If you’re thinking that becoming a professional traveler sounds like the ideal job for you, well here’s a little wake up call.

First of all, allow me to burst some fantasy bubbles:

There are many people doing what you are just trying to get into now, and they have been doing it for much longer.

To be successful, you will have to find a way to stand out in this big crowd. A lot of people are working really hard to be on the top tier. This means consistency of posting, quality content and a keen knowledge of what to post when and current trends. That’s just the start. There’s marketing knowledge and public relationing required as well.

Keep in mind, all this effort and you are doing this on your own because

Its not a job that pays well unless you’re one of the “big” names in the travel blogging world.

For most of this experience, you will be self funded. There will be times you will be given sweet deals from people in the industry like resorts, eateries and hotels for instance, but if you’re just starting out, you’re on your own.

You will eventually make it to where people start offering you cool deals but as point one stated, there is a lot of work to be put in to get there and as such

You need to be dedicated and REALLY love doing this

I balance my blogging and other sources of income that require my attention. Luckily I really love doing this so I treat it as a hobby or a passion project. If you are in this to make money or get internet famous, you will get bored and tired very soon and as such you will fail.

You need to understand that this has to be first and foremost a fun activity, a creative outlet. 

 

Outside the Jewelry Museum in Melaka, Malaysia

 


 

Here is a list of some things I (gladly) gave up to be able to afford travel blogging:

 

  • Eating at restaurants and cafes or going out for movies and other activities

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love a good night out. I love food and trying new places. I’ll be the first to suggest going for a meal with friends if we are planning to meet up. But this is an expensive love to be sure.

Eating outside of the home is expensive and adds up even if all you do is go out to get a Big Mac meal at McDonald’s. One or two meals here can equal one or two nights in a decent hostel in a cheap country!

So what I do is, I still meet my friends and go out, but I’ll eat before leaving the house. I grab a snack or suggest meeting for coffee instead of dinner or lunch. If I do order from the menu, I choose simple dishes that don’t cost an arm or a leg or something filling like a milkshake or a smoothie.

I also avoid going out for movies or other activities and try to keep myself entertained either at home or at free spaces like parks or hiking trails. I’ll call friends over to my house to hang out and watch movies or plan to go to parks instead.

The pros: Ever since I started eating more at home I have lost weight, seen better results at the gym and have been feeling healthier and stronger. Home cooked food is always better for you because you know exactly what you are consuming and can make smarter choices!

 

Bye amazing street dimsum!

 

  • Fast fashion 

This has had a huge impact on my life and over the last few years my perception of fast fashion has really changed. Fast fashion is places like Forever 21 and HnM to name two. Its cheap and easy to buy (read: Hoard), changes often and is trendy and there’s a lot to choose from right? All true.

But consider what it must take to produce these clothes so cheap? Usually manufactured in third world countries and China, clothing and fashion goods have become a huge contributor to environmental damage. This is due to sub par standards being employed to keep costs low and a high production level. So we wind up with A LOT of clothes every season that don’t all get bought but more just keep getting made to keep up with “trends” every season!

And of course, fashion obsession and consumerist culture makes us want to keep up with the times so we buy and replace or keep hoarding.

Where do all the old things wind up? You guessed it! At ever growing dumpsites. And don’t be fooled into thinking clothing is biodegradable. Most fast fashion goods use synthetic materials (another reason why its cheaper) and so you’re basically wearing plastic.

Another way to look at this is, the more you own the harder it is to travel. Keeping costs low means travelling light. So isn’t it better to own fewer things you love?

I am guilty of being a fast fashion addict till even as late as last year. I have a closet full to spilling and now it has become a source of anxiety for me, Its hard to pick out what to wear or know where everything is. Its even harder to pack. Laundry takes AGES.

So I have gone on a low buy and made every effort to not buy any more new clothes or shoes till I’ve worn the ones I already own, donated the ones I don’t need or sold the ones I cannot wear anymore but are still worth selling.

Needless to say, this has saved me a lot of money (even made me some!) and also made me realize just how much I wasted every month only to wind up with what has now become an inconvenience!

The pros: I feel really good having donated a lot of the things I did not need to people that could actually make better use of them. Also I am excited to be able to cut back and only have things I really love, which will make packing not only easier and lighter, but also my travel so much more comfortable and cheaper!

 

The impact of the apparel industry

check out http://www.greyishgreen.com/2017/11/03/howtostopfashionpollution/ to learn more about this issue

 

  • Cancelled subscriptions in favor of cheaper or free alternatives

I was signed up to so much shit I didn’t need. Over the years I had somehow wound up with memberships and subscriptions I paid for every month but had either stopped using or they just didn’t add any value to my life anymore.

There was a stock image website I signed up to for some Photoshop and editing work in university.

The anti virus on my laptop was far more expensive than it needed to be.

I had paid for the gym but gotten lazy and didn’t go enough to justify the cost.

These are just a few examples of things that I needed to either get rid of, or change my attitude towards.

So now I go to the gym come rain or shine, period cramps or fasting. I go as often as I possibly can. I also have a cheaper and just as effective anti virus program installed on my computer.

I stopped paying for cable television because I just do not watch TV anymore and if there was something I was interested in, I would buy access to it online.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but unnecessary repetitive costs every month do make a difference to your overall travel fund savings!

The pros: I started reading a lot more when the TV went out. I also got fitter because I decided to make my gym payment worth every penny

 

  • Unhealthy habits

This may not seem directly related to saving money for travel but hear me out.

If you’re healthier, health care costs go down. It is that simple.

I started taking better care of myself and not only did that improve my quality of life (DUH) it also made it so I was saving a lot on little things like cough and cold medications and visits to the GP.

I am working on improving my sleeping habits and as mentioned above, getting the most out of my gym membership and also avoiding eating out of the home. I also replaced most sugary drinks for simple water. More savings on the grocery bill!

Also, travel insurance can be very expensive, and getting sick abroad will definitely bust a well thought out budget.

Now I am not saying you should forego insurance (things can always go bad and accidents do happen to the best of us) but if you can avoid getting ill abroad, why not right? It will only ruin a trip you worked so hard to go on and spent all that money for!

The pros: Getting healthier means I can walk further and avoid paying for cabs or public transport. I have better stamina so I can do more with my time and see more of whatever place I am in. I have more strength and I am happier.

 

  • Electricity and Gas expenses

My family and I are pretty conscious about energy conservation and do our best to switch off and play our part. But there is always ways you can make your household more efficient.

For instance, it gets really hot where I live so for the worst of the summer I camp out on my parents’ bedroom floor. Yes I live with my parents and it’s all very Asian of me, I know, that’s not the point here.

But it saves us a lot of money on air conditioning which is necessary in the extreme summer temperatures! So instead of running two, we rely on one.

We also spend more town downstairs in our home because it is cooler than the upstairs area and saves us energy in cooling.

We do our best to save water and gas in similar ways too. It all adds up to not only be better for the environment but also save us money on our bills!

The pros: Save the environment while bonding with my really freaking cool parents? I like that deal.

 

  • Social norms

I am a Pakistani woman, 28 years old and of a Muslim background. The lifestyle I have chosen scoffs in the face of many traditional social norms of my society. Not to act like I’m some feminist revolutionary (though I am definitely a feminist) because the truth is I am just a girl lucky enough to have a family that not only happily allows me to do as I please but actually supports me and is proud of the life I lead!

And yet the amount of times I’ve been asked why I’m not married yet or been lectured on the “impropriety of my life choices” is starting to get tedious.

It is a reminder that I have chosen to stick out like a sore thumb.

I’ll definitely cover this topic in more detail in another post but for now, I’ll say that I have realized that somewhere along the line, whether I meant to or not, I gave up some of my cultural marks in favor of a life that is not usually perceived in a kind light. Regardless of how much I enjoy my life how it is and love what I do, I understand that I have also alienated some of my background.

The pros: I have the opportunity to inspire others to carve out their own path. I can also show the world that there’s all kinds of people everywhere and we Pakistanis are not as one dimensional as the mainstream media would have the world believe.

 


 

So you see, it wasn’t easy for me to just one day wake up and decide to be a traveler. I had to make decisions that shaped my actual day to day life! I do not regret giving up any of these things or the ones I’ll be listing in part 2 of this blog post.

The point was to show that the awesome pictures you see on my social media are a result of a lot of hard work, sacrifice and commitment.

Ill elaborate more on my lifestyle choices in other upcoming posts regarding my personal style and fashion with relation to how I shop and dress as well as free or cheap ways to enjoy yourself with friends (or even on your own!)

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more posts coming up soon!

Feel free to leave a comment about your own efforts to save for travel and anything you would like to add to this narrative.