If you’re like I was in the years leading up to taking that first step towards traveling, saving the money is probably the most overwhelming and intimidating part of the pre-planning. It really does not have to be though. I’ve learned over the last half decade of travelling and saving that it takes patience and some discipline but is not impossible even for those who don’t make a lot of money. I’ve been part time at my job and going to school full time and I still have managed to put some money aside in order to take an occasional trip. I’ll be listing some of the tips that either I picked up along the way from other people or that I have figured out for myself.
————————————————— Tip #1: A Little Bit at a Time
If you don’t have any idea where you want to go yet but you know you want to go somewhere it is best to start your savings now instead of waiting for a plan to pop up. It only takes a little bit at a time and before you know it you’ll have a travel fund that you can use on a destination of your choice. You can literally start today. Take a small portion from each paycheck that you remove ON your payday immediately and put it aside. When I was working full-time I was able to put much more aside each paycheck but right now I do a very modest $30-40. This means two times during the pay period I probably need to stay home and not eat out. This also means in a 6-8 month period I could have enough money saved for a flight to somewhere in Western Europe, South America or Central America. The beauty about travel to a large portion of the world is that it is cheap ONCE you get there. So another 6 months or so you’ll have enough money to last you 2 weeks in most places. (Western Europe excluded but you would just have to save for a little longer)
I just got done doing this exact process for my flight to Colombia and with out guilt I purchased a $400 round trip ticket from Tampa to Bogota and then Medellin back to Tampa for the end of this year. I’ll spend 10 days inbetween the two cities and since day-to-day expenses are some of the cheapest in this part of the world I’ll only need to save from now till December at my current rate to have a very comfortable time. Remember, the flight is usually the most expensive part of any trip so once you get that out of the way you can focus on day-to-day expenses. So don’t get caught up in feeling like you have to save for everything in such a short period of time… patience is important.
My friend Brooke from Brooke Reviews.com brought up the Chichen Itza because of a book cover she found and loved. It reminded me of how many amazing things there are to see in my corner of the world. North America is filled with world heritage sites and ancient history that I’m often guilty of overlooking for more far away lands.
Has anyone reading this made the bus trip from Cancun to Chichen Itza? Or been there for any other reason? I think I’d like to visit during the autumn equinox because at an exact moment during the day a shadow hits the temple in such a way that creates a snake down the side of it. The Mayans were pretty cool. I bet Tikal and Chichen Itza will be flooded for the 2012 end of the world celebrations.
Chichen Itza (photo courtesy of travel.resourcesforattorneys.com)
I have put off the dreaded search for a good TEFL certification course for quite awhile and I’m not really even sure I’m ready to dive into it yet but seeing as though I’m about a year out from graduating it would smart to at least have some options. For those of you who don’t know, TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is a certification that helps prepare people to teach English in a foreign country to students who already have a basic grasp of the language. The certification is not required but it does help find better paying jobs in more competitive markets.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
I’ve narrowed it down to Chiang Mai, Thailand, Hong Kong and Jakarta, Indonesia as the three most likely places I will land a teaching job coming straight out of TEFL certification and my bachelors degree. I found a pretty decent looking course. TEFL International I’ve done a little bit of research and it doesn’t seem to have any scams attached to it and it is pretty affordable. There are 4-6 week courses in Chiang Mai so that would be perfect! I could totally see myself traveling through South East Asia for a few months then settling into a TEFL course and then hopefully being placed into a job. Thailand is supposed to be really laid back and the students are really eager to learn and very respectful. This would be a great opportunity to start out and get the hang of the classroom. My ultimate goal will be Hong Kong. I’ve always wanted to live in a big city and I totally dig Hong Kong in just about every way. I can give up having a car, learn a new language, ride the best subway system in the world in a city with by far the best skyline. Oh, and eat authentic Chinese food ALL the time.
If anyone reading this has any suggestions for TEFL courses or knows anything about TEFL International that I linked above PLEASE let me know.
I’m excited to say that in December I will set foot on my 5th continent. South America. I just spent 45 frustrating minutes on americanairlines.com trying to purchase the flight. I had originally planned to go to Panama but after thinking it over for awhile and being bored with the idea of chilling on the beach for 10 days I decided the price was right for a flight to Bogota, Colombia. I’ll spend 10 days in December in and around the cities of Bogota and Medellin! I’ve hear nothing but good things about Colombia as long as I ask the right people who have actually been there and aren’t basing their opinions on popular misconceptions. The timing will be PERFECT for this trip. I’ll be finishing my 3rd semester of Spanish so it will give me a good chance to practice it. I hear English is kind of hard to come by!
I have no real plan in place yet other than about 5 days around each city with one full day of travel in between. I found a pretty cool looking hostel in Bogota but nothing yet in Medellin. I will be sure to keep everyone posted on my plans! Now I just have to get through the fall semester in one piece. This will be a great get-a-way.
Seriously, I finally figured out what was buggin my brand new PC over the last few months. It was a crappy hard drive. So, I made sure I got all my photos off of it and into safety. I would die if I lost my travel pictures. I replaced the hard drive and reinstalled windows and now everything seems to be running OK. I told myself I would wait for everything to be working right before I started organizing photos or getting myself more involved with Twitter.
So, about August. I have a week off from both classes and work in mid-August. It will actually be my birthday week. I originally planned to maybe go out of town for the weekend. I even went as far as attempting to make contact with a Couch Surfer from Haiti. Flights are pretty cheap from Tampa to Port-au-Prince and I have heard great things about the couch surfers there. I think the notice is too short now and in reality I just don’t feel up for a trip right now.
I’ve been running through a ton of options for December when I have much more time off but that’s Christmas time and mom has already expressed that she would like me home for Christmas this year because after I graduate I may not be home for SEVERAL.
This is where it will start. I’m going to blog about my progression towards going global. Everyone who knows me knows I’ve done some travel but also knows that my ultimate goal is to sustain myself abroad and experience the world on a much deeper scale. I will be blogging my final year of college, a few trips before I graduate and then my TEFL certification before heading overseas to teach English for a few years. The details along the way may change but the overall theme will not. I will be global. I will see the world.
I have a couple of exciting things in the works for the rest of 2009. I’ll post about them shortly. In the mean time, here is a photo from my last trip to the Dominican Republic!