When money isn’t the point: how to overcome your travel funding fears

Like everyone else, I was also worried about financing my travels when I left home. What ifwhat abouthow about and but are some of the words frequently bombing my head every night.

If you have been following my adventures, you’d know that I didn’t have a choice when I first started traveling South America. 

After an ugly break-up while traveling with my ex, I told myself that I will continue seeing the world on my own even if I didn’t have any idea how the hell will I fund this vice. Believe it or not, I arrived Brasil with only $80 in my pocket.

Majority of the people who e-mail me everyday have the same fear — money. I am sure you’re one of them too. But worry not: it’s normal. It’s because you don’t know what’s waiting for you on the other side of the world.

The cost of living in every country in the world is different. You can research about this but believe me, when you come out here, you’ll still get confused with the things you found on the internet.

Things always change. For example, in Argentina, the value of dollar changes everyday so there will never be a reliable article about the dollar situation in this country.

So you have to come here and see it for yourself.

Money is evil and it’s controlling our lives. The funny part is, we let it. South America was the first continent and the greatest travel experience I ever had because I learned that traveling is not about the money.

It’s about the drive, the passion and the enthusiasm. I know someone who’s been saving to travel the world. He saved a lot of money, to be honest.

It took him years to be able to come up with the amount but when the time came, he didn’t have the energy to travel anymore.

What happened to the money? Down the drain to pay for rent, buy a car and food.

I can never change the way you incorporate money with travel but I can try. Here are some important points to understand that money isn’t the point when it comes to traveling.

Goals and Sacrifices

Before you strike out, answer this question: Are you really willing to leave your comfortable life to travel the world? If you said yes, how sure are you?

Most of the people I know tell me they want to travel but they’re scared of a lot of things: giving up their job, mainly. You have to understand that once you do this, there is no turning back.

Why do you want to travel the world anyway? Once you have a clear vision, that’s where the sacrifices come in. Major life changes always pass this phase.

What are your goals? Where do you want to go? What do you want to achieve from this experience? What are your long-term plans?

It might be too overwhelming but you have to think about all these. You have to be 100% sure with your decision and stand by it when the time comes. The following practices will help:

Create a list of clear expectations

And be realistic about it. Do you want to gain new life experiences? Meet people from different walks of life? Live a different lifestyle? Learn a language?

Whatever it is, take it down. Do not limit yourself. There are no right and wrong expectations but you have to understand that there’s no guarantee that everything you’ve listed down will happen in a flash. Some will, some won’t — because that’s how life rolls.

Make a list of the things you’ll be willing to live without

Living a nomadic lifestyle will make your sacrifice a lot of things — lifestyle stability, seeing your family every weekend, having a steady income, pet ownership, living in a backpack with a few pair of jeans, etc.

Skills

I studied fashion for college but here I am, doing a social media management work to be able to keep myself on the road. Like my friends and family, I also questioned why I am doing this job when in fact, I can land on a very good fashion job in Europe.

This is the problem for people who finished school — they often think they’re putting their life to waste if they don’t pursue a career on the field they studied.

WRONG.

I’ve been a bartender, hotel receptionist, waitress, cook, etc just to continue paving the life of travel — and I didn’t feel less nor did I pitied myself for doing such things.

If you want to be a digital nomad, you will never get the chance to practice your professional career (unless you are an artist). Let’s talk skills: what is something you’re really good at?

Something you think can fit the working-from-anywhere-situation? To assist you further, I’ve listed 8 must-have job skills if you want to pursue a nomadic life.

Fun fact: I only found an online job when I was already traveling

Decision Making

If you’re a person who take s*it from every person around you, you will never board that plane. It’s good to ask your friends and family for a second opinion but always remember, the final say has to be from you.

Not many people understand this kind of lifestyle but I know you do (even you are blinded with a lot of things). The only approval you need is from yourself.

Spending some time alone will be a good practice. For example, start eating in restaurants, going to bars randomly in the middle of the night, watching a movie — and you should do all these by yourself.

This will help you think and reflect further. Plus, you’d be traveling alone anyway. Why not practice early?

If you really have troubles doing things by yourself (which I find really impossible), surround yourself with people who share the same passion.

Whenever I feel discouraged about traveling (FYI, I almost booked a ticket to go home last year!), I attend Couchsurfing meet ups to gain insights which help clear my mind.

Join travel groups in your city. Attend the meetings often. People who have the same train of thought will help a lot. Their experiences are valuable!

Relationships

When I started traveling, my relationship with my family became stronger. I was supported all the way. However, I lost touch with my best friends because we don’t think alike.

Most of my friends don’t understand what I am doing yet, even if it’s been two years since I left home. They were even questioning my Couchsurfing meeting daily attendance and the sudden change of Tuesday drinking group.

Though it doesn’t necessarily mean they will send you the “Friendship Over (FO)” message, surely, your group of friends will change.

I made a lot of friends when I traveled and it’s surprising how whenever I find an article about girlfriends on Facebook, the instinct is to tag the friends I met on the road instead of my old friends. Life is so surprising sometimes!

Make the leap. All these are possible if you get up and do something about it. All the good things will happen once you start. But if you stay there, sitting still, your life will be the same.

The “right time” is a state of mind. It doesn’t exist. You can have $10,000 today but you will never know if you are ready to sacrifice and to leave things behind.

Again, the will, the urge and the enthusiasm are more important than the money.

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23 Comments

  1. Lovely article, with some very honest thoughts penned down! Its true, you have to know what you want when you join the nomadic tribe, because there are so many times when you and others will question what you are doing and why. However, if you are strong in your heart and mind that you want to travel and see as much of the world as possible, then it helps a lot in answering those questions!

  2. stings coz’ I’m one of the people who’s always wanted to travel but never had the courage to do so. Now I have 2 kids and life is just wasting me away… I’ll be sure to check out your updates. 😀 Have fun and live the good life!

  3. Money isn’t everything, yet at the same time it makes the world go round (or helps one go around the world).

    Sometimes people just aren’t prepared to sacrifice.

    It’s all about what your true priorities are 🙂

  4. That’s why I love you Trisha. You made lots of sacrfices. You had a very strong comfortable life but then you opted this way. Keep traveling and inspiring! 🙂

  5. yes girl! People give me trouble for this all the time. I was an academic and had the potential to have that good standard job and comfortable life….But I am more comfortable like this, traveling. Id rather scratch by as a digital nomad than anything else…

    Everyone loves the idea of travel, but its beautiful to see people who love the act of travel

  6. I love how honest you are in this article! I am somewhere in between what you do and what most people do, haha. I love having a stable life at home with my job, my apartment, my family and friends…at the same time, I want to see the world! I take as many trips as possible and put mostly all of my free money towards travel. I enjoy having a balance between home life and travel life. I totally agree with you though – people shouldn’t place such a heavy focus on money, career, unless that career is something that truly makes them happy. Too often, people feel obligated to do certain things because “that’s the way it is” without question….without following their true passions.

  7. I really enjoyed your post. Most people don’t think like that and can’t make the sacrifices that are needed to do what you do. They’re too busy keeping up with the Jones’ as it were. Here’s to adventure and happy travels!

  8. I really liked reading your post. Couldn’t agree more. If we want to do something, sometimes we have to do sacrifices to obtain them. I believe traveling is one of them, specially in the beginning of your journey.

  9. Money certainly plays a vital role in life, but if we as travelers are ready to live life a local or to put it mire bluntly.. ” live a nomadic life” it shouldn’t play a vital part. I recently quit my job with one of the world’s top most airline to travel the world. People did criticize my decision. But yeah.. I know what I am doing.. I am on the way to South America with quite a minimum budget.. Awesome post, this would certainly be an answer to those asking ” How would you survive on the road?” Thanks for sharing… Salamat Po 😉

  10. Some people also aren’t honest enough with themselves. Truth is I’m an avid traveller but I like my home comforts and don’t want to be permanently on the road. That said I’ve travelled on a shoestring tons and it’s amazing how much travel is possible on a small budgrt

  11. I totally agree that money is the worst thing on our planet! Money is a man-made thing to help control the world and its very sad! I also do social media management to help earn cash for my travel fund! Its the perfect job while travelling as you can do it anywhere!

  12. I think it is nice to take some time off and go away. Sometimes I take some time off from work, but in the end, I crave the stability of having a fix job and a normal life. So, i am still struggling to find what works best.

  13. I appreciate how straight forward you are in this. It seems like a lot of travel bloggers like to sugar coat things, but I agree with almost everything you said here. I’ve also had the surprising change of friends. It’s interesting, but I honestly feel closer to the people I met abroad and only saw twice in person for the past 5 years, compared to local friends. The connection made through traveling is so strong.

  14. Wow I couldn’t believe you left for Brasil with only $80! But like you said, you just need to use your strengths to earn money when you’re a digital nomad. And I couldn’t agree more with you that living a nomadic lifestyle comes with many sacrifices. It all comes down to what you want in life.

  15. It’s true that if you really want something you will find a way. The same is true with travel. You don’t necessarily have to quit your job and travel full-time. But I find there are so many people who assume that travel is expensive and unreachable. So NOT true!

  16. Ah! You already know how much I love to read you – so I’ll skip that. i do agree with your point that if you are a person who always takes shit from people – yes you will never board that plane. Somewhere down the road – we have to just go and not care. The people who care about your choices and you – will stick around anyways. As far as money is concerned – it comes and goes – and I like saving just enough to take that trip and then keep doing the same over and over again. I think life is a mix of balance and a lot of courage – if we can get hold of the right mixture – then it all just works out fine! 🙂

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