A student loan can seem like an anchor, and while it’s incredibly tempting to run from your loans, it’s way better to run AND pay off your loans. Long vacations in the sun can be achieved through creative budgeting, refinancing your debt, working abroad, choosing economical locations, or volunteering your time to reduce the cost of travelling.
Leaving the country can be expensive, even working while abroad often involves a large initial cost, whether it’s a plane ticket or shelter on the way to your destination. It’s important to start traveling with a nest egg just in case you get lost in South America and have to run back to North America.
Creating a loose traveling budget starts with setting aside enough money in your day-to-day finances. Either save enough to go where you want, or save for a certain amount of time and find out where you can go on those savings. Sometimes, a beautiful week at the beaches upstate is more seductive and affordable than travelling overseas, where you may not be able to stay for as long. Start budgeting, give yourself a safety net and see if you can afford to leave the country for an elaborate vacation.
If you have student loans with high interest rates, consider consolidating and refinancing those loans into one with a lower interest rate. This could potentially save you a few hundred dollars on your monthly bill.
If you can leave the country, consider working abroad. From teaching English to nannying (au pair), or working in your field, there are a ton of ways to work abroad. While it doesn’t technically count as a vacation, the opportunity to explore a foreign country means that every weekend you wake up on vacation. Whether you want to see new places or explore the world, it is possible to make money and continue to pay off your student loan while living abroad.
Travelling on a budget can also help you keep things back home in order. Whether you’re hitting the hostels, airline miles, or eating the mystery meat on the street; traveling on a budget is harder — but can be more rewarding. If you’re disappearing into a backpacking adventure that holds hammocks, street food, and day-long hikes to the top of stone temples covered in tall grass, be sure that you have an address back home, or in the country for your mail. A P.O. box that you can return to at least once a week is smart for anyone who is renting out their apartment (or giving it up) while abroad.
If you want to travel the world and stay in economical locations, volunteering at co-operatives might be the right travel choice for you. They are in a variety of beautiful locations, and many of them provide housing and food. Non-profits like WWOOF might require a little more work, but their sustainable practices and the skills that they offer are useful for any outdoor enthusiast who wants to see a rural part of the country. Volunteering is always a great thing to do to help your soul and increase your skillset; the cheap travel is just an added bonus. Plus, if you want to stay domestic, but visit high-cost locations like Hawaii, this could also be a great option for you.
There’s nothing stopping you from traveling the world, least of all your student loans, and if managed smartly, they could be the last of your worries. Even if you’re still in school, those special trips and holidays can be a part of your student loan plan. Make the most out of your days, budget, save, and see the world.