How I Afford To Travel: 1 Year, 15 Countries, And Just $2,000

One of the questions that I get asked the most is how I afford to travel. If you’ve ever seen my Instagram it would seem like I’m always jetting off to some new location and that I don’t have a concern in the world about money.

Well, believe it or not, Instagram isn’t real life. Shocking, I know. 😉

So today, I’m here to reveal exactly how I spent 1.5 years living abroad and visited 15 countries, when I only left my hometown with $2,000.  


1. Working Abroad

2016 was a pretty big year for me, and most of the epic adventures I had in 2016 took place while I was, believe it or not, working. I know it sounds crazy, but I promise I’m 100% serious.

After studying abroad in Florence, Italy over the summer of 2014, I made a connection with a tour guide at a student travel company. Months later, I applied and was hired to work as a sales person and tour guide for this very company.

With co-workers on a company retreat in Liguria, Italy

Essentially, through selling trips to students studying abroad in Italy, I was able to live in Florence in free company housing and travel all over Europe on the weekends.

During my time working for a student travel company in Florence, I visited 10 countries and over 20 cities. I traveled almost every weekend, and all of my expenses on these trips were covered. 

“One the job” in Capri, one of the locations where I lead tours.

If it sounds awesome, it’s because it really was. But don’t get me wrong, I was definitely working (really hard!), and as much as there are some really awesome perks to the job, there are some serious cons to consider. Long hours, working almost 7 days a week, running promotional events, constant social interaction, and less-than-stellar pay made this a difficult job that not everyone is cut out for.

Checking out the John Lennon Wall with coworkers in Prague

For me personally, the free travel outweighed (most of) the cons, and I had a blast leading students through so many places in Europe. I also worked hard enough to be the top seller at my company, which meant I made enough money to cover my expenses in Florence, and even save up for 3 months of travels through Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco (around $7,000).

Read my in-depth post all about Exactly How I Lived In Europe + Got Paid To Travel for more details about the job and its pros and cons! 


2. Blogging

I started this blog in August of 2015, and, believe it or not, by 2016 I had already begun to work with local (and not so local) businesses to write sponsored posts or attend press trips.

Sometimes, this just means I was sent products to review or showcase on Instagram.

Happiness is…falling in Firenze. 🙈 #happysocks #happinesseverywhere @happysocksofficial

A post shared by Catalina (@missadventuresabroad) on

Other times, it meant that I had the opportunity to cross riding a Vespa off my bucket list.

…Or spend 5 unforgettable days Glamping in Slovenia.

Or I would collaborate on an article.

I won’t lie to you, my inbox isn’t constantly filled with invitations to head out to exotic new locations, and my blog definitely isn’t paying my bills…yet!

I also don’t accept every opportunity that comes my way, I try to only choose opportunities that benefit my readers and my brand.

This year, I’m looking forward to seeing what opportunities present themselves as I continue to learn more and grow as a blogger.


3. Workaway

One of the most awesome ways I was able to afford to travel this year was through Workaway. If you haven’t heard of it before, Workaway is a site that connects travelers with people around the world who are willing to house them in exchange for some help.

This August, I spent 1 perfect month living in Greece (almost!) for free.

I used my savings from working in Florence to purchase a ticket to the gorgeous island of Skopelos (where Mamma Mia! was filmed), and spent a month paddle boarding, snorkeling, ATVing, and adventuring around the island.

In exchange, I worked about 5 hours a day helping manage a stand-up paddle boarding company’s social media, assisting with paddle board tours, cleaning a gorgeous villa, performing odd jobs like sewing and almond picking, and helping out around the house.

Needless to say, this was a great opportunity for me to travel to Greece and I had an absolute blast! I would highly recommend Workaway to anyone who is looking to travel without breaking the bank. You can read more about my Workaway experience here.


4. Budget Travel

Last but certainly not least, I used budget travel techniques to support my travel goals.

I saved much of what I earned in Florence, living frugally, but not stretching my earnings uncomfortably thin.

I organized weekend trips to awesome places like Budapest, and Tuscany’s amazing Val d’Orcia, where I stayed in budget accommodations, splitting the price of an affordable Airbnb with my travel partner.

A perfect weekend getaway in Tuscany’s (free!) Hot springs!

After leaving my job in Florence, I stored my stuff with a friend and proceeded to spend most of the money I earned in Florence traveling through Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco.

I flew budget airlines, spent many hours sleeping on buses and trains, slept in inexpensive Airbnbs and hostels, booked transportation months in advance, and set (and kept to) a well-thought-out budget. I also wrote out all of my expenses in a spreadsheet to track my spending.

Not everyone can just pick up their life and move abroad, but it certainly is possible to plan an affordable travel experience.

Subscribe or “Like” Miss Adventures Abroad on Facebook to stay updated on my budget travel tips-more will be coming to the blog soon!


Now you’ve discovered how I afford to travel, and that it is possible to have an amazing year filled with adventures in 15 countries when you only have $2,000 to start out with.

While my approaches to traveling may not work for everyone, I hope they inspire you to live your travel dreams and see that sometimes a little creativity goes a long way in making your travel goals come to fruition.


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8 Comments

  1. Alexandra on January 20, 2017 at 8:05 am

    I love the new layout !! And I wish we had the opportunity to meet up when I was still living in Florence! 🙁 x

    http://www.diaryofanexpatgirl.com

    • Catalina on January 25, 2017 at 6:45 pm

      Thank you so much Alexandra! I’m glad you like it! And I wish we had been able to meet too! That would have been so nice!

  2. ryan on February 4, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    what’s the name of the tour travel company in Florence?

    • Catalina on February 12, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      Hi Ryan! I spent a year working for FlorenceForFun!

  3. Danielle Theriault on March 10, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Nice post! It is always great to hear about how other people afford to travel. It looks like you’ve had a ton of great experiences! | http://ourpassportpages.com/

    • Catalina on March 11, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      Hello Danielle! Thank you! I always find it interesting too-mainly because I’m always searching for ways to travel!

  4. Susana Spencer on May 29, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing your passion . I’m definitely taking notes and will stay connected.
    Susana S
    BC? Canada

    • Catalina on June 2, 2017 at 2:45 am

      Thank you so much Susana! Happy travels!

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