If you're trying to come up with a way to travel long-term without spending all the money, then you've come to the right place.
Working while traveling has allowed me to have FUN working while traveling to countries all over the world.
In this post, I'll cover how I stretched my tiny bank account of only $1,400 over six months in 11 European countries.
I don't talk about my personal finances too much because it can be a sensitive topic for many people. Also, people can be pretty judgmental. Plus, this topic is extremely personal!
However, I feel like sharing exactly how I stretched my tiny budget of $1,400 over six months in 11 European countries would really help those trying to figure out how much to save in order to work + travel.
It's no secret that I'm a huge promoter of a work + travel lifestyle, as that is how I've paid for all of my international travels in Europe and Asia over the past 2+ years.
So when I tell you that working as a travel guide in Italy for six months allowed me to see 11 countries and not go broke, that's not much of a surprise.
However, with a minimal stipend as compensation, you might be surprised that my $1,400 starting budget was able to last that long.
To be totally honest, it's way too small of a budget to begin with (we'll get to that later in the post), but the fact that I was able to do it and still eat every day is pretty amazing.
Quick Disclaimer so this isn't totally confusing:
I started with $1,400 in my bank account with no credit card after purchasing my RT long-haul flights. I also got a small monthly stipend from the company.
Travel jobs are more than just a paycheck. Do the math and look at the FULL value!
If I didn't have a travel job, I would've spent close to €4,000 over the six months I was there on rent, utilities, transportation/accommodation to other countries, and activities like white water rafting.
So essentially I saved that much money by working abroad.
Doesn't seem like a bad tradeoff now, does it?
Here's a rough breakdown of what my bare minimum costs would have been if they weren't covered through my job:
- Rent/utilities, shared staff apartment (rough estimate): €200/month per person = €1,200/six months
- Weekend trips (8), including comped activities, transportation, accommodation: €2,035
- Day trips (2), including transportation: €180
- Gym membership: €15/month = €90/six months
- + Various discounts at local bars, restaurants, and clubs we worked with
Total covered expenses: around €3,505-4,000
+ Monthly stipend: €500/5 months (December-January holiday month was unpaid)
+ Sales commission: €300? I think that's how much I made...?
This does not include any food or drink, coffee, personal expenses, house supplies (like dish soap and paper towels), museum entry fees, doctor bills (I got sick and didn't have travel insurance), etc.
This also does not include a long weekend trip in Istanbul with my friend Mollie, or an overnight trip to Lake Como with my friend Jenna.
These short trips were for fun and weren't work-related: the cost was around $500 USD including flights, hostel, tourist visa, food, and ticket entry fees for Istanbul and around $180 for Lake Como for multiple train tickets, hostel, and food.
While overall €4,000 may not seem like that much over the course of six months, it was €4,000 I didn't have to spend.
I definitely didn't have 4,000 extra euros lying around, and there is no way I could've gone to Italy (and the Vatican), France (and Monaco), Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, and Turkey with my original budget alone.
After you do the math, you can see that had I tried to live in Italy and travel to 11 countries without a job, I would have spent thousands of more euros at the very least.
The value of working abroad is incredible, especially when it comes to money.
Comparing my travel job to other job options I had at the time make choosing the travel one a no-brainer.
If I had accepted one of the job offers after graduating college in my college town, I would've made $500/month (and the pay wasn't even guaranteed).
Add in that working for that job would've meant paying rent and utilities in a sketchy neighborhood, which were at least $350/month alone.
I definitely would not have been able to stretch my funds over the summer. AND I wouldn't have been able to travel!
*Shuddering* I don't even want to think about it.
Following my heart by choosing to not accept that job, and to continue looking for travel jobs, was one of the best things I've ever done.
So how much money do you need to save in order to work + travel?
That entirely depends on your job, location (cost of living), and your spending habits.
The best thing to do is to lay out all expenses (similar to what I did above), and fill it in according to your situation. Make sure to also estimate costs that may not be covered such as groceries and personal expenses.
If you are in my former situation of being a guide in Europe, I definitely recommend a larger budget than $1,400.
While I made it work, towards the end I was getting really low on cash.
Being really low on money is stressful!
I feel like budgeting at least $1,000/month in that situation would make for a much more comfortable experience, while likely providing you at least a small cushion for savings or side travel.
However, like I said, make sure to tailor this to your personal situation and create a budget of daily, weekly, and monthly expenses to stay on track and keep a piece of mind.
Working abroad saves you money, while allowing you to see the world.
When I was looking for a travel job, I had no idea the amount of varying opportunities that were out there.
I never would've dreamt spending more than a couple of weeks in Europe as my financial situation would not be able to accommodate much travel. Instead, I was able to travel to 11 countries for six months on almost no budget.
Would you consider working while traveling? How could working while traveling help you make your travel goals happen? Leave a comment below!