I’m about to get a little personal here. Today, we are talking about the subject of (drum roll, please)……
My financial situation.
And by that, I mean all those apparently awkward and secretive topics like how much money I make, what my bills look like, and how I’m able to travel.
With an upcoming trip to Southeast Asia, a lot of people have asked me how I’m able to afford it. And honestly, I don’t mind the question at all. I know exactly what it feels like to look at somebody else (thanks a lot, Instagram) and wonder “why do they get to do that?” Which is why I always want to be as open and honest as possible when it comes to things like saving up for a trip.
When I came home from the Appalachian Trail in late September, I essentially had no money to my name. The entire hike cost me about $7,000. Keep in mind, this total also included my bills at home. I pretty much immediately started working, which didn’t give much room for a more comfortable adjustment back into society, but already my mind was focused on saving up for my next adventure. I began substitute teaching as much as I could, and eventually took up a long-term position, and also picked up a waitressing gig, which has been an absolute BLESSING. Seriously… *side note: sometimes, I make more money in a full day of serving than I do an entire week of subbing 8-3.
I want to first be very forward that I am at an extremely opportune and fortunate time in my life right now. Although I don’t have a “career” that supplies me with benefits, I do have a lot of freedom to come and go without repercussions. I’m essentially disposable at both of my jobs right now. And I know that sounds bad, maybe it’s not the right way to put it. But what I mean is that when I leave for my trip(s), I can easily be covered/replaced, which is a HUGE relief and sense of freedom to me. I’m not locked into a contract, and although I do consider myself a valuable employee, I’m not really putting anybody out when I leave. I know that for a lot of people, that sense of being “locked in” is a big reason of why they feel they can’t travel.
I began working in early October, and set my date for Asia to be somewhere in mid-April. That gave me about six months to save up, which I figure to be ample time for any adventure. After some research and looking at prices in Thailand and Cambodia, I found out it’s actually very cheap. You may be surprised at what it takes to actually get around there. I already had a good backpack, shoes, etc… And for Christmas, I asked for a few small things like packing cubes, a lock, and a microfiber towel to use at hostels. So, here’s what I did have to buy before my trip:
- Plane ticket: from Boston to Bangkok round trip (2-month trip) $645
- Travel Insurance: $190
- Travel Consultation, Typhoid Immunization, Malaria pills: $220
- Visas: Vietnam and Cambodia $55
- Flights while over there: (to Vietnam, Bali, and Phuket) $205
Total Before Trip: $1,315
Now, it’s kinda hard to pinpoint what we will be spending over there, because, you know, we haven’t gotten there yet. All I can really go off of is other blogs and sites like Airbnb. Oh yes, we will definitely be staying in Airbnbs, as well as hostels. Hotels are very inexpensive, too. I’ll do separate post about that!
Of course, daily prices will fluctuate depending on where we are, what we’re eating, what we’re doing, etc… So, just to give you an idea, here are some rough estimates for 60 days:
- Tentative travel over there: (overnight trains, busses, taxis, motorbike) $300
- Tentative hostel/hotels/Air bnb: $850
- Tentative food: $750
- Activities: $400
Rough total budget during trip: $2,300
Cost Overall: $3,615
I truly have no idea if this is what I’ll be spending, so I’ll update this budget and do another post accordingly. We only have the first couple of accommodations booked, but it seems they range anywhere from $6-30 per person, depending on what you’re looking for. Of all the numbers I’ve seen crunched regarding a trip to Southeast Asia, it seems the consensus is that a solo traveler spends about $35 a day. So, for 60 days, that would mean $2,100 for the duration of my trip. But then, I’m thinking about all these factors that could make it less or more: are Lindsey and I considered solo travelers? ‘Cause we’ll be sharing rooms and stuff. What did these people do for activities? We don’t have concrete plans, but I know we both want to do some snorkeling/volcano viewing/elephant hugging/chowing down adventures. See what I’m saying about it being hard to gauge?
*The two months that I’m gone, I’ll also have student loan and phone payments. That will be about $480 that I’ll factor in.
Now, for the saving up part. Like I mentioned above, I work two jobs, equaling around 55 hours a week (depending what waitressing shifts I work, if we have a snow day at school….) Considering taxes, I usually make around $600 a week. I’m pretty good at saving, but there of course have been things I’ve had to spend on: student loan, monthly phone payments and a new phone, Christmas-birthday-baby shower gifts, a bridesmaid dress for a friend’s upcoming wedding, groceries, dinner and drinks, and the really crucial stuff like a yoga membership, a Lana Del Rey concert, etc…
You may be saying, “But Casie, what about a car?” Well, for those of you that don’t know, I had a tree fall on my car in October, totaling it out. No, I was not in it, and the only thing that got hurt was my heart. RIP, Elentra. The car wasn’t paid off, so I still owed $950 on it after insurance covered the Blue Book value, which I recently just paid off! I’ve been getting back and forth from work courtesy of friends, my boyfriend, and my family. It’s honestly not the best feeling in the world relying on everyone else for transportation. Actually, most of the time it’s a sucky feeling that I’m inconveniencing others. But, I know it’s a temporary situation.
You may also be saying, “But Casie, what about rent?” Well, for those of you that don’t know, I currently live at my parents’ house. I don’t know why, but when I first decided to write this blog post, that was like the one thing that felt a little uncomfortable sharing. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s freakin’ awesome that my mom and dad are letting me stay with them! And I’m seriously grateful. I think it’s because I didn’t want to come across like I’m mooching off of them. I remember one time in college, I overheard a girl saying, “must be nice to have Mommy and Daddy pay for everything” about a trip I took to Mexico. Which my Mommy and Daddy did not pay for, for the record. I guess ever since then, I felt like I had to prove No! I’m an independent woman! (makes dentist appointment all by self). But I’m trying to be as transparent as possible. So yeah, I do live at my parents’ house, saving me around $500 a month on rent. Wait, there’s more. They even cook dinner for me once or twice a week.
I save money other ways, too. I’ve sold a lot of my possessions online, like my beloved Bean boots that I recently parted with. I make lunch at home to bring to work, I don’t go out as often as I used to or as often as I would like to, and I don’t go shopping for clothes, get my nails done, or indulge so heavily in my coffee addiction. (I used to get a Dunkin medium iced coffee probably 5 days a week, on average. That’s $2.50 a day, $50 a month, and what would have been $600 a year if I had not switched to making the majority of it at home).
I hope this post helped put into perspective what I’m working with here. Please keep in mind that I’m an English Major, and don’t look too in depth into my math skills or estimations. I will definitely be doing a more specific budget post once I actually get there and feel it out.