Work and Travel

Traveling when you have debts

Are you in debt and wondering if you can travel, or how you can travel while you are still paying off loans? Then this article is meant for you. Learn how to control your finances in a way that allows you to travel. 

Being in debt should never limit you in your dreams. But sometimes we have to live up to the problems we are in. When life takes a hit at you and you run out of money it can be hard to get by without loans and credit card debts. Still, it is doable to travel when you are in debt.

What is your young and you want to take a gap year, to backpack around the world, or you are a pensioner that wants to travel while you still feel fit to do so. Let’s make a plan so you can follow your dreams.

1. Get control over your finances

Make sure you know what comes in and what goes out. Start budgeting your money in a way you know what is going on in your wallet and bank account.

Make a budget sheet in f.e. excell or buy a notebook, to note all expenses and all income. A balance sheet. And see where you can make changes.

And while you’re at it, also make a list of your debts and outstanding credit cards and how much you pay off on a monthly base. Try to discover how much interest you pay. Nothing is more confrontational than seeing how little you pay off and how much interest you pay per month. It will motivate you to pay off those loans as soon as possible.

Siquijor Island healing

2. Change your mindset

In your mind, you may feel guilty about planning a trip while you still have a debt to pay. But going on a vacation, even an extended one does not mean you run away from responsibilities.

On the contrary, while you are backpacking or traveling in countries where the cost of living is low, and you rent out your house back home, you might be able to pay more than you do under normal circumstances.

And change your mindset about needing a lot of money to travel. The advertisement business makes us believe we need to spend our holiday in sheer luxury, the best isn’t good enough and prices are over the top. But there is no truth in that. I have known people that slept in dorms in hostels, shared meals, and had a blast on a budget. And I myself, travel the world on a budget and do not have tons of money to spend, but I can afford a lot of fun things.

You also need to change your mindset about buying stuff. Do you really need what you see and want? Do you really need to go out a lot? And if you need to buy something, can you find it second-hand or refurbished? That may sound stingy, but it is not, it is to serve the greater goal, your trip abroad.

Boracay Beach

3. Minimize your current debt

Now you have your oversight of budget and income, and about all the spending you do, and where you can cut back on spending, you may want to take a look at your loans. Credit cards loans are the most expensive. Maybe you can focus on 1 loan, for example, the lowest you have, and pay a little extra each month to end it.

you can not imagine the energy you get from paying off a loan. And once you did that, you take another loan, etc.

Pay off your credit card debts and put away the cards. Do not buy in advance anymore and pay later. Try to live off your real income without spending money you do not have (yet). Once you start traveling you take your credit card with you as backup finances for emergencies. And you need the maximum card credit to cover for that.

If you have a house and a mortgage, find out if it is okay to rent out your house while you are away. IF you calculate all the costs of the mortgage payment, taxes and maintenance, and whatever costs you have to pay on a yearly base for the house, you might set a rent that makes you a little profit.

Be sure to be informed if there are any consequences for your taxes.

mactan airport, cebu, visa, tourist visa, visa run, expenses, cost, exit clearance, mistakes, leaving the philippines, departure, international airport

4. Set a departure date

It is nice to work towards a goal. With you in control of finances, it is time to plan a trip. Set up your trip details and add a reasonable and realistic budget to each stage of your trip. Remember, spending three weeks on a beach in Thailand might be a lot cheaper than going on a cultural city trip through the European cities. Even when you include the ticket to Thailand in your travel initiaries. So be realistic about what plans you make.

And hunt for bargains! check out hotels and booking sites, find trends for cheap days, or maybe like book 4 get 5 offers.

But once you have a departure date, you can really look forward to the future, paying off debts and minimizing your life might not be such a huge sacrifice anymore.

If you set your travel budget make sure you do include those costs that are easily overlooked, like laundry, a small medicine pouch, visa costs, and illness.

summer child, always summer, living in a sunshine country

5. Consider a different type of travel

Now, what if your budget is not enough to travel,  no matter how you twist and turn the figures to make them more favorable?

Now here are some solutions that may help you realize your travel dreams:

  • consider working while traveling, either an online job. you can even start while you are still planning to add some extra finances to your current situation. But there are also plenty of hostels around the world that allow you a cheaper stay if you work a few hours per day in the hostel, in cleaning or maintenance for example.
  • consider organizing a yard sale or putting stuff you can do without on a digital marketplace. All the money you make from that goes in the piggy bank for travels
  • be creative about the money you receive at the moment, maybe you receive a payback from taxes? Or you’ve received a gift or a huge tip? Put it aside for your travel plans.
  • ask money instead of birthday gifts this way you can save up.
  • find little jobs to do for money, like walking your neighbours dog or selling cakes or meals ordered by people online from your kitchen

And I am sure that you can come up with other ideas to save up money. Do keep in mind that even when you are abroad for a longer period of time, you follow up on your payments.

Do you have debts that gave you a passport notification, you cannot travel unless you pay those debts off first.

I hope to meet you someday, somewhere on this earth!

Happy travels.

Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher, and iPhone photographer. Always horizon bound preferably on a motorcycle. Currently, she lives in a desert village in Baja California Sur in Mexico. She is an emigration coach and works online.