As we traverse through the realm of college, we often find our lives masked behind mountains of debt. Between student loans, vehicle payments, and rent, the cost of life seems to leave little room for us to travel and experience our youth. This issue raises the question,
“Should you travel while you are in debt?“
The answer to this question should always be, “yes“.
A few years ago I was faced with this same question. I knew that I had irresponsibly dug myself into a rut of debt, and I knew that I needed to repay these debts as soon as possible. However, I also needed to travel. My need to travel was kindled by becoming a touring musician. My band and I knew that we needed to get our music in front of individuals outside of the walls of Boise, Idaho. Whether your reasoning for travel is for business or pleasure, this need for travel can put us into a tough spot financially.
Whatever your debts may be, it is always recommended to pay them off before you hit the road, but there are ways to responsibly implement travel into your life’s routine, regardless of your debts.
I recently came across an interview with Adrian Harper, an insightful business owner and recent college graduate, and within this interview he made a statement that really stuck with me.
“I needed to manage my life the way I managed my business…If I could save a dollar here and a dollar there for my company, I should also do that for myself.”
With this, I wanted to share two long-lasting tips to show you how you too can live out your youth and travel at will, without being weighed down by debt.
Don’t Put Yourself Further Into Debt to Travel
This is the golden rule of travelling while in debt. While it may seem easy to take out small loans or open new credit card accounts in order to cover the expenses of your adventures, it is not the wisest decision. This is just a short term solution to experience joy, that will make your debt-recovery much more of an uphill battle.
Instead, you should focus on creating a travel fund. Doing this requires a lot of planning ahead, but hey, this is part of the joy of travelling. Start planning trips in advance and set specific savings goals to meet as time goes on. For example, if you are planning a week-long adventure down the West Coast, it can be safe to say you need roughly $2000. Of course, this is just a rough estimate, and this number could be substantially less (or more) depending on your lifestyle, but this number should be calculated to cover the trip’s gas expenses, as well as food and spending money for the duration of the trip. With this in mind, it is vital to research every aspect of the trip. Gather ideas of what you would like to do throughout your adventure, and create a daily budget plan for the trip – remember, there are handfuls of affordable travel adventures in any corner of the world.
Once your budget plan is in order, it is time to start saving. The general rule is to put ten percent of your normal earnings into savings each month. Studies have shown that the average monthly income of a college student is around $14,400 per year – or $1,200 per month. Meaning, you can set a goal of saving at least $120 per month for your upcoming trip. With this savings plan, your West Coast adventure can be just over a year away.
Travel With Friends
Traveling with a group can significantly alleviate the woes of travelling while in debt. Taking a travel companion with you on an adventure is a way to greatly decrease travel costs, while also creating lasting memories to share in the future. Remember that $2000 West Coast trip we talked about? The price of that trip can drop detrimentally if costs are being split between both parties, and even more-so if there are three or four friends coming along.
To put this in perspective, my band went on a 17-day tour that took us from Idaho, all the way down the West Coast, and back around through the Southwest and Utah. Now the cost of this trip would have been impossible for me to cover on my own, but with all four of us pitching in for gas and food, I only ended up spending around $600. This, in my opinion, is an incredibly low amount to spend considering the experiences gained along the way.
It is also equally important to think ahead of time and find if you have friends in the areas you are travelling to. Simply asking if you sleep on their couch for a night can end up saving you a hefty sum of cash that would have been spent on a hotel. Plus, they always tend to know all of the local secrets of a town, which can get you away from all of the tourist-hungry, price gouging restaurants and shopping options.
Overall, travelling while in debt can require a lot of careful planning and consideration. However, if done right, you will be able to live out your youth to the fullest; experiencing new and exciting adventures, without hindering your ability to recover from debts.
Thank you for reading! Let’s keep this conversation going. Have you been able to take an exciting trip while still paying your debt? Let’s hear about it! Do you have questions about travelling while in debt? Ask away!