I’m 20 years old and I live in PARIS. I’ve been to 18 countries in 12 months, with more in the near future. Many of you have asked me, “How do you afford all this, Paul?” Well, I’m right there wondering with you I’m here to spill the beans.
1. I’m fanatical about saving money
Ask my friends what we did together between my return from Russia and my departure to Paris. Whatever it was, it was probably free. Usually it was watching a movie, walking the dog, baking brownies (ingredients courtesy of mom), going on a hike, etc. You don’t need to spend money to make memories.
2. Limited my driving
I stuck firmly to the goal of 1 tank of gas a month. I ran errands with my mom so I wouldn’t have to drive. I had a carpool for church. And I honestly would put my car in neutral going down hills. Gas is SUCH a money sucker – don’t let it take more than it needs to.
3. Cut back my shopping
Yes, as a guy I don’t do much shopping. (Jokes, I love it just as much as you do!) But you should have seen the shoes I left back home. They were literally falling apart. I made my clothes last as long as I could before buying new ones. I only bought items on sale. And lastly, I tried to only buy something new when it was with extra unexpected cash (birthday money, babysitting money, found $10 in my pocket, etc).
4. “Where do I want to spend this money?”
Every time I was tempted to spend money, I asked myself “Would you rather spend $5 at *insert favorite store here* or in Paris?” I think we all know which one won. For about 9 months, I raked in average of 55 hours per week. Thankfully my employers were champs and I always had Sundays off to attend church. But every Monday through Saturday, I was grinding away to make every day count towards my goals.
5. Worked round the clock
For about 9 months, I raked in average of 55 hours per week. Thankfully my employers were champs and I always had Sundays off to attend church. But every Monday through Saturday, I was grinding away to make every day count towards my goals.
6. Budget travel upon arrival
Although it seems quite glamorous on Snapchat (@beyondutah), I usually eat meals from grocery stores, stay in a hostels, and walk over taking the bus. These are all the “typical” budget travel suggestions, so I would also recommend these tips!
Research beforehand how much certain attractions cost. In Amsterdam, the “most visited/famous” church had an entrance fee. But a mere 5 minute walk brought us to another church of similar size and equally as gorgeous, open to the public, free of charge.
Couchsurfing goes along with #7, because you don’t HAVE to pay for accommodations. As of today (November 25, 2015), I have yet to try it. However I have an account and plan to use it in upcoming trips.
Order currency before arrival. I’ve done this every time I left the US. Most banks will charge a small fee but it will be less than the commission-based exchange booths found at your destination. Don’t pre-order your whole budget, since you don’t want to be a walking ATM. Bring enough for at least the first 2-3 days.
Invest in a filtered water bottle. It eliminates the need to pay for bottled water which is usually overpriced and quickly consumed.
Download free language apps before arrival instead of purchasing “phrasebooks” in-country. In all honesty, you probably won’t use that phrasebook after your trip. Hence, you can conveniently delete the app once you touch back down in the good ole’ US of A (or wherever you call home). Here’s my complete list of essential travel apps!
7. Host Families
Both in Moscow, Russia and now here in France. I don’t pay rent while discovering first hand the culture of the country I’m in.
I’m also working here in Paris so I have a little pocket money for exploring the city. Whereas Russia was strictly savings since I was a volunteer.
During my recent trips to Italy and Switzerland, I stayed with friends in both places! (shout out to Ludo and Marti!) I will be in Denmark next month, staying with another close friend of mine. (SEBASTIAN, YOU BETTER BE READING THIS BECAUSE I AM SO EXCITED).
8. Street Food
You eat to live, but I live to eat. Okay not really. Sampling the local cuisine is such an essential part to understanding a region. This does not require…
9.Flexibility when planning
Travel becomes most expensive when it’s as convenient as possible. I book the cheapest days, I DON’T chose my seat (usually costs extra with budget airlines), and I try to keep my luggage minimal (just my carry on’s).
10. It’s my passion, therefore my priority
Not that having a fancy car wouldn’t be nice, but I yearn for experiences. I want nothing more then to be a citizen of the world by immersing myself firsthand. I do everything I can to save and sacrifice in order to afford these adventures. If it wasn’t my passion, I probably wouldn’t be in Paris right now.
If travel is your passion, then I encourage you with every fiber in my being to take that leap of faith. Book that trip. There is never a more perfect time than now.
At least, that’s what I’ve discovered.