Putting the phrase “I can’t afford to travel” to bed

The amount of time I have spent researching new adventures is around the same amount of time I’ve spent on airplanes. I have no doubt that I have racked up days drooling over photos of Thailand and researching the currency conversion rates from the U.S. dollar to the Indian rupee.

I am a travel addict. The first step is admitting it, right? There’s no road to recovery here, only a road that I am constantly trying to increase the traffic upon.

I hear it everyday, “I can’t afford to do that, I can’t afford to travel.”

The truth is, you probably can’t, at least not how you might be thinking. The majority of college students cannot afford a plane ticket to Brazil, a four-star hotel in Rio de Janeiro, a shuttle to and from the airport, and full meals everyday. But that’s not traveling, that’s a vacation.

What most college students can afford is frugal traveling, and a boost to their confidence and independence levels.

I can afford to travel because that is where all my money goes. I don’t go shopping, I don’t buy picture frames or knick-knacks. I buy cat food, pay my bills, and (try) not to touch the rest.

No, you probably can’t afford to travel if you spend $30 at the bar twice a week, buy a latte every day, and receive a new package on your front doorstep every month.

Cut corners, if you have a trip in mind that you direly need to take. Think about where you spend your money instead of saving it for a plane ticket. Weigh your options and if the venture is important enough, you’ll be making sandwiches at home instead of tipping the Menna’s delivery driver.

The dreaded plane ticket is the biggest challenge, the tallest hill to get over, and will inevitably be the biggest dent to your bank account.

You can easily knock off a couple hundred dollars by planning not to fly in the high season, if you can help it, and always opting to fly during the weekdays.

Once you’ve got a hold on the seemingly impossible concept that is saving money, think about how you’re going to spend it once you’re there.

Instead of a hotel, consider a hostel. They’re not as disgusting or terrifying as they seem. Most of the time they’re run by friendly people, kept clean, and depending on the area, they’re usually safe. Not to mention they’re almost always a fraction of the price of a hotel room. Sure, you might be sharing a room with a snoring French guy and a Moroccan girl who splays her clothes about the small dorm room, but their stories are almost always worth their trouble.

If you want to take it a step further, consider a work exchange. Workaway.info lists hundreds of work exchanges in countries all over the world. You might be working six hours a day, but you’re provided with a free home to stay at and most of the time you will be fed.

Findacrew.net is a similar website that offers jobs on ships, and WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) offers free housing and food to those willing to work on organic farms. All of these resources offer opportunities in hundreds of countries.

The opportunity to contribute to a business or organization in another country not only looks good on paper, but will absolutely be a rewarding experience and something that shakes you to your core.

Travel doesn’t have to be something only fantasized and dreamt about; the availability of opportunities and possibilities are massive, and expanding everyday.

Anyone with a job and a decent work ethic can afford to travel, but it’s the desire and dedication that will actually get you on the plane. In the end, the feeling of complete independence combined with a little fear and a lot of curiosity completely justifies any struggle it took to arrive.