What do you do when you run out of money while traveling?

It’s hard to travel when you don’t have money. That’s a fact. You need  money, even just for the essentials. When Zoey and I tell people that we have been traveling for nearly 2 years and that we plan to travel for 7 years, their first question is “how can you afford to travel for so long? Are you rich?” No, we’re not rich. We work. We rely on temporary work in different countries to fund our next trip. Basically, we attempt to get a job everywhere we go. What happens when we don’t find a job? Well, we hadn’t come across that problem.

In Southeast Asia, Zoey worked in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, sometimes for food and accommodation and other times for a small amounts of money.  In Australia, we both worked for 10 months at many shitty jobs for many long hours. It was worth it. Those 10 months paid for a two month road trip down the east coast of Australia and three beautiful months in Japan. At the end of our 3 months in Japan, we knew we had to find work again because we were coming to the end of our funds so we both agreed that we would go to South Korea and work. We are now in Seoul, the biggest city in South Korea. We figured a big city would have many tourist bars and we could get a job that would be okay with our lack of Korean language skills. We thought wrong. We have been in South Korea for 1 week today, we have found NOTHING! Maybe it’s because we don’t speak Korean, or because we don’t have a working visa, or both. Whatever it is, it sucks and we didn’t count on it.

Luckily, Zoey and I are really good at budgeting so now we live off of 711 rice balls, tap water, and we stay home all damn day to avoid spending money. It sounds shitty right? Everyone thinks traveling is all glamourous tourism, nice hotels, and sightseeing. Well, I’d like to welcome you into the world of backpacking full time, when sometimes you pay for one bed at a hostel and sneak the other person in, take the night bus to your next location to avoid paying for a hostel that night, sleep to avoid eating or drinking your money away, and drink the cheapest and grossest beer to forget how broke you are. You gotta make your money last and you gotta be smart. Sure, we want to try the delicious food, see the beautiful sights, or buy some souvenirs but if we don’t, we can travel longer. We always choose travel. You don’t need the fancy stuff to make the experience unforgettable. People welcome us into their home, gives us a hand, and offer their friendship. We have come to realize that it is not what you see or what you have but it’s the experiences, the stories, and the people that make traveling our addiction.

So we know how to budget and people are kind, but we still need money. What are we meant to do when we are down to our last few hundred dollars in a country that won’t employ us? Go to a country that will. A full time backpacker has to be adaptable. If you make a plan and it doesn’t work out as you planned, make another plan. Zoey and I change our plans more often than you can imagine. Last month we planned to work in South Korea, last week we planned to go to New Zealand, two days ago we planned to go to China, today we planned to go to Vietnam. We can’t afford to stay three months in South Korean like we planned. If we don’t have a job, we have to move. We will still travel South Korea for a month or so, and then we will go teach English in Vietnam.  This will require us to stay in Vietnam for a year, which we didn’t plan on, but you gotta be adaptable. We will enjoy one more month of budget backpacking in South Korea and then go back to work because if you want to travel full time, you gotta work.

Leave a Reply