How I Afford Traveling the World By Myself at 21

I don’t travel through any type of program. My parents do not give me money to travel. I don’t have a sugar daddy. There are no travel agents or booking companies that are on standby. I just travel by myself. 🙂

 (Edit: any way of travel is good travel).

Ahhhhh, yes. The question I receive numerous times on the daily.

“How do you do all of this?”

First and foremost, I have learned and still continue to learn “how to travel” every time I step foot somewhere rather than my home state Michigan.

  • $$$: So basically….I work at a restaurant. Aaaaaaand I work there a lot. I save my money. This is the most important thing I can tell you, folks. Spending your money on NEEDS not WANTS. You won’t see me in the Starbucks drive-thru every morning waiting on a Java Chip Frappe to wake me up. You won’t catch me at Applebees for half-off appetizers every Friday night. I don’t go shopping all of the time. I. Am. Cheap. As. Hell. Don’t get me wrong – I go out and have fun sometimes. Just do it wisely. If I do that – I’ll probably pick up an extra shift that week or next. Learning to be a minimalist and learning how to save money is the first step to traveling. Because if you don’t have money… you can’t buy that first plane ticket.

—– How my mind works: “$32 for a cute shirt? Do I need that? No. $32 is a week of accommodation in Thailand. I’m fine.” Self-control….holla!

  • Flights: Speaking of plane tickets…..those can be expensive. My secret weapon for flights is using Skyscanner. There CAN be some tricks to booking your flight – which I have found to be true quite often. Booking your ticket on a Tuesday afternoon around 7 weeks before your trip can typically give you the best price. Of course this isn’t always the case….but it does work a lot. Sign up for e-mail alerts and check your flights daily. Sometimes you’ll find the prices drop dramatically one day – juuuuuuust book it. I’m someone who does a lot of things last minute and I never really have issues with it, either. Meh.
  • Accomodation: This. This. This. This is my #1 money saver, okay? How do I afford traveling? I never stay in a hotel. You heard it here first. I either…

1. Couchsurf, which is free and life-changing. I love staying with locals because they are always INCREDIBLE people/families and I LOVE being able to live day-to-day like a local. There’s nothing quite like it. I still talk to all of my Couchsurfing hosts except like… Good people, good people.

2. Stay in a hostel , which is so disgustingly cheap in so many countries. I typically lean towards using HostelWorld for booking my hostels because it’s easy to use, has all the information you need, and it’s safe/reliable. Example: The photo below is a hostel that I stayed at in Indonesia for almost $6 a night. Yeah…..SIX DOLLARS. I usually stay in the largest mixed room because it’s cheapest. They have female/male only dorms, mixed dorms, or you can rent out your own room. The more people in the room – the cheaper. I’ve stayed in hostel rooms with 20+ people but most tend to have 6-10 beds on average.

Puji Hostel in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
3.  Volunteering is another super awesome way to travel. The two websites I use are WWOOF or typically I like to use WorkAway. In most cases, you will work for ___ hours a week doing some odd job wherever you find yourself – and instead of getting paid, you receive free accommodation and SOMETIMES free meals. You can do some really cool jobs and learn how to live a more sustainable lifestyle doing this. Highly recommend.

4. AirBnB is an option that I sometimes use if I want to be alone or have a “luxurious” night somewhere. I rarely use AirBnB because I’d rather stay with people – and I’ll never book a room that is more than like $25-$30 a night. That’s too much for a night, haha.

  • Food: This depends on where I am, I suppose. But basically – I don’t go out to restaurants for every meal. I tend to lean towards accommodation that offers a free breakfast. That’s always nice. If I’m not receiving meals, depending on my location, I still tend to eat for super cheap. If I’m in Europe, for example, I’ll stop into a grocery store and pick up bread/meat/cheese/fruit/veggies for cheap and that’ll hold me over for a couple days. Cook your own food. Always look for hostels with kitchens! If I’m in Asia, it’s harder for me to find grocery stores and places to cook. What isn’t hard to find, however, is street food. And this isn’t nasty, unhealthy, street food. This is authentic rice, meat, and veggies that I can become full off of for less than $5. I also tend to eat a lot of fruit when I travel because fruit is primarily cheap everywhere and I could consume fruit for the rest of my life. I do go out to a restaurant every now and then, especially in cheap countries. I like to go out with people I meet in hostels and my couchsurfing hosts. Just be smart about it.
  • Shopping? Souvenirs? Yes, of course I do some shopping when I travel. Nothing extreme. I’ll pick up souvenirs for my parents and my closest friends. I don’t have a lot of room in my backpack and I don’t buy anything heavy because I have to carry that thing on my back for hours at a time sometimes….so not havin’ that. But clothes that I can fold up and little knick-knacks are always good options.
  • Activities: This is what I spend the most money on when traveling – but it’s always worth it. Things like skydiving, scuba diving, paragliding, riding on a gondola in Venice, swimming with sharks, etc….etc….etc….I have ideas on activities that I want to do in certain cities/countries and I always try to allow myself to do them. If that means I have to pick up extra shifts at work or maybe I don’t eat dinner for two days… be it. LOL.
Scuba diving in Hawaii
  • Misc: TREAT YOSELF……wisely. I’ll buy a dessert and I’ll go out and have drinks with people I meet along the way. If I go to Madrid, Spain….you KNOW I’m going to invest in some amazing churros and if I’m in Paris you KNOW I’m going to indulge on some Nutella/Strawberry crepes. And yeah, I’m going to throw back a couple 75¢ beers in Asia with people I meet at my hostel. Also: in some countries you can get full body massages for like $20 soooooooo. Whateva. Life’s too short. TREAT YOSELF. Just don’t be stupid.

Hopefully this blog post helped answer your questions – and hopefully it inspires you and made you realize that traveling the world is SO possible. If you want it – go get it.

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me:

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration almost daily – @waddupkim



How I Afford Traveling the World By Myself at 21

HOSTELS: and why you shouldn’t believe any bad assumptions about them.


Answer: No, I haven’t seen the movie “Hostel”, nor will I ever watch it. 

People, people, people. We gotta stop believing everything we see in movies. Hostels are the and you have to experience at least one in your lifetime. 

Why? Let me tell you a little somethin’ somethin’.

When I’m not couch surfing, I’m staying in hostels. If for some reason I just can’t find a perfect host in a city, or maybe plans fall through….hostels are my life saver. 

Hostels are GREAT if you’re smart. I use to search and book my hostels. 

Now, here are the best things about hostels. And why I don’t stay in hotels.

$$$: They are soooooo perfect for travelers because it gives you a nice bed to sleep in….for an awesome price. Depending on the city you’re staying in, some can be a bit pricey where you don’t really get your money’s worth (ex: Venice, Italy). But MOST are worth every dollar/euro/franc/DKK/NOK/whatever you pay. On average I usually spend about 20-35 euros/dollars/etc a night at hostels. 

Bedding: No, you’re not going to be sleeping on a blanket on a cement floor. Hostels have beds – and actually, some of them are quite comfortable. They provide you with clean sheets, blankets, and pillows when you arrive.  

 Example! My bed in Interlaken, Switzerland – Backpackers Villa Hostel.

Facilities: Hostels also offer high-five-worthy facilities. Some have free wifi, breakfast, different activities to join, lockers, kitchen services, hot showers, laundry, air conditioning or heat, some have terraces, 24/7 reception, and more. Now, not every hostel is going to offer all of these. But a lot do. Hint: when you’re traveling: wifi, breakfast, lockers, and laundry services are super important to look for. 

Activities: Depending on where you are at in the world, a lot of hostels offer joinable activities to their guests. Free walking tours, bike tours, pub-crawls, game nights, movie nights. When you’re by the water, some even offer surfing lessons or beach days. The possibilities are endless – and every hostel and destination is going to be different!

Common area: So most hostels have a common area. Some are small, some are huge. Some have chairs, stools, hammocks, or beanbag chairs. Some have ping-pong tables, pool tables, and other games and activities. Common areas are…..common…..for hostels. See what I did there? They’re great because this is typically where you find your travel friends. Ya know, the ones you meet, add on Facebook, and try to keep in touch with?

 Lisbon Destination Hostel – Lisbon, Portugal.

 Backpackers Villa Hostel – Interlaken, Switzerland.

Friendships: Dude. This is probably the best part about hostels. You make so many friends. Typically the friendships start out during a mean ping-pong tournament or maybe a pub-crawl when you guys get so-totally-wasted together and build an everlasting friendship together thanks to free shots of tequila. But when you’re traveling alone, especially, this is great. This makes you avoid the loneliness. You meet people from all over the world, build your connections, and do some awesome things together. Example: When in Switzerland, a girl named Kira from Utah, USA complimented the tattoo of the world on my ankle….a couple hours later I had her go paragliding through the Swiss Alps with me. When I was in Portugal, a girl named Latifha from The Netherlands asked me if I was going to the beach because I was in my bathing suit. 20 minutes later we were on a train together going town-to-town and adventuring. When in Copenhagen, I met a girl named Johanna at midnight when she asked me where to get a towel. The next day we ended up hanging out, going to dinner with a large group from our hostel, and staying up until 3 AM drinking tea and talking.

So no. Hostels aren’t unsafe, terrifying, experiences. And this is just a very short and sweet explanation of hostels. You’re not in a jail-cell type room, sleeping with one eye open because you’re scared you’re going to get stabbed in your sleep. You’re actually in a bed you get to call your own for the time being, and sleeping like a baby because you probably had a kick-ass day in whatever city you just spent your day in. 


Please don’t believe everything from movies. Hollywood sucks. Hostels do not. Try it.

 My 6-person dorm in Copenhagen, Denmark at Copenhagen Backpackers.  10-person dorm at Lisbon Destination Hostel in Lisbon, Portugal.6-person dorm in Madrid, Spain at Room 007 hostel.

I’ve stayed in many hostels – this isn’t even half of them. But every experience has been great. I’ve never felt unsafe or uncomfortable. You meet amazing people and build long lasting friendships. You get to sleep in your own bed, take a hot shower, and sleep when you want. They’re relaxing. A home away from home. And my advice to you, my friends: JOIN THE PUBCRAWL. Spend the 12 euros to get drunk with strangers and hate yourself as you chug down that free shot. I don’t care if your flight leaves at 5 AM the next day. Do it. 

– xoxoxo, Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS •

HOSTELS: and why you shouldn’t believe any bad assumptions about them.