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He saved $7,000 in 12 months and took off to travel the world

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Matthew Karsten once believed traveling was a hobby reserved for the rich. But, having spent  11 years as a full-time travel blogger and photographer, Matthew now knows that traveling is accessible to anyone—as long as they’re responsible with their money.

Matthew’s desire to travel began as a much-needed change of pace. He was passed up for a promotion at his unfulfilling freelance photographer gig and decided he’d do some soul-searching by heading out to see the world. By spending less, saving more, and seeking out extra cash opportunities on the side, Matthew was able to save $7,000 in just 12 months.

Most of us want to spend more time seeing the world, whether it’s a relaxing vacation on a Caribbean beach or a backpacking trip through the Himalayas. But, as is often the case, money is one of the main factors that keeps us from fulfilling such dreams. Here’s how Matthew was able to do it.

Budgeting for world traveling

How do you budget to travel the world? "The key is to keep reminding yourself what the goal is—and the payoff,” says Matthew. For him, the biggest challenge with saving up to travel was sticking to a plan. It was crucial to get his finances in order, but money management is an acquired skill—one that requires discipline to master. 

Whether it's for future travel or another big goal you have your eye on, a high yield Varo Savings Account can help you reach your savings goals faster with no fees and easy auto-saving tools to help grow your money.

“There are so many outside forces—and internal ones—trying to stop you,” explains Matthew. As was the case with him, these forces include: “Social pressure to spend money on going out every weekend, marketing pressure to buy stuff you don't really need, a lack of willpower to make the tough decisions. Downsizing to live a simpler lifestyle is tough, especially if you're used to a certain quality of life. The key is to keep reminding yourself what the goal is—and the payoff.”

Learning to take financial responsibility was key to Matthew’s savings journey. He came to the realization that nobody but him could control his finances, and began to budget ruthlessly, adopting new, more cost-effective habits.

“I'm a lot more careful with my spending than I used to be, and take a lot of time to think about every purchase,” he says. “Will I use an item on a regular basis? Will my life really improve greatly if I have it? Or will I be better off saving that money for a cool travel experience that will create unforgettable memories?”

Matthew traded in pricey nights out at the bar for hikes or at-home movie nights and began to master the art of cooking. He actively separated out his wants from his needs, and moved into an apartment in a cheaper neighborhood to cut down on rent.

“You have to get your head around the fact that social pressures are always going to be there. Remind your friends how important saving money is for you right now. Resisting the temptation to spend is tough, and you will have good days and bad days, but don’t let the latter distract you from your end goal," he said.

"Whenever I feel social pressure to spend, I go back to remembering my ‘why’. I focus on picturing myself lounging in a hammock on a beach somewhere, without a care in the world, all because I was able to stick to my plan.”

Seeing the world on a budget

Once you’ve taken the plunge and bought your flight, Matthew insists that traveling doesn’t have to be expensive.

Travelers can take advantage of the incredible budget hostels that exist around the world, as well as travel rewards credit cards, which allow you to earn points and miles as you travel. You can also save by eating at street food stands (often favored by locals) and skipping overpriced group tours. With a Varo Bank Account, travelers pay no foreign transaction fees and can manage their money through the app.

While Matthew doesn’t have a single favorite destination, some of his favorite travel experiences include road tripping around Iceland's Ring Road, seeing lava up close on the Big Island of Hawaii, and backpacking through the mountains of Afghanistan.

“Travel really opens your eyes to what's possible. You realize your own country isn't as perfect as you thought it was. You see what other cultures are doing well, and what problems they need to work on. You realize that the world is a safe place for the most part, with friendly people just trying to survive and take care of their families—we all have a lot more in common than we think.”

Seeing the world isn’t just a hobby for the rich, as Matthew can attest. But it does take some careful budgeting, disciplined saving, and smart spending both before and when you travel. With the right money mindset, think of the endless adventures that await you!

Unless otherwise noted above, opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed by customers or non-Varo contributors do not necessarily state or reflect those of Varo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC (“Bank”). Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s) other than Varo.

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