How I’ve Traveled Around the World for 4 Years Without Going Broke

PAPER PLANES

  1. Looking forward to part 2! The sentence “there’s nothing wrong with buying things if you really want and can afford them, but for me, I wanted to spend my money on travel. And food.” Is one I could have written.
    I sometimes really have to force myself to buy new clothes or things like that. I’d rather save those dollars for travels. And people don’t always understand, wonder how I can afford to travel as much as I do. And than I tell them: “Priorities, it’s all about priorities.”

    • Alana Morgan says:

      Totally about priorities…I can’t remember the last time I bought something like a new dress but I buy plane tix regularly. Thanks for reading!

    • Alexandra says:

      Can’t wait for part two. Hope you were able to cut loose a bit more ☺ I hope to have half of your discipline in Thailand! Europe is hurting my wallet.

      • Alana Morgan says:

        It’s funny in Thailand because most things are relatively affordable so you don’t have to spend too much…but then you feel like you don’t have to be quite as careful of your budget so can easily slip into splurging…

  2. Rachel says:

    This is super interesting. You have excellent discipline when it comes to spending – and I’m glad I’m not the only one who really hates buying new things and feels bad about spending too much money! Sounds like you really busted your ass before you left Seattle. Can’t wait to read Part II.

    • Alana Morgan says:

      I *usually* am disciplined when it comes to spending 😉 I’m glad that’s something that comes easy for me, but it also has it’s drawbacks…I could have done many more things while backpacking through Southeast Asia but was too cheap to cough up the cash. Thanks for reading!

  3. Great inside perspective! It’s refreshing to read honest articles of how people actually came about traveling or living in different countries.

    • Alana Morgan says:

      I hope it’s interesting! There’s nothing really new I can say about saving money to travel – you save it and then you use it to travel – but feel like it’s sometimes helpful to hear the little details of what people did/are doing and makes you feel like you aren’t the only one!

  4. Love that the underlying theme here is that there’s still the need for budgeting while spending as well! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that once you’ve saved the money you need, you still have to be smart about where it goes once you’re on the road. Looking forward to part 2 on Wednesday 🙂

  5. Joella says:

    I really enjoyed this Alana and am looking forward to part two. Especially: “I wanted to spend my money on travel. And food” Yes! A girl after my own heart for sure. Though I am not nearly as disciplined as you unfortunately, I definitely prefer spending my money on “doing and eating stuff” rather than simply “stuff” 🙂

    • Alana Morgan says:

      If you’re buying really incredible, can’t-live-without, best-thing-ever stuff, it’s okay 😉 I recently surged on a beautiful bedspread – a bedspread – that was probably overpriced but I really loved it and had thought about it for months and it looks perfect in my wooden Thai room. No regrets.

      • Joella says:

        Oh yes I agree about that! I guess the best motto we can all live by is to spend money on the stuff that means something to us – that might be clothes, travel, cars or bedspreads. Oh and we recently did something similar and bought a crazy priced duvet cover. So expensive but so the softest thing I have ever slept with! And we’d bought some cheaper sheets to start with that were so scratchy we couldn’t sleep. It was definitely worth splurging 🙂

  6. The DOTKU says:

    I can’t imagine living here in the Seattle area and paying rent, utilities, wifi, and cable for just a little over 1/10 of my income. It sounds like You got a really good deal. I wish it was more affordable here… or that I got paid enough that I could get all those things for only 1/10 of my income!!

    • Alana Morgan says:

      True, it would never work out. There are a ton of shockingly cheap things over there, but on the other hand, working 50+ hours a week for less than $1,000 a month can be rough. You can certainly live comfortably in SE Asia for that, but anything out of the ordinary, like having to buy a new computer or a plane ticket, is difficult to do on that little.

  7. Andrea says:

    Wow, I like to save for travel too but I don’t think I could ever be that frugal. That took incredible discipline and determination. For me that sounds a little extreme, I go for budget hotels but not the dodgy kind and I like to eat out, but I respect you for doing what it takes to follow your dream and get what you want. Looking forward to part 2.

    • Alana Morgan says:

      This was also four years ago when I was in full cheap backpacker mode 😉 A little extreme, yes, I could have spent more money and been just fine, but at the same time I haven’t dipped into my savings since I was continuing to make (a little bit) of money and stay frugal.

  8. Great post! It’s amazing the impact a little (or a lot of) discipline can make on your life. These are the kinds of things people need to learn in high school so that they understand the opportunities ahead of them if they are wise.
    Looking forward to part II 🙂

  9. Julie says:

    I found this post very helpful! It helps to read about what someone else did specifically. My husband and I are moving to Thailand later this month to do much like you did in the begining – take our TESOL course! Then we will be placed and begin teaching. I look forward to part II!

  10. Made Carlianti says:

    Very good. Keep it up.

  11. Drew Meyers says:

    The key to long term travel on very very minimal money is the ability to save on rent by staying with friends and family, at least in my specific case. And we built a whole app to facilitate it 🙂

  12. I looooove posts like this – I’m a sucker for details, so I really enjoyed your breakdowns. Looking forward to part 2!

  13. Interesting yet inspiring. Some people just don’t get it, happy enough with their ordinary life. And when they saw our pictures moving around here and there, they thought we’re rich without thinking that we worked hard and deserved to see all these stunning places around the world.

  14. Cynthia says:

    Dang girl, you’ve been hustlin’! That much is clear! I am already really loving this series… it’s fascinating to me to see how people do what they do and do it well. In fact I actually just wrote a post sort of similar to this one (about traveling on an ESL teacher’s salary)
    One thing left me curious: when/why did you decide to leave Seattle and move to Thailand to begin with?

    • Alana Morgan says:

      What you can do on an ESL teacher’s salary is an interesting one because it varies so much from place to place! To answer your question, I wanted to travel and live abroad more (I lived and worked in London right after college for a brief time and went through Western Europe). I had visited Thailand on a quick vacation and immediately know I wanted to spend more time there and thought I would “start” in Thailand then slowly work my way back to the U.S. Clearly part of that idea didn’t really go as planned…

  15. Aaron K says:

    great post! and same here, i would much rather spend money on a plane ticket than expensive clothes, though in all honesty, when i return home to my friends with nothing tangible to show for my efforts, i find myself comparing my life to theirs and feel a bit left behind i guess. its important to remember that i value experiences over things. cool to see someone else out there values the same things!

  16. Tracy says:

    Did you initially dip into your savings when you moved to Thailand, like for a motorbike and whatnot? I’ve had to dip into a chunk of mine and I’m hoping I’ll be able to pay it back on my teaching salary (I also don’t pay rent or lunch, the school does thankfully!). But I also have $230 in American bills I pay back home which is a bummer, but is what it is. Like you, I want to stay frugal and travel and experience SEA Asia

    • Alana Morgan says:

      Honestly, it was so long ago that I don’t really remember, but I thin I may have only taken out savings to pay for my initial rent deposit (which only would have been a couple hundred dollars). I worked for a couple months before buying my motorbike, had very cheap rent and only ate street food (unfortunately I didn’t have my rent or lunches paid for!).

      • Tracy says:

        Smart move, will wait a bit as well. Thanks 🙂 I’m grateful for the free rent and lunch for sure because my salary contributes to my american bills! #adultlife

  17. Claire Morris says:

    Hey, sorry to comment on such an old post, but do you mind me asking which company you did your TEFL course with? Just found your blog, inspired and really enjoying your posts! x

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