How I traveled to 50 countries before I turned 22

A great view of a water temple in Northern Bali with a row boat in front of it and the mountains in the distance.

My favoriteΒ past time is looking back at the photos of where I have been. Reminiscing on the people I have met, the places I have seen, the food I have eaten, over the past 2.5 years. I am 2 pages away from having a full passport and that reminded me that I have been to a LOT of places. I have eaten a LOT of things, met a LOT of people and have a LOT of crazy memories. But how did I get here? Well, I consider myself a bit of a budget travel queen. Budget travel can get you really far, let me tell you how.

50 Countries and counting (and my parents haven’t paid for a cent of it)

Okay, I don’t want to sound too ranty, I just want you all to know that I fund my own travels. Recently I realized because I had two close friends bring it up, that most people think that my parents are funding me. Boy, I wish they were πŸ˜‰ My parents are amazing and they will help me out if I am in trouble – but they never funded my travel.

The point of me telling you this is that 2 years of travel is very attainable for anyone! Here is my step by step guide of how you can travel full time too:

Step 1.

Work really hard. Get a second job. Maybe get a third job. Who knows, could be fun. Do a cool little experiment where you see how long your body can go without sleep because you have too many jobs. Now you are going to be making a good chunk of money to make sure that you are saving a lot of it. But saving for travel is not what this article is about. You have already read about that EVERYWHERE, I know.

I have read EVERY article about how to save more money for travel and I have a feeling that you read the same stuff. So let’s skip that. You get it. Stop drinking $7 coffees, sell your car, sell a chunk of your liver, etc. None of this is new information.

Instead, I want to share with you how I went to 50 countries, over the span of 2 years and managed to make very little money along the way, and also spend very little along the way. That’s right, no freelancing, no toothpaste sales, no checks from mom and dad, I even still have a whole liver and I’m still traveling.

Hostels – the budget travel best friend

Two reasons why hostels are your new best friend. 1 – you could actually meet your best friend in one. 2- your bank account is gonna be a lot happier and healthier if you screw that $50 hotel for a $5 bunk bed. Just make sure that you read reviews. I recommend downloading the hostelworldΒ app and taking full advantage of reading others reviews and looking at pictures before you book something. Always go in with an open mind and try to remember that you aren’t wherever you are just to hang out in the room. You ‘re there to get out of the room and explore! Plan your next trip at hostelworld.com.

Couchsurfing – Do it!

I was so scared to go Couchsurfing. Honestly, I just thought that I was going to get robbed. Really though it is an amazing way to meet people. They have meetups and activities, plus if you are hanging out with locals, you are going to get the inside scoop to a city and that can help you save money! How couch surfing works, if you are new to it, is that you need to start by downloading the app. Then you just search where you want to go and you can read profiles of people that you could stay with.

Volunteer

I have always wanted to do more volunteer work, but it can be so hard these days when every program ends up COSTING you $4,000. Who can afford to pay all that money and then volunteer? Instead, I started reaching out to people when I was in different cities, to see if there was any work to be done. Hostels all over the world will let you volunteer in exchange for accommodation. Which means that you will be meeting new people and saving your bank account. Budget travel win!

I have also spent time at different animal reserves in Central America that will also help with accommodation and sometimes group meals if you are interested in volunteering with them. So I recommend that you just rock up when you land in a city and at least try to get your accommodation covered. (of course, this works best if you are trying to stay places for longer periods of time – which you should be doing because it is so much more fun)

Hitchhiking – But be careful!

Make sure that you are being safe and only hitchhiking in countries where you know it is legal and safe to do so. Or that you are hitchhiking with a buddy so that you aren’t alone. Whatever you do just make sure that you are careful! Places like Scandinavia are rather safe for hitchhiking. When I was in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, you saw people hitchhiking everywhere.

Camp!

Get outside in nature! Camping is a fun alternative to any accommodation and the perfect way to budget travel. I have had the opportunity to camp in many different countries and I loved it! Camping is so much fun, it gives you a chance to connect with nature and really get to know the world around you. Also when I was in Iceland, camping was the way to go! You can rinse off at hot springs, cook yourself some dinner and curl up in your sleeping bag for the perfect night under the neverending sun.

Our budget travel van in Iceland!

Free walking tours

These are actually the best thing that ever happened to the world. Actually, though, they are amazing. I love free walking tours. See the highlights of the city and learn what you should do next while getting a steal of a deal from a local and well-trained guide. The first thing that I do in any new city is research what companies offer free walking tours and then I sign myself up for the next morning. Or the same afternoon if time allows it.

Drink less

I know this isn’t a popular opinion but a great way to save money is to cut out alcohol. Boy, we all know how those expenses add up! Maybe skip a party or night out every once and a while. Your liver and your bank account will thank you. Drinking less may be the number 1 tip I can give you to budget travel.

Pitch

This is my favorite option that I honestly wish I would have known more about when I started. What I mean by pitch is that you can get your travel covered by tour companies, hotels and other. All you have to do is tell them why they should work with you. Create a media kit, highlight your strengths and then send it off. AΒ lot of hotels will host you for free in exchange for posts on social media and your blog. The more brands you have worked with, the more that will want to work with you in the future.

Okay so this may not seem like much, but it doesn’t take much. When it comes to travel, every dollar saved can be another day on the road. If you do it right. Now, on my way to 51, I am trying to figure out how I am going to get a new passport so I can keep this adventure going.

And hey, I always thought it would be fun to help others travel more. If you would be interested in traveling with me or having me help you plan the ultimate budget travel trip – let me know! I can be your personal travel agent.

Make sure to follow along with my adventure by subscribing or following me on social media. I will soon be posting about how to expedite your passport, start your online business and more!

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  • Alexis Rae
    October 28, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Ive used so many of these on my travels!

  • Shibani
    October 27, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Wow that’s an impressive count..50 countries!! Hats off to you. Although I’m more of a slow traveller but I would love to increase my travels. I have never stayed in a hostel, more of a hotel person – I think after reading this I am going to give it a try!! Hope I can utilise some of these to my travels as travelling from India is anyways expensive only!!

  • Lyne
    October 26, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    That’s crazy ! All of them really good tips.
    Most people assume that because you’re young it’s your parents that pays for you so I can totally understand you on this, we can work and earn our own money too ahah.

  • jin
    October 26, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    That’s definitely an impressive feat! And it’s so important to do most of the traveling in your 20s and 30s! I wish I had thought of pitching in my 20s, but that was almost 20 years ago and it wasn’t a thing like it is now. Although now I’m doing pitches, so it def helps lower the cost of traveling!

  • Melai
    October 26, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Love this! Not everyone has a rich background to fund their travels, so it’s good that you’re sharing “hardwork” is all that gets to it in the end. Add a bit of flexibility and ingenuity and you’ll reach far. πŸ˜‰

    Great job! May you conquer 50 more! πŸ™‚

  • Sophie
    October 26, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    I’ve only traveled to 14 countries but counting them up quick! So jealous of your travels – they look amazing! You made some awesome tips on how to save up and how to still save whilst traveling. I actually love staying hostels because of all the people I meet!

  • Maria Angelova
    October 26, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    This is inspiring and this exactly the way I travel (not to as many countries but still the same lifestyle). After some time, I realized one thing, though, that I no longer want to visit # countries but want to indulge in actually LIVING there, which includes spending more time, at least a month if I can.

  • Stefanie
    October 26, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Great accomplishment! I was already happy with my β€œ30 countries before I’m 30” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Lovely tips!

  • Jenn - The Solivagant Soul
    October 26, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I am curious about how much can you say I have traveled to 50 countries in two years. Have you set foot in one city and crossed off the country? I love to travel fast, but that I think it would be even too much for me… How much do you usually spend (time) per country? City?

    • justynjen
      October 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      I only count countries I have stayed overnight in. Not just stopped in. And i travel several months now but when I first started I would go to a new city almost every week!

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