How can I afford travelling?

I had a conversation with my friend lately, and he asked how do I get money for travelling. Before I had a chance to answer that, he assumed that probably I got it from my rich parents or I inherited them. When I’ve tried to explain him the real story, I noticed that he wasn’t really interested in the truth. It’s easier to think that people who travel are just lucky, they got the possibilities to travel or someone made that happen for them. People always look for the external factors of success of others, because it makes them feel better about themselves. It’s always easier to think that we can’t do something, because of unlucky world, tough life, bad weather or whatever reason we can imagine.

Why do I write about it? I already had a dozen of conversations like this and the question about money for travelling is one of he most common I’ve been asked. People from different countries, backgrounds and cultures asked me about it. I guess the myth about necessity of being a billionaire to be able to travel is cross-cultural and universal. That’s why I decided to show you how does the ‘money for travelling’ issue work for me. I also want to kill a couple of myths.

Firstly, I have to disappoint you. No, I wasn’t born rich.

I come from a typical Polish middle class, what means that my life was similar to the life of average Pole. I was living in a flat with my parents, who drove one, regular car and they have been saving money for our holiday for a whole year. Even if I wanted to, they weren’t able to sponsor my travels around the world in any way. So, the money doesn’t flow from my ‘rich parent’ as some people would like to assume :)

If not parents, then who? There must be someone, who made that happen for me. Wrong again :) I don’t have a sponsor (yes, I was asked about it many times:)), rich boyfriend or mysterious uncle, who wanted me to explore the world :)

Shortly speaking: I am all alone in this story :) So where does my money come from?

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Secondly: they are not coming from anywhere, I just earn them :)

I’m 28 years old and I’ve been working since I was 16. It’s a pretty long time, more than a half of my life. I’ve started early, because I wanted to have my own savings and go for my dreams, i.e.: travels. I’ve always been passionate about discovering new places, meeting new people and searching for a perfect way of life. Travels gave me all of that. I had a clear goal and that’s what was motivating me for the actions I made. What’s more, I believe in the law of attraction. If you want something badly enough, the opportunities will show up. In my case it was exactly like this.

I’ve been dancing since I was a child. As a teenager I joined the show dance groups, which performed a lot, and I got money for each performance I danced in.

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I loved that with all my heart but it was a hard work too. The group had the trainings 5-6 times a week. Moreover, we performed in different parts of the country in almost every weekend so I spent most of my free time in the car. I had to combine work with my school and daily responsibilities. Many times I came back early in the morning on Monday, changed my clothes and went to school right away.

I had this kind of life for a few years, also when I got into the university. I had my savings, but there was also a price for that. When my friends were partying, I was spending long hours practicing in the dance room.

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At the beginning of my studies I took a job as a waitress. I’ve been working between my lectures or on a night shift. I combined my studies, dance trainings and waitressing for some time. I’m not going to lie that it was easy.

When I was 19, I decided to work abroad during the summer holidays. I wanted to combine sightseeing, holidays and work. I have chosen to find a job in Benelmadena, Spain. I’ve been working there as a waitress on the evening shift for 4 months. When I fished I saved enough money for 3-week trip around south Spain. The feeling that I earned it by myself was super good.

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During my studies, I’ve also taken some jobs but the character of them was diverse. I worked in the Harvard Business Review for a while, editing some articles, as an assistant in UE business projects, and also as psychology coach.

My studies were my passion and I was very involved in what I was doing at the university. I studied a lot and I was doing different projects and I was a getting decent grades. Hence, for the whole studies I’ve been receiving a scholarship.

I was travelling and looking for new challenges. If only there was a chance to study abroad, I knew that is something I would go for. I’ve been studying n South Korea for half a year. It was a UE exchange and I got a full scholarship in euro. Sometimes I skipped small pleasures of the day just to save more money. I’ve also started to teach Koreans Polish language as a private teacher (you would be surprised how many of them were interested in such lessons!).

I was trying to manage my budget in optimal way and it was a good decision, because I saved enough cash to go for a 3-week trip around Philippines. It was my first exotic trip.

I’ve spent the next semester studying in Florence, Italy. In the meantime I wrote a few articles for various newspapers and it gave me an extra income. I used this money to travel around Tuscany and for a short trip to Malta.

When I decided that I want to stay in the world of science, more opportunities emerged. There were international research fellowships, conferences, scientist exchanges and teaching opportunities at many universities abroad. I took all of those opportunities.

I was always fascinated in cross-cultural psychology and I really wanted to continue my research in different places in world. I worked very hard and I managed to receive different grants. The Diamond Grant sponsored by Polish Government was my first big success. It let my collect the data among others in the US. I also presented them on many conferences, e.g. in South Africa. I’ve also had a scholarship in Japan and for 6 months I’ve been working in Australia (thanks to Australian Government Fellowship).

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When I disappeared from Poland for a long months, my friends used to ask me „ How is your holiday? Do you have a nice rest?”. It was funny, because my travels weren’t even close to holidays. Doing a science abroad was a huge challenge, not only because of the language, but also due to the cultural differences. The fact that I was working abroad made it more difficult, stressful and I spent most of my time in front of my laptop or in a laboratory.

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I was travelling only when I finished the project. I could do most of the stuff online so the only thing I needed was an Internet connection. Shortly speaking, I could go wherever I wanted without neglecting my responsibilities.

This is one of the models of earning money for travels. Mine was always combining work with exploration of culture. This is my favorite and I would never change it. It’s because it gives you an opportunity to go deeper into local society and be a part of environment. Being a tourist will never give you an insight like this.

I wrote this post because I wanted to draw you attention to one important issue. There are people who don’t need to work for their dreams because they received a lot from life. And it is OK. We all would like to be in their shoes :) However, focusing on this and grousing that it’s unfair, won’t make a difference in your life. There will always be someone who will have more and better. Apart from this fact, for the first time in history, we are living in the time in which your background or your resources are not the only things that define your future. You can change it by your determination, commitment and smart work. If you are brave enough to use all of them together, then you can create a life you want.

I already have one, but I’ve been working for it so many years and I still do. I won’t lie that it is full of compromise, stress and sometimes fatigue. But I don’t give up, because I do believe that I have a choice. I can give a lot and I receive a lot. In other case, until the end of my life I can be a bystander only and be jealous for what others have. And you know what?

The second choice won’t give you a chance to cuddle an elephant, see the biggest waterfall in the world or meet some amazing and inspirational person from the other part of the globe :)

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At the end of the day the views like this are the best reward for all your effort, Australia, 2015

Just look around Guys. If you like to travel, there are hundred ways to do that (your budget optimization, working abroad, student exchanges, voluntary services etc.). I am pretty sure that each of you can figure out more ideas.

Travelling doesn’t have to mean that you need to resign from your passions, go working abroad forever or sell everything you have and move forward without the plan. It might be a part of your life and develop what you are already doing. This is my way and I don’t regret it at all.
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