I got asked this question so many times in person, on Instagram or Facebook: “Tuni.. you are a student, how can you afford to travel all the time?” First of all, I do not travel full-time but am a full-time Bachelor student and also, none of my trips this year were sponsored by any companies, agencies, hotels or my parents and family. All the places I visited and stayed in were all paid from my own savings.
But how did I travel 10 countries in the past 12 months?
This year I traveled to Germany (Berlin, Hamburg, Nuremberg and Lake Constance), France & Monaco, China (twice to Beijing), Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea and I am currently studying in Taipei. I tell you a bit about each trip in this article.
I would say that I am extremely, maybe too focused, on saving up for my next trip. I don’t prioritize my grades in university for example. I feel that average grades are something I can live with, as long as I can spend more time doing what I love and working student jobs that fulfill me. Also, when I speak about working in this article, I do not include my blog. I have next to no income this year from blogging and solely do it because I love to. The ad revenues cover the costs for maintaining the blog and website itself, other than that I haven’t work for any paid sponsorships and all my articles were written because I just enjoy writing them 🙂
Anyway, let me tell you advices and seven things I did in 2017 to travel around so much:
- Working next to studies
As I said before, I don’t put as much time into studying as I sometimes should do to get an A or even B. Instead I took up 2 student jobs (as a content writer for a Danish-Chinese online magazine and Social Media Assitant for a Danish furniture brand) and in addition, I work as a babysitter and also have one more freelance job in translating and writing SEO texts for a Marketing company. I also used all kinds of connections and websites to find weekend jobs, such as for the Copenhagen Fashion Week. And I set up a webshop and Etsy shop with posters and earned just enough as a registered self-employed person to not pay too much income tax so it would be profitable. I shut down the project after a year. Combined with my full-time study, I am quite busy and have things to catch up with when I am in Copenhagen and not traveling. My advice: Search for upcoming local events or fairs to find an assistant job you can do for a few days. After taxes, I earned around 200$ working a weekend for a local event – that’s a return ticket within Europe (or when you are in Asia: within Asia). If you speak multiple languages you can look into summer jobs or similar abroad, so you can combine work with a little trip in that country before or after your work is done. More about it below 🙂
- Do what I love and let it be your drive
I have been very lucky to find student jobs that are both flexible and more important, I do what I love. I really enjoy going to work and both my stable student jobs encourage me to be creative. Also, the colleagues, managers, bosses, and atmosphere were all very relaxed and enhanced my creativity.
By going to two different companies each week, I don’t feel any boredom, since I can switch between content creating and writing articles about Danish lifestyle, design and more. If you followed my articles for a while, you might know that my personal interests revolve around expat and international lifestyle, cultural differences, architecture, and design. Especially writing has a relaxing effect on me, so some days I rather choose to write for hours instead of watching Netflix or reading a book. All this combined makes me really love going to work every time and I work quite often in my free-time and on weekends. Well, I like it, unless it’s raining but that has nothing to do with work itself, it’s just the fact that I have to bike through the rain and look like a wet mess when I arrive 😀
- Different priorities
So you might wonder, how the hell do I manage all this? Work, study, Instagram & blogging, friends, family living in another country? I cut off other things in life and go to work instead of going out, studying or visiting friends and family outside of Copenhagen. My close friends understand and don’t wonder why I might disappear for a month without seeing them. I keep in touch with them as much as I can. My parents in Germany support me from afar. We skype and I visit them every other month. I also never put as much time and effort into relationships as it might be needed and focused on my own, personal goals rather than cut down a bit and prioritize a relationship with another person. For me, I feel like I am at the time in my life where I need to be egoistic for my own sake. I am in my mid-20s, I want to travel, study and live wherever I want and do whatever project or work I want to, without having to take another person into consideration.
Does it get lonely at times? Yes. But then again, not only working and being creative, but the days under palm trees or strolling around a busy CBD, discovering a new city and admiring architecture make me very happy as well. No one can have it all. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like people and cut my friends loose. I just didn’t spend as much time with them as I could . I take the time and energy for my own projects. It doesn’t mean that I can’t compromise or am a working robot without feelings. In the beginning of my semester, I met a person in Taipei for whom I felt like I could have changed. For the first time in years I thought, compromises and changing plans aren’t as bad when you get such great happiness in return. Also change is wonderful, it does not mean you have to give up something, you can adapt. It gave me another perspective on things. Sadly (or luckily, in a way it’s both) for me, the person did not feel the same way at all and I was very lucky and blessed to have the greatest friends here and afar. They put me back together, helped me through it and made sure I focus on myself. This has changed me and that experience has shown me so much. One of the things is that I want to find more time for my friends, be with them more often than I used to when I was in Copenhagen and not only text, but skype or voicemail them more frequent than before.
- Lucky to live in Denmark (or Europe in general)
As you might see, I prioritized traveling over anything else in my life and it’s what I save up for. Moreover, I am very lucky to live in a country where I don’t pay tuition to study and minimum wage is around 17 USD per hour for a student job (before taxes, which are roughly 40%, which still makes a minimum wage of over 10 USD an hour). This is a big difference to my American friends, who can’t afford traveling all summer because they have tuition to pay for and maybe took a loan from a bank or their family to pay their study – whereas I even get paid to study in Denmark because I work in here and therefore fulfill the country’s standard to get the Danish financial support for students. But keep in mind though that I have to pay expensive rent for 8sqm, high living in costs and almost 40% taxes in Denmark as well. Therefore around 80% of my student grant SU is for my rent solely. I can’t give you any advice, I am just lucky being an EU citizen and studying for free.
- Work remotely
I can work, while not physically being in the office. Often I take work home or right now, I work remote from abroad and send in my texts and edits. I met some people during my exchange semester this year, who identify as “Digital Nomads” and just work from wherever.
My advice: You don’t have to go as far as working as a Digital Nomad, but try looking into content writing or translation jobs if you speak more than one language, offer proof readings for non-native speakers, work on graphic designs next to your studies, set up an Etsy shop, create and distribute what you are good at – and take some work home to do on a lazy Sunday. If you have a passion and strength for something, try to use it to find small jobs on the side. There a people who create Memes for a living, you will find your niche if you look hard enough 🙂 Pro-tip: Declare all your (expected) income and change your tax card before the end of the fiscal year, otherwise you will have a bad surprise when paying back the taxes for freelance work and self-employment.
- Combine trips with internships or exchange
This was a big factor why I could travel that many countries in just a year. I knew since I started my Bachelor’s that I will have a semester abroad in Asia. This was a goal I worked towards for 2 years: I wanted to save as much money as possible to travel during my exchange. Traveling within Asia is not as expensive than traveling from Europe to an Asian country, obviously. During my semester here in Taipei, I choose my own time schedule and courses and prioritize on having a long weekend. My weekend starts Thursday midday when my last course is done and I used these 3 to 4 days to travel short weekend trips to closeby places such as Hanoi, Seoul or Macau. Again, I prioritized traveling over my studies and I choose the courses only on two factors: it must be relevant to my studies at home and it shouldn’t be after Thursday 2 pm.
Some other examples, last year when I did an internship in Lyon, I took the chance and paid only 20$ for a bus to Nice, which was around 7 hours away and had a beach getaway for 2 days. In April I visited my parents in Nuremberg during Easter and I left 2 days earlier to take a bus and stop by Berlin before heading back to Copenhagen. In May, I was lucky to get a weekend job at an event in Monaco and carpooled for less than 20$ to Lyon, 8 hours away. My advice: Try to arrange a short vacation whenever you can, take a bus, slow train or carpool – you get a small get-away for little money 🙂
- Cut the luxury
I mean it in many ways. I remember one of my good friends asking me why I don’t pay for Amazon Prime and use my brother’s instead. That’s because I rather save the few bucks, simple as that. I prep meals for a few days, so I don’t tend to eat out, I choose the cheapest gym option, I don’t get my eyelashes or nails done, I don’t go out eating in restaurants or visit bars for drinks in Copenhagen (because it’s so darn expensive, for one night out in Copenhagen I could actually fly low-budget to another European city). All these little things add up in a year.
I also check buses instead of trains or flights when I go to Germany to visit friends and family for a weekend. Within Europe, you can go to another country by bus with less than 40$ both ways. Stay with friends and acquaintances (and return the favor and host them when they are in your city).
Also, cut some luxury when traveling. I choose other airlines over Emirates or SAS and, of course the service is not as nice or the flights aren’t direct, but I can live with it. Abroad, I don’t cut as much “luxury” as at home in Denmark though, I spoil myself and eat out, go out and shop way more. But that’s mainly because Denmark is so expensive, so when I leave Copenhagen and go abroad, everything seems cheaper.
My advice: Cut some luxury in your daily life to spoil yourself big time during your travels.
Enjoy life your way
So to sum things up, I work and neglect my studies and just pass my exams. I don’t go out and don’t spoil myself in Denmark as much, and sometimes, I don’t see my friends as often as I should. Life seems easier and somewhat glamorous on my Social Media, I know, especially when I post vacation pictures (more than my work days). But in life, everything comes with a price. I am honest, it is all exhausting at times and some days it drains me but on the other hand, I was doing everything to the extreme because I left Denmark to go on exchange. And even though I still study and work a bit from here, it’s not nearly as bad with all the Dumplings and Bubble Tea around me, the trips I take every other week and the dinners and parties I go to with friends. I can really enjoy and spoil myself now while I am abroad. Things always look easier from the outside but after all, it’s hard work that pays off 🙂
This was a recap of my year and the last post on Metropolife in 2017. This year has given me so much, so many new impressions, places, friends and supportive people, projects and life lessons. I feel beyond lucky to have experienced all this, good and bad, short or long. I also feel so grateful for all the love and support I get from my blog readers and Instagram followers on a daily basis. The comments, private messages and critic I receive from you all makes me incredibly happy and I want to thank you for being supportive, reading my articles, following me wherever I go ❤️ I wish you all a great start into 2018, lots of joy, love and moments of pure happiness (and many amazing trips and vacations).
Sending you lots of love from Taipei, Tuni 🙂
Thank you so much for reading, check out my time in Taiwan and China with my latest articles My life in Taiwan compared to Taiwanese Dramas and Friendships and relationships with a due date when being abroad. Hope you will like them as well 🙂
LET’S STAY IN TOUCH
German-born Vietnamese 📍 in Taipei
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