Money comes and goes—or so I tell myself every time I buy a one way ticket to a place I did little to no research on prior to my departure date.
On a scale of free to deeply oppressed, I have accepted (much to my chagrin) that my financial background, until I can change it, will always leave me at imprisoned.
I got a tattoo last summer in Ghana; a simple phrase in Akan that embodies my approach to life: “kae me”. “Kae me” directly translates to “remember me” and it is my attempt at grappling the transient nature of life—how fleeting it is. In essence I ask myself everyday; “If I am to die today, who will remember me in a few years? How will I be remembered? And do I care?”
While I contemplate the existential questions that drive my motives in said life, I travel. It is how I feel most connected to the Earth and it is the one way I can feel myself grow. With that being said, I recognize the reality of traveling in a capitalist world and do my best to navigate it as much as I can—while making sure to stay afloat long enough to catch my next flight.
Now let’s talk about money:
Per the law, I am poor. A poor immigrant who managed to graduate from university debt-free (mostly). And so the question of how I can afford to travel haphazardly comes up more often than I wish it would and so I will use this blogpost to address that.
I have been a workaholic all my life due to the fickle nature of my family’s finances/ financial situations. In high school I worked over forty hours a week doing a job I loved and which paid quite well. Making so much money in a short amount of time built trust between my bank and I and so when I finally applied for a credit card, my credit line was quite impressive (for my age).
But, I don’t travel on borrowed money (a lot).
Every semester at university has seen a division of my time between part time jobs and side hustles like hair braiding and editing essays. I got into the habit of saving money early enough to figure out that I could save a good portion of my scholarship money by living in the outer boroughs instead of on-campus. During my junior year, I did make the regretful mistake of living with a friend in Manhattan, creating a dent in my savings plan (I wanted to save $10,000 before the year was over. I saved $2000 that year).
To get back on my feet, I got three jobs in one semester and an immensely energy consuming job the next. I have always known that after university, I would be solely responsible for my upkeep and so I have always acted accordingly.
At first I wanted to start a YouTube channel to find sponsorships for my travels but in China, every time I raised my camera to record a video, I found that I felt uneasy. It is quite hard for me to visually document my experiences for an audience because I become so heavily involved in my interactions with the world that I forget—or sometimes just feel awkward.
I do, however, love telling stories and so I think I will keep at it while I work five hundred jobs to be able to afford to tell those stories.
Some people work to save up to buy a house or a car or to send their children to good schools. I am twenty two and all I want to spend my money on is travel. And so that is what I plan to do until something more important comes my way.