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How I Could Afford to Travel Before the Blog

How I Could Afford to Travel Before the Blog

I’ve traveled a lot for the most part of my life. For the last 10+ years, I made anywhere from 5 to 10 international trips a year while living abroad. It comes as no surprise that a lot of people ask me how I manage to do this. 

I’ve never been rich, neither do I have a rich husband now. My family has never taken me to any luxury resorts, in fact, we visited the same guesthouse by the Polish seaside every year.

For the past 4 years this blog (along with 2 other websites) has been my full-time job and this is how I fund my travels. I’ve been making mid-six figures from it consistently – if you’re thinking of starting a blog find my tips here.

But, I’ve been traveling solo years before I started making any money from the blog. In this post, I tell you how I afford to travel so much before and now.

How I Could Afford to Travel Before the Blog?

Some (probably most) people might assume that I get my funding from some sort of magic sponsor. As a result, they think they’ll never be able to do what I’ve been doing – travel the world. Leave alone study abroad. I must disappoint you, but traveling hasn’t always been my job. At least not from the start.

While it’s possible to be paid to travel, it’s a totally different story than being paid to travel as a blogger when you actually need to do some work, instead of sipping cocktails on the beach all day long. Despite what you may read on some well-known travel blogs, who regularly go on press trips, not all of them are being paid for it.

As for me, I started blogging in 2010, but I only opened Anna Everywhere in 2014. It became my real full-time job in 2015. However, remember that I’ve been traveling on my own since I was 16…

My first solo trip - Egypt 2007
My first SOLO trip – Egypt 2007.

How Did I Travel Before I Started Blogging?

The most common assumption when you travel is that you MUST be rich. But if you buy good cosmetics or go to Starbucks on a daily basis, does anyone automatically assume that you’re rich? No. No one is also asking you who’s paying for all this, but traveling has some kind of financial stigma.

I simply always knew that I wanted to travel. Every time I received some money (we’re talking about a few bucks here and there) for Christmas or birthday, I saved it for later. While it wasn’t much, a dollar here a dollar there, and little by little it all cumulated.

One would think that it’s impossible for a teenager to save that much money. I’ve never been into beauty products (I did my first face mask at the age of 29 haha!) and wasn’t a fan of expensive clothes and I’m still not. Plus, I didn’t go out as much as my friends did.

Where I grew up, the legal age limit for work is 18. Hence, my working opportunities were limited to tutoring and anything that didn’t include being officially hired. I wrote essays for fellow classmates and I tutored younger kids. The moment I turned 18, I started working in hospitality right after high school before heading to college.

Before all the Americans ask “how could you afford college then?”, let me explain. In Europe college is free or costs very little and in some countries (one of them I had a chance to study in) if you have good grades, you’re able to get a scholarship. I basically actually got paid to study!

I was able to save more for my travels and I also found some jobs abroad. There are plenty of opportunities in this world as long as you aren’t picky – many of my friends went on paid Erasmus exchanges abroad, but I decided to want to finish college quicker and then move on to a graduate degree in the UK.

I met some people who thought that working as a waitress or bartender during college was beneath them. I strongly disagree. After all, this doesn’t need to be a career you are starting, it’s just a way to earn money – which ironically allowed me to save over 15k over a few years that I spent on traveling.

Bartending
Bartending in London

During my postgraduate studies in the UK, I’ve always worked at a bar in the evening. With an internship on the side, I was able to buy my flights to Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka in 2010. At first, my friends couldn’t understand why I was working so much. Even more so, why I wanted to go to travel to “weird places”.

I never took out any loans either as it’s not common to get loans in Europe. I was always able to find a way to finance my expenses by working part-time jobs. I’m not going to lie to you: sometimes my schedule looked like this: 8AM-3PM internship, 3:30PM-5PM classes, 5:30PM-11:45PM bartending. It wasn’t fun, but in the end, it paid off.


I recently read an article that readers are getting tired of bloggers who claim that everyone can travel. Articles such as: ‘I sold everything I owned and bought a one-way ticket’, might not be very helpful to everyone. Not all of us have something to sell. I haven’t for instance. I started from zero: no car, no house, not even a regular job at the time I started traveling.


I had no car or a house to sell, and I didn’t embark on an adventure without a plan. In fact, I recently wrote an article on why I’ll never tell you to skip college to travel.

You don’t have to sell your belonging to be able to travel (I had nothing to sell). You can manage to travel by working abroad, or getting a scholarship. Europeans, for instance, can do Erasmus Mundus exchange that will pay for your expenses to study abroad, but there are similar programs for Americans – in fact, there are more opportunities out there these days.


Why Didn’t I Want to “Just Travel”?

I never had any intentions of heading on a long never-ending trip around-the-world trip. I’m generally not a big fan of these sorts of journeys (apart from the fact that I had not much to sell in order to afford it).

During my travels, I saw so many young people who embarked on an adventure to figure out what they want to do and see where things will take them. Not surprisingly, none of them found the answer, because that’s not what traveling is more – in fact, it actually made me look at my dream jobs in a different light and I decided not to pursue them.

I’ve always wanted to have a backup plan. Especially, because at some point every traveler wants to stop somewhere and settle down, and I didn’t want to be left with no opportunities. It might not be in a year, maybe not in your twenties, but look at how many fellow travel bloggers get a base somewhere at some point in their lives.

Right before graduating from college, I realized that instead of spending my money on “just traveling around”, I could also use my education and internship opportunities to travel while doing something beneficial for my future at the same time.

I went to Argentina because I got an internship there, I studied and worked in the Netherlands, I taught English in Mexico.

It might seem less fun than drinking and partying in hostels, but by doing what I did I had a chance to actually get to know the culture of every place I lived in. I didn’t just pass through these countries by seeing only tourist attractions (again, nothing wrong with that per se if you want to enjoy your holidays!).

As a result, I was always earning money and my piggy bank of savings was used towards short trips in the meantime. And I still partied a lot actually 😉

My method of traveling wasn’t very unique or innovative. Many people do it and you can as well – little did I know I was becoming a digital nomad before it became cool. Your situation may be different, but if you really want to travel, you can always find a way to do it and even save money on the side.

Holland 20141
You can do plenty of fun activities when you’re studying or working – like flying Cessna in the Netherlands!

Did I Ever End Up With No Money?

YES, because I’m a huge risk-taker. In 2011, due to some personal reasons, I had to leave Mexico and move back to London. Living on a Mexican salary in Mexico wasn’t a problem, but saving money to live elsewhere was a challenge.

As a result, I got back to London with only 80 GBP to my name. I stayed at my friend’s house for a month, quickly found two jobs, and worked day and night for the first month. Thanks to that, I rented my own place (read: room in a shared flat) fairly quickly. 2 months later I flew to Rio de Janeiro for the Carnival as well…

I’m not saying that you need to always work extremely hard to travel, but if you set your goals and work towards them, everything will work out.

I’m actually very glad I came to London with no money, as it made me more confident. Now I know that I can dig myself out of any situation.

In Rio de Janeiro in February 2012!
In Rio de Janeiro in February 2012!

How Did My Blog Help Me Financially With My Travels?

I recently read a discussion between travel bloggers about the possibilities of sponsored travel. What I read there was horrifying. A lot of bloggers demand to receive everything for free all the time like they’re at least a royal family and refuse to pay even a little bit for anything.

I must agree with an article Liz Carlson wrote that unfortunately, the gimme attitude has become a common thing for travel bloggers. As I’ve done an extensive amount of traveling before the blog, I don’t always write about sponsored trips. Therefore you can find sponsored and not sponsored content on my blog (these days most isn’t sponsored by choice).

I can also recommend a bunch of excellent blogs that won’t feature the next stay at Radisson Blue or touring Phuket beaches again, but can give you tips on hiking in Ethiopia, visiting Eritrea or any other less Instagrammable spots.

You can be a travel blogger and never take a sponsored trip. Spoiler alert: your advice will be better after non-sponsored travel and as a result you’ll make money to spend on your own travels wherever and whenever you want.

In fact, in 2019 I decided to reject a free trip to Antarctica because I thought that it wasn’t my preferred itinerary. I paid 15k on going independently and trust me, it paid off big time.

I still have to eat even if my activities are sponsored...
I still have to eat sometimes even if my activities could be sponsored…

Do I Make Money From My Blog?

Since November 2014 I’ve become a full-time blogger. Ironically, not by choice, but since I was traveling and leading a nomadic lifestyle I just had to make my blog a proper business.

Before you make a ton of money from your blog, there are tons of side things you can do as a blogger: freelance social media consulting, implementing affiliate links, ads, sponsored posts and many other things. You can see some sample income reports I published for my other website.

Read more about monetizing a blog and how do I make money these days here. However, there are many non-blogging ways of making extra income.


HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG? Find out HERE.


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The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway 🙂

Sommer Ryan

Wednesday 29th of July 2020

I totally agree with your point of view Anna. My traveling is always been in a fixed budget (not too lavish) but i didn't miss a single joy. One should know how to make a budget for their traveling plans.

Jon

Thursday 20th of February 2020

Wow, you are such an inspiration to like minded people who don't have a lot of money, but find travel so important for a healthy life and outlook. My wife and I are super frugal and while our friends are out at fancy restaurants and shopping at Department stores we are eating take out chinese and researching our next trip. Now that we can take our kids and expose them to the world the experience has bloomed exponentially. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story, you have such an incredible can-do spirit, best of luck continuing your adventure! :)

Spargle

Wednesday 12th of June 2019

I think a lot of people who are stunned that someone can travel internationally for cheap probably live in the US. It is very expensive for us to travel to anything that isn't North America or South America!

Betty

Tuesday 7th of May 2019

Hello Anna! I must say first I am greatly inspired with your blog.. and i actually find your blog the easily best around here for young travelers.. I just wanted to know how the job of bartending is like? I am a girl of 18.. and I want to do some earning.. which i am going to try for the first time along with studying. Which one would you say between bartender and waitress is better?

Anonymous

Tuesday 7th of May 2019

Hello Anna! I must say first I am greatly inspired with your blog.. and i actually find your blog the easily best around here for young travelers.. I just wanted to know how the job of bartending is like? I am a girl of 18.. and I want to do some earning.. which i am going to try for the first time along with studying. Which one would you say between bartender and waitress is better?

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