How to save money for travel: Thirty realistic money saving tips for anyone

How to save money for travel: Thirty realistic money saving tips for anyone

As much as I want to pretend that travel is cheap, travel costs money.  As someone who lived close to the poverty line for a couple years, I know how hard it is to save money for travel.  I’ve focused these tips on how to save money for travel for any salary rather than focusing on money saving tips for those who earn enough that a latte each day is something that you can cut out of your budget.  Keep reading for my very real and battle-tested tips on how to save for travel… I’ve had a lot of questions on how I save for travel as I’m quite frugal and I hope this answers some of the questions.

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How to make money on the side: 15 crazy and creative ways to make money

How to make money on the side: 15 crazy and creative ways to make money

If you’re trying to make travel (or any other financial goal) a priority this year, you’re probably thinking, “I need to make more money.”   With a wedding party and travel coming up, I hope that my entrepreneurial spirit will teach you how to make extra money on the side starting this month!

Saving money each month is one part of the equation, however a clever side job that makes you extra money might be enough to treat yourself to a vacation, a shopping trip, a new apartment, or even a spa visit.

How to work abroad: Professional jobs to help you move abroad

How to work abroad: Professional jobs to help you move abroad

 Wondering how to become an expat? You need to find a job abroad! Here is a list of careers and advice to help you find international jobs! ​ Finding jobs abroad is much easier if you’re a professional with significant job experience and/or have a Masters/Ph.D. Depending on your career, living and working abroad with the right work experience is possible if you’re trying to figure out how to move abroad. Keep reading for tips from real expats! (more…)

Maximize your Vacation Days with Working Full Time

Maximize your Vacation Days with Working Full Time

I’m an American working a 9-5 job.  I know you don’t have enough vacation days off to travel. Instead of saying quit your job to travel, this post is about how to travel more with a job.  Working 9-5 often means dreaming of vacation days, but this is how to travel more often by maximizing your vacation days out of the office. Keep reading to see how I managed to swing visiting 12 countries in 12 months with a full-time job.  
 
Traveling is not always about traveling for days…but it’s about going to where you’ve dreamed of visiting, no matter how long you have.  Keep reading for easy steps to travel more with a full time job!

1. Pick Your Dream Destination.

Don’t have enough vacation days but want to travel more? Tips to get the most out of your vacation days off to travel more while working a full time job.

Watching the Martian led to obsessing over..and visiting Jordan

There are SO many places that I want to go to, however prioritizing them is important.  Although I definitely keep an eye on some of them with the hopes that the price will drop by $1,000, I know it’s unlikely for a while.  Focusing on places that you often seen flight deals pop up for is a good strategy for nailing a good flight deal–and ticking off your bucket list.   Try to minimize long layovers unless you treat it as an opportunity to explore a new country (hello Iceland!)

I recommend making a list (or a joint one with your family!) about where to make a priority for the upcoming year.  It can be simply a list on your refrigerator or a Pinterest board. (Pinterest can be a great resource for travel/tips inspiration no matter your niche.)

2. Write down all Public Holidays & Total up your vacation days.

Figure out when you’re off for public holidays and how many days you have off. Often these amazing flash deals (aka Secret Flying) involve taking massive number of days off in the middle of a random month (sure it’s cheap, but come on!) and honestly, even I don’t have that many days. 

However, I definitely recommend tweaking your Facebook settings, so you see budget flight deals by liking Secret Flying then pressing “See First” under the tab where it says “Liked.”  Sometimes you’ll find a steal–and even if you can’t use the dates they recommend, you might find inspiration OR an amazing deal on the dates mentioned.   I found an amazing deal to Slovenia this way!

Don’t have enough vacation days but want to travel more? Tips to get the most out of your vacation days off to travel more while working a full time job.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

I am a huge fan of Google Calendar, which allows you to create “new calendars” where you can create a special one to keep track of your days.  This allows me to know WHEN I have time off–and when I can’t take a vacation (due to an important unchangeable work thing or personal event).

If you click “My calendars”, create new calendar.  Name it whatever you want although makes sure the square with vacation days is colored in.  Then, make a new appointment on each of your days off.  Remember: WEEKENDS ARE DAYS OFF.

Don’t have enough vacation days but want to travel more? Tips to get the most out of your vacation days off to travel more while working with a full time job.

3. Have you ever done a weekend getaway?

I’m currently based in The Netherlands where weekend getaways are much easier than in the US, but the short weekend trip is possible.  This means leaving directly FROM work on Friday and flying back by by Sunday night.  This way, you need ZERO days to explore a new place.  (My coworkers think I’m ALWAYS traveling for this reason.)

Similarly, I like to see how far I can go in five hours by plane, train, or car.  Inspiration is the hardest part as it’s easy to think I’ve done X, Y, Z…and there’s nothing else to do.   My weekend/day trip inspiration is often gathered from a mix of Atlas Obscura (a website that catalogs the weird, wonderful, and historical!), blogs by locals about charming things in the area, pretty Pinterest pins, hiking guides, and local guides to the area.  That’s how we ended up on the Dutch island paradise of Texel and in the beautiful city of Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands. Although what’s close might be so familiar, it’s often worth looking into places that you’ve heard about–but you’ve put off. It might surprise you.

4.  Le Long Weekend

Vacation days are what I live for, so I only take off days that are tied around weekends and/or public holidays to maximize my time off.  By “sewing together ” public holidays with weekends to take off the day bridging it with the weekend PLUS +/- 1 day before and after, I get a five/six day vacations with only two vacation days used.   (This is how I snuck over to Kosovo!)

Don’t have enough vacation days but want to travel more? Tips to get the most out of your vacation days off to travel more while working with a full time job.

5. Creativity

Don’t have enough vacation days but want to travel more? Tips to get the most out of your vacation days off to travel more while working a full time job.

Rainbow Springs, Florida, United States. Yes, I did this on a LONG weekend from Amsterdam.

Be flexible with your dates. I always fly the nights before a major holiday or even my day off, so I wake up in a new country or I’m en route to my destination by the time work starts.​  I recommend checking prices for one of the following combinations: Thursday/Friday, Friday/Monday, OR Monday/Tuesday

Travel can be exhausting, but if you book flights during your off day OR the day after, you lose out on a full day of vacationing when you could already be there.  Sure, it seems a bit stressful, but it will be worth it when you’ve arrived smoothly at your destination.  It’s science: Vacations boost your health, including stress levels, for a MONTH after you get back, so 1 hour of stress = lasting benefits.

If you’re not going that far, it might be worth looking into flying back the morning that you need to return to work.  I know it sounds crazy, but I did a long weekend flying from Amsterdam to the US with taking a half-day off and arriving at 7am before heading to work in the afternoon.  This isn’t for everyone, but it allowed me to see my family over a long weekend without losing two vacation days to being “in transit” or recovering from jetlag.

6. Do you get to go on work trips OR does a family member travel for work?

Don’t have enough vacation days but want to travel more? Tips to get the most out of your vacation days off to travel more while working a full time job.

Wadi Rum Desert

Not all of us can do this, but if you get to travel for work, consider adding on time at the beginning OR the end to travel after asking your manager to get a later flight back.  You can minimize your days off by using the weekend to explore.  You might need to use 1-2 days to tie it to the weekend, but in my case, my employer actually encouraged me to stay after a conference when I was able to prove that I could save them 200 euros in the flight cost by staying the weekend after the conference.

As the partner of an academic, I know firsthand that while you’re attending a conference, you’re usually not sightseeing too much,  After a conference that my partner attended in Israel, we visited Jordan.  If you can bring your family or partner along (they’ll need to pay their way, but you’ll save on your own expenses), they might be able to enjoy a free hotel room while sightseeing on their own daytime.  You can travel afterwards together, but it’s a great excuse to travel!

6.  Negotiate your work contract

When you start with a full-time job, negotiate your holiday days as part of your employment offer.  (This tip might be more applicable to experienced professionals who have more job experience and are in a position to leverage their job offer prior to accepting.)  I gained five extra days this way. There is no harm in asking and you’d be surprised what they’d come back with. – Tip from Travel & Lifestyle Diaries

Note on Flying On Major Holidays

Don’t have enough vacation days but want to travel more? Tips to get the most out of your vacation days off to travel more while working a full time job.

If you work full time, you’ll know that (almost) EVERYONE travels on certain dates. Know that sometimes your dates will not be cheap no matter what you do and even if they are, you’ll pay a lot during that period whether in flights OR hotels/hostels.

​This is especially true if:
A) There is a major public holiday [e.g. New Years Eve] where everyone takes off the same days (e.g. Christmas Day & flies back New Year’s Day).
B) You’re flying to a remote airport with very limited planes.
C) Very limited accommodation where you’re heading.

If you want to book over a MAJOR US holiday, book early and/or shift your dates just a bit to beat the rush.  I found an amazing deal over a major US holiday for my parents going from New York to Morrocco. Direct. For $600 Roundtrip.  It’s way higher now, but booking in advance can work well if you’re planning on traveling over a major holiday.

On Finding a Good Price: Check the price on Skyscanner to see what is a good fare for your trip direct to your destination for any random two dates in the next few months (usually 3-4 months ahead) and compare it your holiday weekend way in advance. Typically booking two months ahead is best—but it is possible to get good deals closer to your dates. However, when you get too close to the dates, it can be difficult, so I love using Hopper/Google Flights to let me know if they expect the price to go UP.

Pro Tip: Stay Focused and Don’t Go Crazy!

A lot of people I know tend to go crazy trying to do AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE when they finally get an international flight. I know you don’t get much time off and you want to maximize it, but there is something to be said for slowing down during your trip and trying to explore a region as best as possible.  If you do 1-2 days in each country (if you’re Eurotripping), you get a small taste of a culture and you’ll wish you had more time to explore it.  If you try to focus on 1-2 places, you’ll learn so much more about the culture, even if it’s a few days.

Do you have difficulty finding time for traveling? Where do you want to go?

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Don’t have enough vacation days but want to travel more? Tips to get the most out of your vacation days off to travel more while working a full time job.

Don’t have enough vacation days but want to travel more? Tips to maximize your vacation days to travel while working full time. Part-time travel is great!

Tips for traveling with a full time job and 0 trust fund! Advice on balancing work and travel from a girl who visited 12 countries in 12 months!

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Living Abroad

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Living Abroad

Before we begin, let me say moving abroad is not easy and although everyone loves to write about the benefits, it’s not a fairytale.  It’s especially hard if you’re moving to a country unemployed like I did, but whether you can get a job depends on a lot on your field, qualifications, visa, language skills, and the country itself. These are the seven things that I wish someone had told me a year ago to make moving abroad easier.  (more…)

Expat Advice: Moving Overseas for a relationship

Expat Advice: Moving Overseas for a relationship

 

If you’re considering moving overseas for a relationship, you might be wondering is this a good idea? Read this expert expat advice on if you should move overseas for a relationship and if you’ll be happy when moving to a new country for love.
Doing your research is quite important when considering moving to a new country with a Significant Other.  These are the questions I thought most about prior to moving and the ones that were most important in my decision to come along.  (Questions under the cut)
A little about me:  I moved to Amsterdam from the United States over two years ago.  (We are moving to France!) My boyfriend (now husband) had received a job offer here and he asked me if I would be willing to come with him if he took the job. I had a hard decision: to abandon my solid job prospects in the US and enter a new country filled with uncertainty (including unemployment) with my cat in tow.  It wasn’t easy, but I chose to come with him.
Update (two years later): Moving abroad has been one of my happiest decisions. My husband and I have grown closer, my career has blossomed, and I was able to find a fantastic job in the Netherlands. Moving abroad has strengthened my relationship as well as my own confidence in my abilities.
Some context: Before this major decision ,we had both been graduate students and I had dreams (often while watching House Hunters) of living abroad once I had a solid career (…give or take 20 years).  I had just began my post-graduate job search while finishing out graduate school and I had major questions to answer: what type of career was I suited to and what city (within the US) to move to?  I had some great job prospects/interviews, but I was open to what the future might hold as I intended to move from the East Coast to Midwest/West. A lot of friends were surprised when I was willing to take the jump for my boyfriend as I’ve always been independent, but I knew that I had little to lose due to my post-grad status (beyond my modest savings) and I didn’t want to lose out on a fantastic relationship (and a great experience!) due to distance.  Most importantly, I asked myself some very difficult questions and did my research.
Things to consider when moving abroad for love….
This is obviously a difficult decision, however you should know upfront whether this relationship is stable enough to warrant moving with them and if they’re fully committed to you. 

Starter questions to consider for moving for love

  1. Is moving to a new country for love worth it for this relationship?
  2. Do you love this person? (This is the easy part!)
  3. What would happen if you didn’t move with SO?
  4. How much do you trust your SO?
  5. Do you intend to stay with your SO long-term? Have they indicated their intention to be with you long-term?
  6. Is your SO willing to help you through difficult times emotionally and financially?   Will they promise to do so and have they shown that they will do so?
  7. Will the country you’re considering recognize your relationship?
  8. Are you ready and willing to fully support 100% your SO during one of the biggest transitions of his/her personal AND professional life? (Reader suggested! It can be very stressful on your SO due the fact that their success often determines what happens next and it was their decision that brought you along.)
Vulnerability can make moving abroad tough. If you’re used to working in your home country and working in your new country is illegal/difficult, you may be unhappy with an income to support yourself. It’s good to think carefully about your level of independence as you are entering someone else’s life.

Are you legally allowed to stay in the country for an extended amount of time without a visa? 

  1. If not by default, what is the visa process like and how long does it take?
  2. Is there a possibility that you can continue working at your current job/studies while abroad?Are you willing to quit your job if this is not possible?
    1. Can you just visit often while maintaining your current life?
  3. Do you have enough savings to support yourself for an extended period (6-12 months)?
  4. Is the city you’re considering living in large/small and is it close to any other cities? Are most of the jobs in this area focused on a single industry?
    1. What are the ideal aspects of a city that you want to live in and what aspects are a dealbreaker?  Does this city (or nearby cities) have any of these aspects?
If it is not legal to join your SO in your new country, I strongly encourage you to reconsider if it’s worth going to this country as this can invite chaos.

​Are you allowed to work legally? (Or do you plan on not working?)

  1. If so, can you get a job in your field with your qualification as is? If not, how easily can you find work with learning new skills/degrees to supplement your qualifications? Similarly, are you willing to take up a new profession/field if you cannot find work?
  2. What is the de facto language for business/government? Is it easy to learn and/or how long will it take to learn the language at a proficient level (B1-B2 level using the Common European Framework Reference for Languages)?
    1. Do you need this language for a job in your profession? At what level?
  3. Do you have enough savings to support yourself if not working/unemployed for a 1-6 month period?
If you cannot work, what will you do? Similarly, how will you support yourself? Working illegally can result in strict penalties in many countries.
  1. Do you find the country and its culture interesting?
  2. Do you know others in your country of choice?  If not, do you often have difficulty making friends?
  3. Would it bother you if you were separated from your support network (possibly by a time difference)?  Are you willing to accept that you might lose close friends?
  4. Are you close to your family? Would seeing them in person much less often (once a year) be okay with you? Are you willing to accept that they might be upset with you for leaving?
  5. What is the housing market? Can you afford it? If bringing a pet, are they allowed in most rentals?
  6. If your relationship fails, what will you do!?  Do you have enough savings to head home?
There’s a lot of soul-searching that is required.  It is good to be aware that reality, at first, is less ideal and more stressful than you realize.  When you move abroad, you’re often isolated with zero to few friends, vulnerable, stressed, and very dependent on your significant other.   It’s not a good combination and it’s good to know what you’re up against if you’re considering becoming an expat.  You can read more about how to get the best out of living abroad AND make friends here in my follow-up!
Moving overseas is hard enough, but moving for love can be tough. I wish you the best in your relationship and in life!  You can read about my wedding here.
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Considering moving overseas for a relationship? Expat advice on if you should move abroad for love and if moving to a new country for love is a good idea.

Considering moving overseas for a relationship? Expat advice on if you should move abroad for love and if moving to a new country for love is a good idea.