See the world debt-free

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Local News - By Claire Tsosie

It’s a dilemma many 20-some­things face: You badly want to travel the world. But if your bank ac­count could talk, it would say, “Are you kid­ding?”

When you’re just start­ing out, even a week­long va­ca­tion might seem like a oneway ticket to credit card debt — espe­cially if you have a mod­est in­come or lack ac­cess to paid time off. But with the right moves, you can bud­get for travel with­out go­ing into the red.

START SAV­ING

For Krista Aoki, the key to avoid­ing debt while trav­el­ing is sim­ple: Save.

Be­fore a big trip, “I try to al­ways start with a big cush­ion. I al­ways save up be­fore­hand, and I try to save up more than I need to,” says Aoki, 26, an on­line busi­ness man­ager who does con­sult­ing and vir­tual as­sis­tant ser­vices for other on­line busi­nesses. She es­ti­mates it takes her about three months to save up for a big trip. She now trav­els full time and is cur­rently in Kealakekua, Hawaii.

To save for travel , she spends less on other items, such as clothes. She also hasn’t owned a car in 2½ years and of­ten re­lies on pub­lic trans­porta­tion.

You might not be able to pay for a va­ca­tion in full right this se­cond. But that doesn’t mean you need to choose between tak­ing on credit card debt or be­ing a hard­core home­body. By spend­ing less in cer­tain ar­eas now and set­ting aside money con­sis­tently, you might have enough to cover a small get­away in a few months.

DECIDEWHERE TO MIN­I­MIZE COSTS

The best va­ca­tion isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the most ex­pen­sive va­ca­tion. By ag­gres­sively re­duc­ing your ba­sic costs — flights, trans­porta­tion, lodg­ing, food — you might be able to squeeze in more ex­plor­ing for a smaller price.

In­stead of book­ing ho­tels, for ex­am­ple, you might opt to stay at hos­tels, which are more like col­lege dorm rooms. Of­ten, stay­ing in a hos­tel means shar­ing a room and bath­room with oth­ers and sleep­ing in bunk beds rather than on queen­size mat­tresses. But they’re a good way to meet other trav­el­ers and can be star­tlingly cheap.

“A nice co-work­ing hos­tel in Chi­ang Mai in Thai­land is like $10 a day,” says Aoki, who says she spends most of her time in Thai­land. “I’ve been to two, and they’re re­ally clean and pretty com­fort­able, and they in­clude break- fast and a work­ing of­fice.” If you’re will­ing to sac­ri­fice some pri­vacy, stay­ing at one might make it eas­ier to pay your credit card bill in full when you re­turn from your trip.

USE CREDIT CARD RE­WARDS

When Leah Ger­vais was 24, she trav­eled in South­east Asia for four months with­out go­ing into debt, in part by us­ing credit card re­wards to pay for her flights.

“It’s not that I had a lot of sav­ings ready to go,” says Ger­vais, now 26, founder of life­style web­site Ur­ban 20 Some­thing. “What I did have was a lot of fre­quent f lyer miles.” She got the miles in col­lege by earn­ing sign-up bonuses on air­line credit cards; she didn’t carry bal­ances on them. With those miles, she was able to fly from New York City to Siem Reap, Cam­bo­dia, and back to New York City from Bangkok for just the cost of taxes and fees. (She paid cash for other shorter f lights she took through­out South­east Asia, which were quite af­ford­able, she says.)

If you’ve been us­ing a re­wards credit card, log on to your on­line por­tal to tally your miles or points. It might be enough to cover part of your trip.

MAKE MONEYWHILE TRAV­EL­ING

Both Aoki and Ger­vais have some­thing in com­mon: They work while they travel. That gives them flex­i­bil­ity to visit more places and stay on the road longer.

“I started do­ing some free­lance writ­ing work while I was (in South­east Asia),” Ger­vais says of her four-month trip, not­ing that the cost of liv­ing in Cam­bo­dia was sig­nif­i­cantly lower than it is in Man­hat­tan, where she live s. On that trip, she also worked as a bar­tender for a short time. Be­cause she was trav­el­ing fru­gally, her in­come from th­ese jobs was enough to sup­port her abroad.

If trav­el­ing is a pri­or­ity, look for jobs that can be done re­motely, such as free­lance graphic de­sign or writ­ing. Or con­sider jobs that re­quire you to take busi­ness trips. Work­ing while trav­el­ing isn’t ex­actly “va­ca­tion,” but it’s a fi­nan­cially sus­tain­able way to sat­isfy your wan­der­lust. While you’re ex­plor­ing, you can make sure money’s flow­ing into your bank ac­count faster than it’s flow­ing out.

AP PHOTO/CAROLYN KASTER, FILE

FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2013, file photo, a pad­dle­boarder looks our over the Pa­cific Ocean as the sun sets off of Waikiki Beach, in Honolulu. When you’re just start­ing out, even a week­long va­ca­tion might seem like a one-way ticket to credit card debt — espe­cially if you have a mod­est in­come or lack ac­cess to paid time off. But with the right moves, you can bud­get for travel with­out go­ing into the red.

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