People always asks me: Thuha, how are you able to travel so much? Well, there’s an easy answer to it, but some might find it hard to execute. The first time I traveled by myself, with my own money, was when I just graduated from high school and had broken up with my boyfriend. I was really sad, a bit relieved (lol) and decided that now was the time when I could finally travel as much as I’ve always wanted to. I lived with my mother so I didn’t pay any rent or had to buy groceries, I was cleaning houses with my friends (not the best job I’ve had) and just saved as much money as I could. After the summer, I had about €3.000. That was a lot of money for me back then and I immediately booked my ticket to Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, where I spent about 2 months with a friend.
That’s when I realised how much I loved being abroad, how it was worth spending all those hours working at a job you hate, to not buy those clothes or dine out but instead save them so that I could do all those things in a more exotic country. Of course, it sounds way easier than it is. I got Swedish salaries, which is why I could save fast, and living at home still sure helped it.
Although you get far with little money in Southeast Asia, I still had a dream of traveling to Australia and New Zealand. But I knew it wouldn’t be as cheap as Thailand and I definitely knew that €3,000 wouldn’t take me far. So I did what most Swedes do: I moved to Norway. The salaries there are about 10% more and their money is worth more than the Swedish krona. Everyone told me that it was easy to get a job there since the “Swedes take the shitty jobs” and I honestly couldn’t care less what I had to do, as long as I could fulfil my dream.
I got two jobs and worked Monday – Sunday, long hours with minimum amount of sleep. There were some free days, but they were few. I worked at a kindergarten, 7 eleven, as a receptionist, and in one of my favourite places: at a centre for disabled children. After about 3 terrible months in a city I really dislike (Oslo for anyone who wonders), I had managed to save about €7,000. I had some savings before that as well so you can imagine my happiness when I reached that amount of money at the age of 20. I booked my crazy expensive trip and spent almost all of it during 2 months. I wasn’t as smart with money then as I am now.
In my “older” days, I’ve been working with elderly during summer and winter breaks, when I was studying in Jönköping University, and before it. The job has been both a blessing and a curse. Blessing, because it’s one of the most flexible jobs I’ve had. I can basically decide how much I want to work and when I want to work, because they always need people. I also did night shifts, so that I could earn more money. Curse because well.. I really disliked it. I knew it wasn’t anything I wanted to do my whole life. It’s stressful, boring and probably the most thankless job. But thanks to it, I managed to travel to Asia again, go backpack in South America, live in Israel and Palestine, and travel to numerous places in Europe.
I’m also well aware that not everyone is privileged to live in a country that pays very high salaries such as Sweden. But this post is for the people who are wondering how I’ve been able to travel around the world. It’s also important to note that I haven’t had a “serious” job either, before Lisbon. I’ve always worked these temporary jobs, because I know I’ll be gone after a while. I haven’t stayed behind for a boyfriend either, nor will I ever do it. I’ve never felt bound to a place really, which is probably what makes it easier for me to travel so much as well, and live in different countries.
So as you guys can see, the key is to be really firm with yourself and not splurge on things you don’t need. When you work hard to save for a trip, you’ll never be able to save enough if you start spending it on stuff such as new clothes or go partying every weekend. It’s tough, there’s been many times when I’ve just wished I had a “normal” life, where I could go out and eat all the time with my friends and buy that stupid sweater that I want, but I’ve never regretted saving money to go travel. Once I step foot outside of the new country I’m in, I always, ALWAYS feel like it’s all been worth it. And those materialistic things could never buy me the happiness that traveling has given me. I’m not gonna remember that basic black dress I got. But I sure as hell will remember that time I hiked on top of a volcano in Indonesia.