I have traveled since I was young. Traveling is in my blood. Loving it is an understatement.
Do I love airplanes? Not particularly. How about long road trips? Eh, not really.
Yet once I’m there, I am in love. I have been to every state on the east coast, covered most of the midwest, and multiple states on the west coast. I was lucky enough to have a parent that encouraged traveling, immersing in culture, and trying new foods, places, and customs. I have had the travel bug for as long as I can remember.
Yet, here I am. Teaching. Adulting. How can I afford to visit different places around the world on my little teacher salary? Sure, when I was living with my folks I had the chance to go to Germany, France, Canada, England, and over half of the U.S. But now? How can I do it now?
It’s not easy. Plain and simple.
It takes planning, budgeting, and LOTS of research. So where have I been since I left the nest and entered the working world? Over the past few years I have visited:
- New York City, NY
- North Carolina (multiple times and locations)
- San Francisco, CA
- Ocean City, NJ
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Las Vegas, NV (almost every year at this rate)
What’s next you may ask? Italy. Booked and Paid.
So, let’s get a few things straight–I am not making millions at teaching. Sure, I sell things on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I’m not making a salary off of it. During my first year of teaching, I made a whopping $23K. Yup. After moving districts I was able to increase that salary, but it’s not raining money in my household.
So how do I do it?
- Set a certain amount/percentage to be taken out of your paycheck per pay to put towards travel. This may be $20; it may be $100, but it’s training your mind and willpower to save the money. For me, I had to transfer this money to an entirely separate bank account that I could not easily access. Over the course of a year, you will have enough money saved to take you somewhere awesome.
- Look at companies like Groupon, Funjet, Kayak, and even Orbitz. These places allow for vacation packages–flight and hotel. Conveniently, these places also give you the option to look at reviews, proximity to local food joints, and even distance to the nearest airport/train station. Websites like Groupon allow you to get great deals on awesome vacation packages; just make sure you read the fine print. If you’re not around a major city, you can have your flight altered for a fee. Talk to a representative for more information.
- Research. Research. Research. When my husband and I planned our Italian Getaway, we were immediately taken aback by the outrageous prices per person. I put my head in my hands and wondered if I was ever going to return to Europe. We spent days researching, browsing websites, and looking at prices. My husband soon realized that a very expensive week was followed by an insanely cheap week through Orbitz. After searching week by week from May to August, we found the perfect week that allowed us 5 days and nights in Italy in a 4.2 star hotel with flight for $700 per person. Woah! It was insane. We booked it immediately. Look for trends in prices, seasons, and even flash deals on the websites listed above.
- Sign up for offers through hotels. Sounds crazy and will fill your email box with junk mail? I’ll be honest–yes. Yet there always seems to be a gold nugget hiding in the list of unopened emails. During my first visit to Las Vegas, I went through an offer to stay at the Wynn Hotel for free! Once I went to Vegas and signed up at multiple hotels, those rewards and offers continued. Through this, I was able to see Fabulous Las Vegas multiple times in the course of a few short years, because I only had to pay for airfare and food.
- Network. Staying in contact with friends and traveling with a buddy has allowed me to visit new places for a fraction of the cost. I visited NJ, NC, CA, NYC, and PA because of friends chipping in together. We slept in the same small bed, but we didn’t care. We were able to see a new city for $50-$100. On the other hand, having friends and family in different parts of the country also allowed for new traveling experiences.
- Air BnB. When I was in San Francisco, I had my first experience with Air BnB. Although it was different from staying in a nice hotel, it was well worth the money for a few nights of sleep. The host was kind and provided a clean place to sleep with a private bathroom. Quite honestly, my husband and I never saw our host, and we were in and out so often that the room was a quick place for us to catch up on sleep and off we went again. It was half the price of a hotel in the city, and we were able to walk to various restaurants and shopping. To get into the city, we needed an Uber but it was close enough that it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
- Exercise and Plan to Walk! As a traveler, I have found that taxis and transportation are easily where the money goes down the tubes. Vegas–walked everywhere. I was averaging 15 miles of walking per day and only took a cab at the very end of the night when my feet could no longer handle it. London–walked. Paris–oh good lord, I walked everywhere. If you’re in a city that you can easily walk around and get to point B from point A, get on a good pair of shoes and walk. Burn off those wine and chocolate calories through the city if you can.
- Transportation Options. So what if I can’t physically walk for huge amounts of time or my hotel/room is too far away? How do I find a cheap flight? Here are some options:
- Bus--How did I get to NYC? Bus. I took a bus overnight there and back. Sure I didn’t get the most restful sleep of my life, but it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than a hotel. Just invest in some coffee when you arrive in your desired city. Bus transportation also is a great option in bigger cities to avoid outrageous cab costs.
- Train–Although trains are available in the U.S., it is generally as long as driving and not always as cheap as one dreams. However, in Europe, not only was this an affordable option, but it allowed me time to relax and take in the scenery that I otherwise would have never seen.
- Airline Promos--Look at flights on Wow Air or Skiplagged. These places offer affordable flights in specific time windows or find loopholes in the airfare pricing to give you the best deals.
- Flight and Hotel Packages–Want to have your flight paired with your housing for the week? Check out vacation packages on a multitude of websites. Personally, I have found amazing packages through Groupon, Funjet, and Orbitz. Not only does it help eliminate costs, but it also helps eliminate the headache of planning every detail.
- Uber/Lyft–In a big city and the distance is too far to walk? I have been in this situation before. Uber and Lyft offer options much cheaper than a taxi or renting a car and generally give you the cost up front. The drivers are usually friendly, and when splitting the cost with friends, it is the way to go with transportation. **Train station from France to Germany**
- Make side Money. As teachers specifically, we have options to do tutoring on the side, sell items on Teachers Pay Teachers, or even begin tutoring kids from other countries via Skype. I do not make tons of money off of Teachers Pay Teachers, but a few bucks here and there do add up. Additionally, I tutor two nights a week which equals roughly $60/week. Even a small amount like that can easily be added to your travel fund over the course of 9 months. Lastly, I have seen many positive reviews about VPKID–flexible tutoring schedule all from the comfort of your home. We don’t see the $20 here or the $40 here as a big deal, but when we don’t touch that money and save it, we end up with a vacation during the summer.
- Little bit of Luck. It’s true. Part of traveling is luck. You find a great deal on a hotel or flight. You find a friend that lives in the area and crash with them for a few days. You travel with friends who also have that travel bug to split the costs and see the same attractions for a fraction of the cost. Part of traveling is planning and budgeting, but another part will always be luck.
Traveling is one of the best adventures and memories one can make. There is a wide world out there. Get out there and see it.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo
Make sure to also visit me on Instagram @TeachingTraveling.
Talk Soon Folks!