I don't believe that money has to be a barrier to traveling the world. Money is definitely important and is a big factor toward travel, but it's more about changing the way you think about paying for things and prioritizing the things you spend money on.
Don't automatically dismiss that dream destination because of the cost. Do your research. And research some more. And get creative and come up with alternative ways to travel to that dream destination. Then comes the fun part - start planning and GO!
I haven't addressed exactly how I've paid for my travels so far on this website because money is a sensitive subject and is different for everyone.
I've also read blogs where the blogger explains how they fund their travels, and then a horde of criticism and whiny people troll their comments and inboxes saying life isn't fair, you suck, your lifestyle is unrealistic, wah wah wah.
Everyone is different. Everyone is in a different financial situation. If money is a barrier, think outside the box.
That said, here goes nothing...
Some facts about my financial situation:
Yes, I have bills to pay every month.
Yes, I still drink Starbucks every day.
Yes, I currently work both a full-time and part-time job.
No, I don't have a rich uncle who secretly funds my travels.
No, I don't have student loans (yay, scholarships).
---But I also don't think student loans should stop people from traveling (and have proof of friends with nasty loans that still find ways to travel).
Here is a completely transparent overview of how I've funded my previous international trips to Europe.
1. I studied abroad in college.
After emptying out my savings account to pay for the summer tuition, I had finally convinced my parents that I was serious enough to study abroad in Italy. They reluctantly let me go, afraid for my safety "in scary Italy" (seriously, how ridiculous does that sound?). My parents paid for my flights and two weekend trips (London and Amalfi Coast), which I of course was extremely grateful for. Other than that, my spending money came from my personal remaining funds. Even though I came home with just $25 in my bank account, I was happy, smiling, and had no regrets. Luckily I had a summer babysitting job to come back to...
2. I worked as a tour guide based in Italy and traveled around Europe for my job.
After graduating college, I knew I wanted to go back to Europe, but since I couldn't afford a trip, I knew I had to get creative and find another way to do it. I found a job to work for a company that has trips around Europe for study abroad students, and part of my job was leading the trips (where travel and accommodation were covered).
I worked for the fall semester (August - January) and have no idea how I made my personal budget of $1,400 last that long, other than the fact that I ate vegetables, eggs, and bread every day and (sadly) didn't buy a dirndl at Oktoberfest. If you're going to work a similar job, I HIGHLY SUGGEST a more comfortable budget - at least $1,000/month. My parents paid for 2/3 of my flights as a birthday present, but other than that, I used the $1,400 I had left over from my summer job, plus the monthly stipend I got from the company I worked for.
I had only $30 in my bank account when I returned to the States...but planned ahead before I left - I got a job in February to work a leadership conference in DC for a month to build my money back up.
Note: While I don't regret spending all my money on these first two trips, I definitely recommend coming home with more than $25-30 in your bank account. I also recommend having some type of job or form of income set up for when you get back (unless you're using vacation days from a current job) so you don't go into debt.
3. I worked as a faculty advisor for an international leadership conference in Europe.
The same company I worked for in DC also has international conferences. I was shocked - and extremely excited - to find out I got one of the spots to work at the Europe conference for two weeks. The company covered all my expenses: flights, transportation, hotel, and food in exchange for work. I had very few minor expenses during the conference, and I stuck to a budget during my weekend in Paris beforehand. This time, I came home with a far more decent amount in my bank account than the previous two trips.
There you have it! I hope this information was helpful to you, and inspires you to get creative and see how you can make travel work for you, despite the price tag. Whether you can book a trip in the new year or formulate a plan to go somewhere five years from now, stay focused and be determined to make it happen!
Also read: 11 Ways To Make Money While You Travel