This was one of my most popular posts during my backpacker time many years ago, I have decided to re-publish it again. I hope you will get a lot out of it.
People are always questioning my financial situation and asking themselves, how the hell can she afford to travel around the world like that? I say it all the time: you don’t need loads of money to get around. Not at all. In some countries, life is even cheaper than at home. You just gotta know how…
All you need is some guts and a little starter cash, which every one of you can earn with a barista job at Starbucks. You do not need to be a big earner to afford to travel around the world. So, how can I afford to travel the world? I will explain quickly in a few paragraphs on how to travel the world on a budget.
Starter cash – distributing newspaper for peanuts – generate money with a
build loan contract – just GO!
When I left Germany for the first time, I booked myself into a language school for 3 months in Australia (okay, here I needed money, shit loads of money). Language schools are expensive, but since I was 12 years old, I distributed the newspaper twice a week in my village and earned about 2 cents per paper. I put my savings into a loan contract (back then, the interests were still pretty good) and saved up about 9,000 Euros over the years.
Australia was always my dream, so I took three months unpaid holiday off work…aaaaand adios amigos! I was off travelling around the world.
After my time was up, coming back to Germany from lotusland wasn’t too cool. Totally different culture, weather, people etc., I won’t go deeper into that right now…All I’m saying is that I caught the travel bug.
All you need to pay for now is the flight ticket to your destination because
there are jobs waiting for you to earn money – GO!
So, I worked a little more in my (3) jobs in Germany. One day, I decided to quit one of my jobs and went back to school for a year to catch up on my English and other stuff I forgot about after I left secondary school, so I would have a chance to get into university.
After doing that for a year, still being in two jobs on the side to save up some coin, the university in Germany accepted me for the summer semester. But it was only October now, so what to do until then? Go back to Australia and learn more English? Yes, please! Can I afford another language school? No.
Money is just enough to buy a flight ticket, which meant I needed a job. I still had some contacts down in Sydney from my first visit. I contacted them and they had good news for me. I was offered to be the activity coordinator and travel agent of the Sydney Beachouse YHA in Collaroy Beach. (Note: It’s located right across the beach…uuuuuuh).
My intention was to stay for about three months. Work, improve my English and then come back to good old Germany to start university. Tourism and Hotel Management was supposed to be my major but guess what? That one never happened! Because I would rather travel around the world!
So, get yourself a job with benefits – earn money and travel around the world
for peanuts at the same time.
I started working as an activity girl and a travel agent. Later on, I became a night manager for the same company. My accommodation was paid for and I earned some coin on the side to pay for my other expenses. I lived in a flat within the hostel with 2 other night managers, which I switched shifts with and there was no need to pay for transportation or anything.
Being a travel agent at the same time, the company allowed me to travel to some places in Australia and Fiji for so much cheaper and sometimes even for free. Since I was working for a youth hostel chain (YHA), and they are all over Australia, I could stay in some other cities for free. So, these jobs allowed me to travel around the world little by little.
After several months, I left Sydney. But not to go back home. Working in a hostel, meeting people from all over the globe who travel around the world and listening to the most bizarre stories of travellers of all age groups put ants in my pants.
I decided I needed to travel around the world first before I went back to cold and boring Germany. I was still holding my working holiday visa in Australia, which is valid for one year. This visa is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. After you had it once, you are not able to apply for it a second time (unless you do three months of farm work in OZ).
While working on the road and being pretty much available for all sorts of
jobs, only one thing is needed: You need to be an open-minded person and
willing to do it
Off I was, from New South Wales, to Victoria, down to Tasmania, up to the Northern Territory, into Queensland and back to the Northern Territory. Phew! What a ride! How did I finance this? The visa is called Work and Travel! I took on several jobs along the way. Amongst others, I worked as a jillaroo on a cattle station in the desert of Alice Springs (accommodation and food were included). Hey, but I never got paid! Choose those farmers carefully…More about this story in another post…
I worked also as a station hand on a crocodile farm (accommodation and food were also included), as a waitress in several restaurants, as a gardener with some really old creepy pervert (he also paid me for the time I was not working…ehm…weird?), as a cleaning lady with some cocaine addicts (I actually got paid, wohooo), as a laundry lady in a hostel (got the bed for free in return), and so on…
So as you can see, there are always ways to make some money or to work for food and housing. Save up some coin, don’t spend it all on beers and goon, and it will bring you to your next destination which will allow you to travel around the world. It’s really as easy as that.
Join a program – Woofing
I did it several times. Woofing stands for Willing Workers of Organic Farms. You don’t earn any money, but you get your bed and three meals a day for free in return for 4-6 hours daily work. Woofing also counts towards your second-year work and holiday visa, if you are intending on applying for it – you just killed two birds with one stone.
I did Woofing on several farms like a horse farm, an apple farm and most exciting… a crocodile farm!
Next destination: Asia, five months. How?
Long story cut short: While I was working on the cattle range in Australia, I was charged by a bull. Yes, a bull actually attacked me and smashed up my foot. I mentioned it earlier, my boss never paid me. Neither did he pay any hospital bills or expenses after I had several operations.
I had to be flown around the country to find a decent doctor because the medical ‘doctors’ at the hospital in Alice Springs were all either interns or beginners and nobody had a clue about anything, really. Great! So I had to see a lawyer, which I paid with the very last money I had. There was no other chance. My boss lied and never had workers compensation, so the bills were incredibly high to pay out of a personal pocket, not to mention from a backpackers pocket.
After weeks of fighting to get my wages and the hospital bills paid, the Australian government stepped in and decided to take over all the costs because my case was a grey area in the Australian law. Phew! I got paid the sum all at once, sold my car, put all the money on the bank and left for Asia. Hello dive courses – here I am!
Next stop: Studying in London
Back to the base. After two years travelling around the world, I returned home. Decided not to study in Germany anymore, because I really really really needed to learn more English in order to live in Australia one day and understand the jokes not 10 minutes after someone made them :-p
Instead, I applied at several universities in England. How the hell can I afford to study and live in England? Tuition fees are £9000 a year, plus living costs in London make you feel dizzy. Very dizzy. Solution: SBB STIPENDIEN. I got myself a scholarship from the German government which pays a nice amount of money each month, straight into my bank account. It’s just enough to cover the tuition fee. And the best thing of all. I don’t need to pay any of this back! (Under the condition I finish the degree). Wow! I want this!
How? You have to have complete an apprenticeship in Germany which acquires a minimum grade point average of 1.8. (1 being the best, 6 being the worst). Then you are eligible to apply. After they accepted you for the program, you have to complete an online test. If you pass that one, you are invited to an interview to Munich. As soon as you are invited to an interview, this is your chance to score now! Bams! Got the scholarship. Thank you very much. Hello London!
Furthermore, I got myself a job as a tour guide in London. Most amazing job ever. You get to travel around the world for free and meet people from all over. I was guiding in Oxford, Cambridge, Stonehenge, sometimes Bath and around Leeds Castle.
There are so many different scholarships for everyone everywhere. You just need to look out for them and take action.
Do some fundraising as a change, different programs allow you to travel in
I went to Africa and climbed Kilimanjaro – the highest freestanding mountain in the world.
A couple of students from Kingston University and I took part in a fundraising project, organised by the charity Dig Deep.
Each of us had to fundraise £2,000 within a couple of months and in return, we got to fly to Tanzania and climb Kilimanjaro. Flights were excluded (here again: sell some coffee at Starbucks). We organised different activities inside and outside the university to bring the cash in. We planned music nights, raffles, sold pizza and cakes, packed bags in supermarkets and annoyed all the friends we had to make a donation into our accounts.
Offer your skills and receive accommodation and
food in return – I volunteered for Dig Deep in Kenya
I did some journalism stuff in Kenya. Why not? It’s right next to Tanzania and I’m flying down there anyway. I volunteered to make movies, interviews and photos for Dig Deep’s media library. I got to know the charity’s projects better (which was VERY important for me, as it is really hard to trust any charities), understood Kenya’s people and their amazing culture. So, this time I could travel around the world for a good cause at the same time.
I said I am studying earlier, so why the hell am I all over the place? Hong Kong, Philippines, Turkey, Australia?
It’s because I took part of the Erasmus Exchange programme my University offers (and many others do too!) If you take part on a programme like that, your home university in England gives you a reduction of the yearly tuition fees by 85%.
If your parents don’t earn enough money, or if you are over 25 and your income is below sum X (hello, here!), you can also apply for the Erasmus grant, which will pay you some support money during your exchange. The amount of money depends on the country you are going to. For Turkey (Istanbul) I received an additional 350 Euro/month.
On top of that, the SBB scholarship also paid me an extra 250 Euro/month for that. Last, but not least, because I am over 25 and my income is lower than low, Kingston University also covers my flight costs from London – Istanbul – Perth and back to London. To be accepted for this Erasmus Programme, your grades need to be decent as well. So, don’t sleep at uni, IF you are present and try to travel around the world while you’re taking part in an exchange programme.
Squeeze in some nice stop-overs and hang out for a bit as you go from place to
place anyway… it ain’t more expensive!
When you fly to Australia, you have to make a stop-over somewhere, as it’s on the other side of the world. This time, my stop-over was in Hong Kong. From Hong Kong, I flew to the Phillippines to take MY time off.
Afterwards, I continued my journey to Perth. The price is nearly THE SAME as if I would fly straight to Perth. There is this cheap airline, Cebu Pacific Air which flies from Hong Kong to Cebu for nothing. For my return flight to Hong Kong, I paid 34€. Check it out!
For Australia, there wasn’t any additional Erasmus grant. How I supported myself over there? Well, there was some “Tina got run over by a bull- money” left on my account.
Choose cheap accommodation
Accommodation is the highest expense you will have (apart from the flight). Obviously, when I do these roundtrips I am not staying in any 5-star resorts or anything like that (yet!). No, just backpacker hostels are affordable for me, but I am happy with that.
Most of the time I stay in shared accommodation. Yes, I share my room with sometimes up to 10 people. The more people, the cheaper. The cheaper you live, the longer your journey will be.
Most of the time, I am out anyways and exploring what’s going on, so no need to pay for expensive hotels. In hostels, you meet like-minded people that you can hang out with too. In Asia, I can afford a whole bungalow for myself. It’s the same price as a shared 6 bedroom in Australia
Hostelworld is a helpful website to find the cheapest hostels and check TripAdvisor for reviews (or bookings).
Start your own business
Of course those crazy jobs, working for other people had to come to an end at some point and I wanted to do my own thing. So I took my career as a travel agent online, built a website and sold a few tours from third parties I used to work with in Australia as an agent.
Shortly after that, or actually, simultaneously I started an educational tour company in London. We took out international students from all around the world to places like Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, Stonehenge and some over to Europe. It was a VERY good experience. However, nothing I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. So I switched my focus to Bali and I am working now on a few projects like Luxury Bali Tours, Girls Kick Ass and The Entertainment Book Bali.
Any more questions on how the hell I manage to travel the world? Please drop me a line. As always, am happy to help.
How do you travel the world?
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