having a sale where you can fly return to Phuket from most cities in Australia for $550!
By eating street food or in local restaurants, staying in guesthouses and using local transport you could easily spend two to three weeks travelling across Thailand on $1000-$1500.
That is $2000 for an amazing three weeks in my favourite country in the world. Whilst for some of you this might seem like a huge outlay of money- $2000 is only saving $38 a week for a year. I have friends that spend more money on coffee in a week than that!
I’m Not Lucky!!
I often get told that I’m so ‘lucky’ to be able to travel.
Luck has nothing to do with my ability to travel. I didn’t just win the lottery and land a whole pile of cash to achieve my travel dreams.
The word luck discounts the hundreds of people, including me, out there that work hard to be able to travel.
It ignores the weekends I spent inside the Carsales building earning a paycheck rather than going out with my friends. Or the nights I spent in the library studying so I could maintain my scholarship and have that injection into my travel fund.
While I’m ‘lucky’ enough to have a supportive family, and to have certain opportunities afforded by living in Australia, the rest of it has more to do with hard work and sacrifice than anything else.
But You Can Still Keep Asking Me
At the end of the day, while the how do you afford to travel question gets frustrating, I’ll always be willing to answer it.
The reason is that no matter how you travel, where you travel and when you travel, I believe it has amazing value. And hopefully by continuing to answer that question I continue to help people achieve their own travel goals.
Whenever I tell people how much money I’ve saved a common response I get is ‘That’s enough for a deposit on a house”.
The thing is, I don’t want a house.
“My version of the Australian dream isn’t slaving away to pay a mortgage, but being able to see as much as the world as possible. For me, eating exotic foods, meeting amazing people and experiencing vastly different cultures is far more valuable than any material thing I could buy.”