How to Travel the World as a Broke College Student


     Since I graduated high school in 2013, one of the most common questions I’ve been asked is how I’ve been able to travel to over 30 countries around the world as a college student. I’ve had incredible experiences from studying international business in China to spending summers throughout the most beautiful islands in Greece and Southeast Asia. I’ve learned more from traveling than any university could ever teach me and I’ve been able to share these experiences by recruiting my friends to join me on my international adventures. Now, I want to share with my online followers how I’ve been able to travel the world as a “broke” college student so you can have the opportunity to explore the beauty within our world.

     Being able to travel the world starts with designing your life to be able to do so. Most of the decisions I make in my life are based around traveling. For instance, I pride myself on not being materialistic. Possessions literally weigh you down when you’re trying to travel the world. I limit my spending while I’m at home to only purchase the absolute necessities. You will not find me going on shopping sprees to own the latest trends or even spending money on fast food or drinks at bars. I’m not saying you can’t treat yourself when you’re at home but it’s crucial to stay cognitive of your spending habits so you can get the greatest bang for your buck internationally.

Here’s a quick tip to get a snapshot of your financial expenditures:
     Download a spreadsheet application on your phone such as Numbers or Excel and start documenting every time you make a purchase. I know this may seem repetitive and an annoyance but if you get yourself into the habit of documenting your spending it is the best way to identify areas where you can cut back and save for travel. Create 4 columns in your spreadsheet. One for the date of the purchase, the name of the purchase such as “McDonalds”, the $ amount of your purchase, and one with the category of the purchase such as “food” or “entertainment”. Have a running total sum of each category to give you a snapshot of which category your money is being spent.

Liquidate, liquidate, liquidate! If you don’t absolutely need it, sell it! It’s better to own less of the things you don’t really need. Sell your used clothes, old video games, the iPod nano sitting in your drawer collecting dust, etc. Anything which you don’t need is best to be sold or donated than unused.

Plan your travels a year in advance. Long term travel goals help you save $$$
     Many people who reach out to me and ask to join on my next adventure are surprised to hear that I usually plan my trips at least 12 months in advance. One of the most common responses I hear is “I can’t plan that far in advance”. That answer is an automatic response to fear of the unknown and commitment. I get it, you don’t know where you’ll be in a year, if you’ll be alive/dead, or if you’ll somehow have an opportunity in a year which will prevent you from traveling. However, 12 months fly by faster than most people realize. Time never stops ticking away and the best time to travel is when you’re young, healthy, have limited responsibilities and have the opportunity to do so. The stars will never perfectly align in your life to travel the world. There will always be that “one thing” which you feel is holding you back. My advice is to let those fears go and take the chance, chase the unknown, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. I’ve had several friends throughout the last 4 years of traveling who have promised me left and right that they would be on my next adventure. Some have even gone as far as purchasing their plane ticket only to back out at the last-minute for some irrelevant excuse. Fear is the number one reason why people do not travel the world. Now, I challenge you right now to make the decision of traveling not only to another city in your state/country but to travel the world. If traveling is something you truly value in your life than I full-heartily encourage you to chase after your dreams and make life-long memories. The only thing which can hold you back from experiencing the world is yourself!

Leverage Purchasing Power to Choose Your Destination
     The best time to start planning your travels is now and the best way to start is choosing the destinations you will be visiting. I know you want to see the world in its entirety from the Tropics to the Eiffel Tower but let’s start with the areas which provide you with the greatest purchasing power. I know places in Western Europe, Australia, the United Kingdom are popular first time international destinations for young travelers but I highly encourage you to pick destinations which give you the greatest ability to travel further and longer such as destinations in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc). Of course Europe & Australia are incredible destinations to visit but I recommend saving those destinations for when money is coming to you a little easier. Other popular destinations which will provide you with great purchasing power are destinations in India, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Columbia, etc.

Measuring Fixed Costs & Variable Costs When Picking a Destination:
     To explain this as simply as possible, your fixed costs are usually one time expenditures such as your airfare & variable costs are your day-to-day costs such as food, accommodations, intercity transportation, insurance, entertainment, etc. Here’s where most people get confused – They assume a high airfare ticket to fly to Thailand or Indonesia from America means the destination is not affordable for them. However, Southeast Asia has incredibly low variable costs to sleep, eat, travel and have a damn good time. They key is to plan for long-term stay (at least 1 month). The savings from your low variable costs will significantly outweigh your $1200 plan ticket. Although Europe can have incredible flight deals, the Euro is worth significantly more than the US dollar which decreases your purchasing power when you arrive. We will have a blog within the next week to provide you with a detailed destination comparison so you can choose the best destination for your targeted length of stay and budget.

Travel with friends!
     Now this one seems simple but can sometimes be the most difficult to do. When you travel with others you have the ability to share costs for Taxis, hotels, food, beer, etc. The more people you’re with the more negotiation power you have to decrease your day-to-day variable costs. However, finding friends to explore the world with you can sometimes be difficult to come by so here are some tips to find travel

  • Start with your local university’s clubs/organizations. You may be surprised to find a travel club or another organization similar. If one does not exists, start one! You can be the start of a network of travelers for your college.
  • Check out for travel groups looking to bring along more travelers to do the destination of your interest.
  • Find Facebook groups for backpacking or even Facebook groups for music festivals such as Tomorrowland. From my experiences, people who invest into experiences such as music festivals are also interested in international travel.
  • Leverage your own social media channels
    Send out a post once a week through your social media accounts to recruit those interested in travel. Many people want to travel the world so social media is a great way to filter out those who are series about traveling.
  • You can also shoot me a message on my Facebook to see if I can personally connect you with other backpackers I’ve met along the way at:

Make money While Traveling
     This one requires a little bit of creativity and you need to awaken your inner entrepreneurial abilities. If you need help brainstorming I encourage you to read one of my favorite books “The 4 hour work week” by Timothy Ferris. He’s an absolute global tech badass and has inspired me to invest my life into designing my optimal lifestyle.

Here’s how I make money while traveling the world:

  • I started studying online marketing and how to generate revenue streams from the internet. If you can make money online than you can sustain yourself anywhere with an Internet connection which are most places in the world.
  • I started practicing website development. Now don’t get intimidated thinking you’ll need to be able to read and write code (although it does help) but I actually know very little about coding. I invested time into using WordPress to develop websites because it is the most efficient want to create beautiful, custom websites. If you want to go from 0-100 real quick in website development get yourself a license to the Divi Theme and make yourself a blog/portfolio. Just start creating and looking up tutorials and you’ll be able to create websites which customers are willing to pay for.
  • If design isn’t your thing than maybe content production is. I make money every month by creating content for blogs, emails, and social media account for businesses in Florida.

Now, these are only 2 of my several streams of revenue I generate online and I encourage you to learn what you’re most interested in to derive financial value. Areas worth studying are e-commerce, social media marketing (if you have an account with great engagement), graphic design, video editing, or even look into other remote jobs which many small businesses offer such as jobs like project management, data entry, sales, etc. If you find a job which pays you online not listed here then drop me a line in the comment section below.

     I have many more tips and tricks readily available to help you travel farther and longer as a broke college student. If you enjoyed this post and want to read more on how to travel the world then subscribe to be notified for the next post on sustainable travel.

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