How I’ve Afforded Travel to Over 100 Countries

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Your questions about how to afford to travel, answered.  Tips, tricks, and strategies for how I’ve afforded travel to over 100 countries!

I travel. A lot. The last few years I make anywhere from 15 to 20 international trips a year. I get a lot of people asking me how I manage to do it; no, I’m not rich, and yes, I fund the majority of my own travel. In this post I tell you how I afford to travel so much.

So just how do I do it? The answer is multi-faceted, but REALLY SIMPLE: I have made travel a lifestyle and create opportunities to see the world using my abilities and resources.

I’ve decided to do a post resuming just how I can afford to travel so much and compiled some information that can hopefully help you to do the same.

For starters, here’s a recent video I made a few of the methods I employ– for a more thorough explanation, read on!

Timing and planning

Timing and planning are SO important for me. I try to book my train/plane tickets way in advance while seats still tend to be cheaper. I avoid travelling during peak periods when I can, however, when I worked as a teacher with fixed time off (during peak periods) this was often difficult. Instead, I used the inflexibility of my schedule to my advantage: since I knew exactly when I would be on vacation, if I found cheap tickets, I would just book them right away. No way I’d miss out on a deal!

When travelling in Europe and Asia I have used a variety of budget airlines and search engines to book my trips. Here are a few:

Asia: Air Asia, Dragon Air, Royal Brunei, Jet Star, Tiger Airways, Zuji, Nok Air, Peach, HK Express, Hong Kong Airlines

Europe:RyanAir, Easy Jet, Sky Europe, Edreams, Swoodoo, Norwegian Air, WOW airlines

Some examples of deals I’ve gotten: I’ve flown between Dublin and Edinburgh for £16 including taxes on RyanAir.  I’ve snagged train tickets from London to Brussels for £69 return. I only paid $600 USD for my ticket from Hong Kong to Seattle a few summers ago and $460 USD for a RETURN ticket from NYC to London on Norwegian Air (probably my best long haul deal to date!)

Financial matters/ management

There’s no secret or gimmick: I am good with my money.  In order to have enough money to travel I operate on a few basic principles:

a) I don’t buy anything I can’t afford to pay for IN CASH.

b) I rarely use my credit card; when I do, I pay the balance in full.

c) I pay all my bills first! After paying my fixed expenses (rent, phone bill etc.) I put a set amount of money into a saving account and DON’T TOUCH IT.

d) After putting money into my savings account after every paycheck, I take out a set amount of cash that I’ll use as spending money between paychecks. I try to use only this cash for my entertainment, transportation, food, and miscellaneous items. I like using cash for everything because it’s easy to monitor how much I’m spending. Doing things this way also mean that I don’t use my credit/debit cards very often.

e) I budget budget budget, and budget realistically! I’ve had stretches where I haven’t been working so it was crucial that I was smart with my money. I’ve always done a rough plan of how much I wanted to spend per month in these instances (when I moved to London in 2011 and didn’t work for 7 months that was about $1200 USD) and tried not to stray from that.


I don’t drink or smoke so I save a lot of money because of that.  I cut down on transportation costs because I’ve lived in cities like (Hong Kong, NYC, and London) where I don’t need a carI walk places when I can, which means that I save on bus and cab fare- my two feet are free! Apart from my camera, laptop, and smartphone, I don’t own any fancy electronics.  When I lived in Hong Kong and owned a TV, I only had basic cable (currently I don’t have cable, only Netflix). I am the queen of the pay as you go phone, and use Skype to call friends and family abroad: I can call a land line in Canada or the States for as little as $0.02 a minute. I spend a lot of money on clothes and am a bit of a clotheshorse, but tend to shop at affordable places like H&M. I don’t mind spending, say, $400 on a leather jacket, because it is a classic, good quality piece that will last me for a long time.  The same goes for shoes. I spend more on footwear, but they are comfortable, timeless, and last long.   I eat out quite a bit, but cut corners here and there by skipping appetizers and dessert and ordering tap water.

Career path and work abroad opportunities

While my current gig as a freelance travel journalist means that I’m on the road for assignments most of the time, my past career in education gave me a lot of time off to travel.  I was a middle and high school teacher who taught English literature and French in international schools around the world.  I initially chose this career path in part because I always knew I wanted to live abroad and have enough time to travel during my holidays, which were abundant. Over my ten year career in education I taught in FranceMexicoLondon, NYC, and Hong Kong, which gave me ample opportunities to travel extensively throughout the regions that I temporarily called home. When I was teaching in London, for example, I took advantage of my prime location in Europe to explore the rest of the continent, often travelling every holiday and 2-3 weekends of every month!

To teach in an international school, you need a specialized degree/certificate that allows you to teach in public elementary and/or secondary schools in your home country.  In Canada, this teaching degree is called a Bachelor of Education, which is typically an 8-month to 2 year program typically done after completing a 4-year university degree.  In the UK, this degree is known as the PGCE, and in Hong Kong it is known as the PGDE. These programs can certify to teach basically any subject that is taught in schools, like Math, or Science, or Art.  One can get a generalist certification to teach primary grades or kindergarten.  I’ve always loved languages so I am certified to teach Grade 7 to 12 English lit and French.

Graduates of these programs can then apply to work in international schools. Recruiting agencies like Search Associates, Council of International Schools, and International Schools Services help qualified elementary/secondary teachers find jobs.

Teaching English as a Second (or Foreign) Language is also a great option to go abroad. There are lots and lots of jobs in Asia, in particular, and lots of programs to get a TEFL or TESL designation certifying you to teach. Dave’s ESL Cafe is a good start for info and job postings for ESL/EFL teaching.

If you are a university student, you can also teach English in France; I did this back in 2006. Click this link for more information.

*I did a video a while back explaining the difference between teaching English as a foreign language and teaching any K-12 subject in an international school… check it out!

Blogging and Freelance Writing

When I started this blog years ago I never would have imagined the opportunities it would yield! I started it out of a love for writing and travel, then morphed into a side business that garnered extra income.  Now I work full time as a travel journalist and host for various media outlets, which is quite frankly a dream come true.

What does that entail exactly? Well, I am sometimes commissioned by brands and tourism boards to produce content (blog posts, feature articles, photos, and videos) or advertise for them.  I am also hired by print and digital publications to write articles.  

Payment for my services works in a variety of ways: in the beginning, when this was merely a side gig, I engaged primarily in straight barter transactions, where I was given accommodation, flights, and experiences in exchange for my services.  However, now that I do this full time, I require payment for any content I produce.

People always ask me how to get paid to travel, but the truth is that the road is long and winding! I’ve been blogging for a loooong time, and have managed to make enough of a name for myself that brands (like Toyota, who hired me to shoot a bunch of travel-themed videos for a campaign) want to work with me.

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