We have to face this question over and over again: how did you find the money for travelling? You have to be very rich. I can't afford it.
Well, we also couldn't. Let's then finally pen it down in one place from where we got the resources.
At the beginning we thought to go to Dubai or any other place to earn a lot of money and then start our journey. Those of you who know us can already tell that this idea didn't really fit in with our values, I don't even think I would be able to stay in a place like Dubai any longer than a week. A revolutionary thought came to my mind one fine evening as I was walking on Warsaw streets: what if instead of earning a lot of money we just spend less? What if we offer what we already have - our skills and knowledge - in exchange for a place to sleep and food? And that's what actually happened. Since half a year we've been travelling around South East Asia, offering our voluntary work and received in exchange accommodation, food and the possibility to participate in the daily life of the people we visit. Without spending even one euro we learned how to grow organic rice or silk; we did bamboo rafting in the middle of Thai jungle, we admired sunsets and sunrises in a paradise island in Malaysia; we lived with an Indonesian Muslim family participating in all local celebrations and rituals and much, much more.
How to start? You can try to contact different organizations by yourself among the many you can find in Internet, or use tools and platforms which already exist (i.e. workaway.info, helpx.net, wwoof.net).
But not everything can be exchanged. You will still have to bear some expenses. Fortunately there is...
Crowdfunding is a way of raising money so that many people can support financially your project by donating a small amount of money. Instead of looking for one big sponsor, you can try to receive small support from a big number of individuals. Crowdfunding has many other advantages (I will focus on this in a following post), but let's stick to the financial side. Thanks to crowdfunding we managed to buy the flight tickets, visas for the first 9 months of our travel and vaccinations. Crowdfunding is also a kind of exchange: your supporters receive different kinds of rewards. In our case rewards are mostly connected with our concept: the GoodNewsLetter with stories of the changemakers we met, photos, movies, etc. Crowdfunding can be used if your project is something more than just a private holiday, if it brings value also for others. And it's worth to do it that way, all in all we are in this world to make it a better place, aren't we?
We used Polak Potrafi (Polish crowdfunding platform) and Kickstarter, but there are many more.
The methods described above were our two main ideas for funding our project. Beside that obviously...
Not everybody's job is paid well enough to save a lot of money, ours were certainly not. Every year we changed the place of living and, as a consequence, also job. So every year for the first few months we had to face financial instability. But last months before travelling I was working 12-14 hours per day (although it has to be mention that I did it because I really enjoyed the projects I was responsible for as they really change something in the world, so I wanted to leave them in good conditions before starting my journey). All in all, we have then some savings. Not a lot, but it gives a little bit more of security.
The fact that we have savings is also connected with few habits we introduced in our life long before starting to travel...
4. We buy less
I'm sure that we buy much less than an average person in Poland or Italy. Buying itself is not a value in our life. We try to rather fight against consumption than follow it. Before buying anything we ask ourselves: do we really need that? It's not because of being stingy, but rather because of being minimalist: I started to follow this concept few months ago and since that time I feel so much better, so much freer. I'm independent from things and from the idea of having more. It's worth also to think about time, not only money. This new phone costs 300 euro, which means one, two, three weeks of my work, of my life. Is it worth that time?
And if we really need to buy something...
5. We buy second hand
During last year not many things which we bought were new. We are buying second hand clothes, but also electronics. It helps to save money, but again, it isn't our main motivation. We don't want to participate in growing production, we follow the basic rule of responsible consumption: reduce, reuse, recycle. In every big city, also during traveling, you can find shops with second hand items.
And if you already travel there are many other methods to spend a little bit less...
6. We use public transport (or we hitchhike)
We try to avoid planes and taxis. Buses and trains are of course cheaper, but also more environmentally friendly. Travelling take longer, but we have time. Besides that, moving by land allows for seeing more, meet more people. Every long distance travel becomes an adventure in itself.
Hitchhiking? Generally yes. But it's worth to check how it works in the country we want to cross and if drivers would not expect much more money than the cost of bus ticket (it happened!).
7. We eat vegetarian food in local bars (or we cook)
We hardly go for fancy restaurants. We use small, local, street bars. Vegetables or tofu are cheaper than meat, and well... I'm vegetarian.
8. We sleep in houses of local people or in the tent
During half a year of our travel we spent in hostels maybe 5 nights all together. And other 5 in the tent. Besides that we always manage to find somebody willing to host us. Sometimes they are our friends or friends of friends. Sometimes accommodation is provided by the projects we volunteer for. Sometimes we use couchsurfing.com. Free accommodation is one of the easiest things to organize when you travel. But you need to remember that also in this case money is not the main point. It's more about meeting others, getting to know a new culture. Couchsurfing makes sense if you are ready to spend time with your host, share experience, maybe cook something for them, maybe help in daily duties. It also should be kind of exchange.
And if all of those are not enough...
9. We will work on the way
If one day we run out of money, we will stop for a while to earn some. You can teach English almost everywhere. We will also look for on-line job, above all those in which we would be able to use our material: stories, photos, articles.
But before that we come back to Europe for 2-3 months and check if we manage to find sponsor or partner which would like to spread with us the stories of changemakers.
In a nutshell: you can travel without winning the lottery. All in all, it's easier than you think. As you can see from the examples above, in most of the cases money was not the main motivation for choosing one way or another, but rather our values and things we believe in: caring about the environment, people, responsible consumption, meeting others. Money is secondary to our dreams and believes. Often it is just an excuse. Good one, but still an excuse. Everything is in our mind and money has nothing to do with that. Sometimes of course it is more difficult. We don't have children, family, credit (These are a choices). But even if you have, they are still just excuses. I know many people travelling with families, with children, paying the credit on the way. I can put you in touch with them or show you their website.
And to make it clear: this text is not only about traveling. It's about any change you want to make, but you don't have money.