6 Countries, 3 Continents in 1 Year – How I Afford to Travel as a Teacher

That’s right, my friends! This year, I traveled to six countries and three continents without spending a ton and working toward my 30 by 30 goal. Keep reading because I promise it’s possible.

I am very strategic in how I plan trips, how much I spend, and where I go. In this post, I’ll outline for you how to travel with a full-time job to so many places.

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visit tampa bay like a local

First, a little about me and my lifestyle…

While I was a teacher, I made an average teacher’s salary while living in DC (one of the most expensive cities in the United States to live in). Yes, I have student debt, yes, I have a car payment, and yes, I have rent to pay and live alone. 

I am not a millionaire or living large in DC! I want to say this because I’m a fairly average middle class 20 something with some debt and bills to pay each month. I don’t have wealthy parents or money I inherited from someone. I find ways to make it work and stretch my money. A steady income is something I do have, and I am lucky for that.


But, don’t you have summers off because you’re a teacher? That made it easier, right?

Actually, no. I worked at a year-round school. I had a month off (which is a lot, I admit), but I don’t have three months to go backpacking each summer. Because of my schedule as a teacher, I had time off when everyone had time off, so it ended up actually being some of the most expensive times of year to travel. 

To make the most of your time off, create a three-day weekend for trips, take your vacation days when there is already a holiday you have off, or you can work remotely. 

What countries did you visit this year?

This year, I visited Zambia, Botswana, UAE, France, Turkey, and Greece on three different trips.

Now that I’ve got those out of the way, here is how I make it happen.

three days in livingstone zambia by victoria falls

The money

  1. I cannot emphasize this enough: get a travel credit card! I’ve been able to purchase so many flights, car rentals, and hotels through my credit card rewards. I have a card through Wells Fargo that offers cash rewards with 2X points on travel, food, gas, and the like. I pay the card off each month and use the points to travel.
  2. I have the Southwest Chase card, and it’s great. Earn enough points, and you get a companion pass for someone to always fly with you for free—the best part of having the card! When you sign up, you get 40,000 bonus points. Find out details here.
  3. I babysit part-time to pay for my travels. I try to take enough jobs to make an extra $100 a week. This usually averages out to one-weekend job or two weeknight jobs every week. They are pretty simple, where I spend most of the time sitting on the couch after the kids have gone to sleep, but they provide me with extra income for travel.
  4. I also keep a budget specifically for travel and use bonuses at work to pay for my adventures. I did a fellowship with an organization and received $2000. Zambia, here I come! I got an award at work for $750—time to go to Denver!

The places

I have an entire post about how I always find the cheapest tickets, but long story short, I pick locations that are on sale.

  1. I pick spots that are an excellent deal and fit my price range. I have $600 for a plane ticket. I can search for possible deals around the world (I’ve seen flights all over for this price, by the way!). I’ve been to Peru, Greece, and Paris, all on my $600 budget. It’s possible to visit incredible bucket list spots for less-than-average prices—just be flexible. If there is a place you are just set on visiting, it can be more challenging to visit on a budget or a lot of different places in one year.
  2. Flexibility and planning are huge factors in visiting so many places. Use flight calendars on travel websites to find the cheapest dates and maps on sites to find the destinations. Search on Google for “average flight price in X” to see what a decent price is. Don’t overpay for a flight; it’s the biggest cost for international travel!
  3. Stretch your money by looking at flights with long layovers that most people would see as inconvenient. Turn it into another destination! These flights are often way cheaper because of long layovers or inconvenient stops. Yes, inconvenient, but if you can save $300, it can be worth the extra two hours in travel time.

How do you afford to travel as a teacher? There are many different ways travel can be more affordable and I share all my tips and tricks here.
How do you afford to travel as a teacher? There are many different ways travel can be more affordable and I share all my tips and tricks here.

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