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How I Afford to Travel as a Trinidadian?

As a Trinidadian, the one question I get asked a lot is “How do you afford to travel so much?”. I generally try to redirect or reframe the question into … “How did you manage to structure your mind to enable a life of travel?”.

So here is what I didn’t have …

  • Rich parents who gave me tons of cash. I have great, amazing folks … they’re just not rich in the North American context
  • The ability to save lots by living home. I left Trinidad for Montreal … I had to work and pay rent and bills when I was 18.
  • “Champagne tastes with beer money”
  • A lottery win.
  • A keen ability to save. I’m absolutely terrible at managing money … like F’N TERRIBLE.

Here’s what I did have

  • A great set of friends and family that didn’t stop me from travelling.
  • Encouragement to find my path
  • No fear. You never know something is bad until you try it.
  • No shame. I’m never afraid to express my desire for what I want.
  • The ability to figure how methods of generating money. I do have a constant drive to find new ways of making money.
  • Great sources of inspiration along the way.

Now what does all this have to do with affording travel? In the end, it’s all about perspective. Affordability of anything all depends on simple math. If you are good with very simple things, then you can afford all simple things. If you like drinking $600 bottles of 30 yr old Highland Park, then you’ll need to find a lot more money for your tastes.

I never knew that I wanted to travel the world … but I knew I wanted to see different things and broaden my cultural, culinary and intellectual horizons – I just didn’t know how. Sometimes you have to meet people who open your eyes … in my case, I met a guy named Jadhu … a really great guy who basically shared his experiences of consulting and travelling. I didn’t really know mixing the two was possible until I met him. I didn’t have consultant friends or knew anyone who had consulting friends – so it wasn’t super apparent to me.

Again, what does this have to do with affording travel? Everything! Once you have the right perspective, you can travel anywhere … some places you might have to wait longer to visit, but you will eventually get there. So once you have the right perspective, here are the considerations you need to be aware of …

  1. You need cash … don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
    We don’t live in a Star Trek universe, where everyone works for the good of humanity. You need cash to travel. Anyone who tell you differently is a fool and not your friend. How much cash, is the question. I’ve worked since I was a teenager, and that a very nice way to making money!- If you think you have no skills …. then you’re a fool too.
    – If you’re a girl and you have a big rack, you automatically have bartending, waitressing and lifeguarding skills. Didn’t you know?
    – If you’re a guy and can speak, you automatically have dishwashing, waitering, janitorial and construction skills. Didn’t know that either eh?
    – If you can speak English, you can teach English. True story!
    – Here’s what I did for 4 years in university to make money

      • Busboy
      • Bouncer
      • Bartender
      • Hot Dog maker
      • Library shelfer
      • Counter clerk
      • Telemarketer
      • Credit Card sales guy
      • Student Council
      • Getting experimented on for money
      • Wrote lecture notes
    • Work isn’t glamorous, doesn’t mean your travel doesn’t have to be.
  2. You don’t need to save every penny
    You just need to ensure that you follow this equation …
    Constant Travel = f(Money coming in > Money going out). If you want to travel long term you have to be prepared to do that hard graft to get you started and be sensible enough to embrace ways to save as you go.
  3. Be aware of all accommodation options
    You can travel long term or short term. If you’re short on funds, then settling in a place for a few months (or more) and earning some money will help you a lot. You can always stay in hostels, surf couches or stay with friends and friends-of-friends.
  4. Be a points junkie
    By knowing how to use and abuse airlines, you can make your money go a lot further. I am an avid points collector, credit card user and hotel program optimizer. There are so many companies competing for your eyeballs and your time. Want to know how much of a points junkie I am? I am currently staying at the Crowne Plaza in Moncton during the week. I have to stay in a hotel for my job … doesn’t mean I can’t try and rack up as many of those points for tons of free hotel nights on my trips. I spent two hours researching promotion codes for the hotel … every free night I rack up is worth between 125$ and $500 depending on the hotel. Is 2 hours of your time worth 500$? So the moral of the story … research everything and ask for everything.
    points
  5. Plan … plan … research and plan some more. Then wait!
    Everything with travel has to do with timing and planning. Booking your flights and accomodation in advance will save you tons of money. Using your research to find coupons, deals and freebies will also save you tons. I always travel in the off season for a destination. If I find cheap tickets, I just book them right away. I always attack a deal!
  6. You don’t need to cut out all treats.
    I love drinking scotch. I wasn’t going to cut out scotch to travel … hence I figured out how to make cash, drink scotch and travel at the same time. I eat out all the time and like tons of gadgets … again see point #2This is the mindset, I’ve used to travel long-term.  There’s been no luck involved but just common sense and a single minded focus to see as many places as I could. Everyone has a different method, but I’m always willing to listen to other people’s ideas .. so comment below and let me know how you can afford to travel.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at [email protected]

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  • Nicha

    Thanks for posting – because I have to admit, it’s always my question, “How do they afford to travel so much?” Especially as it’s my desire to do the same but wasn’t sure if it is even possible for me. Great read, thx.

  • Marissa

    Nice read. Lol, I know all to well how to optimise FF miles, hotel points etc from work travel for personal travel. Some of us are fortunate to be able to do that.

  • Vidia

    I must say I enjoyed reading this. Not only was it enlightening but made me laugh a lot. Thanks for sharing