What? Why? How?… are the common questions asked when I tell people about my $22,000 at 22 adventure. Let me share how it all began.
I was born in Russia and lived there until I was 8 years old. I always had family in Australia because during the war my grandmother’s Aunt moved to Perth and started her catering business. She left an inheritance to my grandmother which allowed her to move to Australia. I remember flying to Australia and other countries at a young age. I always loved flying to Australia, which was the furthest I had ever gone, because it meant that there was no bed time and I wouldn’t need to sleep. Even as a little one I had the travel bug.
Europe was my first big parent free adventure at 18. From then, I travelled each year during my university breaks but I always had constraints of time, returning home for work or uni. It was during my first solo adventure in Brazil that I thought I would love to travel spontaneously for a whole year. My friend told me about her dad who was doing 50K at 50. He had saved up $50,000 and was going to travel until it ran out. I was so inspired and loved the idea. That was it… I was going to do $22,000 at 22.
There is so much emphasis on turning 21 and once it happens it’s all over until the big three-0. So I decided to make my year of 22 one to always remember. The end of 2015 was nearing, meaning the end of my university life and it would soon be time for adulting. I was in the same boat as most, feeling lost, confused and simply…not ready. I decided to embark on the ultimate gap year to help me decide on what I wanted to do next (as cliche as that sounds). I’ve never lived out of home so I wanted to push myself, and break through my comfort zone.
Now to the grand finale, how can a 22 year old have $22,000 to travel? I’ve always been a great saver due to my thriftiness and spend-less skills. I would save for my uni break trips and then completely over budget and come back with cash which I would then set aside for my next adventure.
Seeing as I always dreamed of this long trip, throughout 2015 I worked really hard to make the 22k. There were a few luxuries I had to give up, like freshly brewed coffee at my favourite coffee shop and take away lunches. I had to pick up some not so glamorous shifts. It took me 6 months to save $7,000 to top up my savings to $22,000. Want to know how? Click here.
How did you plan everything? Is another popular question and the answer is I didn’t. My focus of the trip was to be spontaneous. So I just booked a one way ticket to Hawaii and the twelve months of the unknown began with very minimal organisation in between.
Twelve months turned into thirteen. The $22,000 at 22 adventure took me to 10 countries and 52 cities throughout 13 months. To be honest with you, I never finished my adventure because I returned home before all the money ran out. I wanted to renew my Russian passport before the European summer began. I never expected to last 13 months, especially after my rocky start in the States (spending a whopping $2,500 USD in 3 weeks), let alone return home with money. The biggest surprise of all was the amount I returned home with… I came back home with $9,000 and I believe you can too. You just need to be thrifty! Get started with my budget travel tips here.