With parents from two different countries, travelling was always a part of my life. As a kid we spent summers in Sweden visiting family and friends, or even taking a family trip elsewhere in Europe. My first flight alone was when I was 13, and while I still vividly remember the fear I had on that long flight alone (and getting lost at my layover airport), I’ve never looked back since then. From that moment on, I was completely hooked. Ever extra penny I could save went towards travelling… and that has not changed to this day.
Every extra penny I could save went towards travelling
I became so passionate about travel that felt I had to help others achieve their travel goals too. After studying abroad twice in my undergraduate program, I worked part time in our education abroad office to help advise fellow students on how to make a study abroad program a reality.
I knew that post-graduation I wanted two things:
1. to not study again for a while
2. to move abroad.
While not everyone may want to go as far as the other side of the globe, I ended up moving to Melbourne, Australia.
Although far away, it seemed like a fairly safe move; no language barrier, great weather and friendly locals. While all of this was true, it was still an incredibly challenging experience. Starting over with no friends, no real network and very little knowledge of the country and culture made the first few monthly fairly difficult. I learned quickly that I needed to really step out of my comfort zone to feel like I was home in Melbourne. I started going to tons of networking and expat events, utilized my contacts from home and ended up with a great job, and some life-long friends.
While I continued to travel while living in Australia, I found a new respect for Australians and how difficult it is to make international travel a reality. If you think the United States is large and fairly isolated, move to Australia. Every flight not only took a lot more time, but a lot more money. I started looking for travel deals, and make a point to explore the closest continent—Asia. I travelled off peak times of year and visited countries that while expensive to get to, were not expensive to stay in.
Fast forward 5 years and I am now living in Sweden (where my mother is originally from). While the move to Sweden was mostly for my Master’s degree program, living in Europe has opened up a world of opportunity for travel. Low cost airline carriers are everywhere and a weekend trip to a new country is completely achievable. Sweden is one of the most expensive countries in Europe to live in, and while the 6 week paid vacation is a huge benefit, I’ve had to be extremely smart with my budget to make my travel goals a reality. The main question I get from friends isn’t why I travel as much as I do, but how can I afford it? To put it simply, I prioritize travel. I’m still rocking my iphone 5s and that’s pretty much as tech savvy as I get, I keep my wardrobe simple and make most meals at home. It’s a lifestyle choice, and one that I gladly make to continue to explore new countries and cultures.
The question I am asked by my friends isn’t why I travel as much as I do, but how can I afford it?
My advice to readers wanting to make their travel dreams a reality?
Below is a list of what I think can help you get going:
- Budget: we’re not all millionaires, so create a budget and decide how much you need per trip and what you need to cut from your regular monthly spending be able to save for it.
- Step out of your comfort zone: This can mean a lot of things, but just try something you wouldn’t normally do. Be it travelling alone, going to a more remote destination or testing out a retreat, try it!
- Talk to everyone and make friends: On of the best parts of travel is the amazing people you will meet. If you’re lucky, you will end up having life-long friends, and people you can later visit in new countries.
- Utilize your contacts and get recommendations: Ask your own friends for recommendations or look to blogs/Instagram for places to go. Google can only get you so far to find the best local places.
- Plan ahead but allow space for spontaneity: While I am all about planning ahead, always leave some room to be a bit spontaneous during your travel. Some of the best spots I’ve found have been from just wondering without a plan.
About the Author
Tina Miles is an American Swedish travel enthusiast. She has lived and worked across 3 continents and has travelled to over 40 countries. She believes that travel and exploration is more than a hobby but can be a lifestyle, even if it’s not your day-job. Follow her journey and get inspired to start your next adventure.