Traveling and immersing yourself in a culture, not just doing the touristy things for a week, is a great way to build empathy and humanize people and cultures that have previously seemed foreign, or like they’re just in a textbook, or exotic. So many people have started to find ways to travel on a budget. I think that what Kate talks about below is an excellent way to travel, but to be honest, it sort of reeks of privilege. Obviously not too much economic privilege, that’s the point. Maybe not even White privilege, although a bit of that. But the idea that it’s ok to just hop into another country for a year, steal a job (because really, that’s what you’re doing. Isn’t that what so many people say “others” are doing to jobs in America?–both those here legally with work visas and those here illegally but often doing jobs most Americans aren’t clamoring for anyway), and make sure you save as much as humanly possible, which means not putting too much of that income you’re drawing from an economy back into it, and you’re taking up some low-income housing and possibly other benefits for a year… I think this is a good framework to start from, and traveling and trying to immerse yourself in another culture is a wonderful thing, but you’ve really got to include thoughts of the impact you’ll have wherever you’re traveling as well.
So in summary, I say take Kate’s post a guide, but consider the effects your living will have on other people whose LIFE is in the country you’re visiting. Invest in small businesses, local artisans, and rent in places that don’t take housing from low-income locals. The first two also make for excellent souvenirs for your friends and family back home, and help your story, especially when you come back stateside and have all these experiences for your resume and job hunt. They also help you truly experience what “local” culture is, not just of the whole country, but of the towns you’re living in and visiting. Make it authentic. Live life, not just travel and save.
Also, use this trick for cheaper flights, since you’re going abroad!
The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway. I’ve realized that money comes and goes, but the more I make, the harder it is to part with it and weirdly, the less I have, the easier it becomes to budget.
I don’t do that saving account, checking account, travel account thing either. I am not rational. I am extreme. I want to travel and so I do. There is no in between. While I was working my first career job in public relations, I realized early on that it was going to take me forever to save all the money I would need to see the world. I come from a middle class family, I’m the middle child of five and I live in one of the most expensive places in America – Long Island, New York. I don’t…
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