Get out.

No, seriously, get out: out of your house, out of your mentality, out of your comfort zone.

Go from “existing” to actually “living.”

 

There’s an entire world outside your window. Being exposed to different environments, languages, cultures, customs, and ethnicities is an unexplainable yet remarkable feeling.

Many people never visualize themselves traveling because they’re convinced traveling is too expensive. I completely understand. Trust me, I’m the most frugal, penny-pinching person you’ll meet. I swore off traveling the world until I “had a six-figure salary.” That hasn’t happened (yet). And quite frankly, I was tired of letting finances be the reason for me not to enjoy life. I discovered that you don’t have to be “rich” to experience the riches of the world. You just have to be wise in budgeting your expenses and strategic with your timing.

how to travel on a budget

Last year, I took a leap of faith and moved from my small town in Virginia to a beautiful Caribbean Island called Puerto Rico. Since then, I’ve encountered dozens of travelers from all over the world who, ironically, work average jobs and make average incomes. They convinced me to become (even more) conscious about my savings and spending and to invest in exploring. So, I planned, saved, and went on my first trip (alone!) to another country: the Dominican Republic. It’s part of another island here in the Caribbean so it wasn’t too far for me, but definitely a wonderful experience.

And here’s the cool part, I was able to pay for everything out of pocket: flight, lodge, food, shopping, etc. And I didn’t break bank. How? Well, you already know I live the frugal life and budget. But I also did the research to find even more ways to save while traveling and still have unforgettable experiences! So let’s break this thing down:
ashley amor standing in front of a cathedral in Dominican Republic

Cathedral in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Airfare Discounts

  • Credit card travel rewards (these offer mileage or cash-back rewards whenever you spend)
  • Vouchers (volunteer to cancel your current flight trip for another date and you’ll receive a complimentary voucher equivalent to a roundtrip flight, depending on the airline)

Lodging

Affordable Lodging

  • Hostels (basically low-cost, non-traditional hotels and Bed & Breakfast spots)

When planning my trip to the Dominican Republic, I found this wonderful hostel listed on the HostelWorld website. The Island Backpacker’s Life hostel had great ratings and a co-worker of mine actually stayed there a year prior while traveling. The owner, Chris, was so down-to-earth. He moved to the DR from England and renovated an old building into this beautiful gem. When I arrived, it looked exactly as the photos on the website. Amenities included WiFi, breakfast, game room, movie room, air conditioned bedrooms with comfy beds, the pool (obviously), and the coolest staff. Not too shabby for $18 per night!

Ashley Amor's photo of Island Backpacker's Life Hostel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Island Backpacker’s Life Hostel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

  • Air B’n’B (People from all over the world rent out their homes, bedrooms, studios, etc. and list them on here for pretty affordable prices, depending on the location. You can search and book them on this website)

Free Lodging

  • HomeExchange
  • Nomador.com (international house-sitting)
  • Couchsurfing (similar to Air B’n’B, except it’s completely free! The “payment” is spending time with your host and building a friendship. Many people are courteous and still pay or offer to buy groceries, run errands, etc. for the host)
  • Housesitmatch.com

Budgeting & Planning

  • Find cheap Plane Tickets by checking dates that are off-season, non-weekend, and not during holidays. Also, don’t search on the airline’s website. Instead, use sites that compare prices, like CheapOair, Expedia, Travelocity, and even Google Flights
  • You have to learn how to manage your finances to help you save a little each month to put towards a trip. I explain budgeting and more here.

Whew! A lot to take in but definitely worth it. I’m currently saving up for another trip in a couple of months, this time, somewhere in South America. I’ll probably try couch-surfing the next time around!

Promise yourself no more excuses or setbacks. No money? No problem. Take it one day at a time to save, plan, and prepare.
traveling quote on wall at hostel in Dominican Republic

Wall Quote in Island Backpacker’s Life Hostel

How to Enjoy Being Single, blog post by Ashley Amor

The irony in being single is once you announce it, people react like it’s a disease:

 

“I’m single.”

“What? Really? How?!”

(point noted)

 

More often than not, people confuse being alone, with being lonely. Alone and lonely aren’t synonyms. Truth be told, there are plenty of people who enjoy their solitude, and unfortunately, also many out there who feel alone, no matter if they’re dating or surrounded by friends.

 

So the question is, “Which one are you?”

 

Are you embracing your season of singleness, or are you wallowing around feeling sorry for yourself? Let’s be transparent: many of us have thrown ourselves a pity party for being single (myself included). I completely understand. You attended three your friend’s weddings, your cousin recently got engaged, every post you scroll past on Instagram is of a couple with hashtag relationship goals, and your family is still asking you at every reunion or holiday get-together, “You met someone yet?”

 

The answer is still the same:

And honestly, what’s the rush?

 

Why are we wasting time comparing ourselves to everyone else’s life, instead of enjoying our own? That is the harsh reality I had to face, and afterward, I finally felt free. After seven years of being single, I love it. Why? Because I’ve discovered there are so many things we’re able to accomplish and learn while we’re solo, as opposed to being in a relationship:

 

  1. Personal Growth

Knowing who you are is one thing, learning how you are is another. When you’re single, you’re not focused on pleasing someone else or first impressions. You have time in your adult life to discover you: if you’re an introvert or extrovert, a morning person or night owl, overly sarcastic and witty (definitely referring to myself now haha), goal-oriented or laid back, as well as character traits you’d like (or need) to improve, such as respectfulness, productivity, and social skills.

 

  1. Traveling

Yes, it’s possible to travel the world as a couple, but going on your own is definitely an unforgettable experience (and not to mention, much cheaper). Being exposed to different cultures, societal norms, climates, and languages is truly humbling. It also builds your confidence. When you’re alone in a foreign land, you’re forced to step outside of your comfort zone, make new friends, learn new things, think outside the box, and tap into survival skills.

 

  1. Developing Your Career and Financial Stability

Time is of the essence; spend it wisely. Statistics have shown a correlation between financial problems and unsuccessful marriages. People who are in relationships are forced to divide their time and attention between work and their significant other. When you’re single, you don’t have to. You can work on paying off debt, improving your credit score, investing in your skills, and climbing the financial ladder BEFORE sharing a life with someone else.

 

  1. Building True Friendships

Everyone you meet is not going to be your spouse, but they can play a significant role in your life. Keep this mindset. It is very possible to meet someone of the opposite sex and join forces, not as a marriage, but as partners in business, professions, ministries, and so on. When you’re single, you can consciously build an authentic friendship with someone and identify their purpose in your life, whether it be for a season or for a lifetime.

 

  1. Strengthening Your Relationship with God

The most important thing you can do right now in your season of singleness is work on your intimacy with God. As a Christian, I knew that this was the most important relationship of my life. I couldn’t expect anyone to desire spending time with me, learning who I am, or to effectively love me, if I wouldn’t do the same with the God I believe is the Creator of all things. Being single gave me time to focus on God’s will for my life, edifying my gifts and talents, and discovering who I am through Christ. When you’re single, there is no one distracting you from reading the Bible, increasing your prayer time, and emotional healing.

 

Last, but not least, remember that things aren’t always as they seem. We’re all too familiar with celebrity couples, and even family and friends, who were married or in relationships that looked perfect on the outside, but behind closed doors dealt with infidelity, abuse, and other issues. Don’t believe the hype. What is meant for you will come in due time. Until then, enjoy life, love yourself, follow your dreams, and move to a beautiful Caribbean island (like I did, haha).

ashley swimming in lake in puerto rico

Remember when you were a kid, that time you asked your parents, “Can I drive?”

Their answer was the obvious, “No.” (Or a loud, obnoxious laughter in place of an answer, if you had a dad like mine.)

Although hurtful, receiving a “no” was actually a good thing. Our parents, as harsh as as their answer felt, knew what was best for us. Putting car keys in the hands of a child would’ve been more than a threat to our lives. Eventually, they allowed you to drive, once you were of age and trusted behind the wheel. So, technically, their answer wasn’t a “no.” It was a “not now.”

I believe life happens that exact same way.

A new job, a promotion, college acceptance, a loan, new opportunities. Sometimes, we’re so eager to hear a “yes,” that receiving a “no” feels worse than a stab wound. It can crush the spirit, making people doubt themselves and lose hope.

Was I good enough?

Will I ever succeed? 

When will my time come?

We can come up with 50 reasons why we should mope around and be upset, yet never consider that it probably wasn’t the right time. Think back to your childhood. How many things did you want before you were tall enough, strong enough, mature enough, and wise enough to have or handle?

Throughout my adulthood, I’ve realized on more than one occasion, hindsight, that I wasn’t ready for things I wanted. There were jobs that I applied for, that never called me back. There were people I tried to maintain in my life, who fell off the radar. There were creative ideas I shared with various people, who never took them into consideration. But looking back, the time wasn’t right.

If things had went my way back then:

  • I never would have applied for other jobs that hired me and offered more 
  • I never would have met and befriended the new, amazing people in my life today who encouraged and supported me
  • I never would have mustered up the courage to launch my dream career as a writer

When things don’t go our way, consider that maybe it was for our benefit. If the time was right, your mindset was not. If your was mindset was right, the time was not. However you look at it, dwelling on the shoulda, coulda, woulda doesn’t change anything. Don’t allow a “no” to be your setback.

Trust that what is meant for you will come in due time. And when it does, you’ll be ready.

Who am I?

I could tell you I’m a successful, perfect woman who always had her life together. . .but if I did, it would be a lie.

To start, I was the type of person that camouflaged my feelings, living day to day wearing an artificial smile. Anxiety disorder, depression, and insecurities were running rampant in my life. I was prideful, thinking I could handle whatever life threw my way all on my own. Unfortunately, I had pushed myself into a deeper ball of confusion, frustration, and emptiness.

Then, I found Christ.

God revealed Himself to me while I was at rock bottom, that mental state where I literally have no other option but to surrender my pride and accept help. I believe that’s the beauty in humility.

Fast forward seven years, I accumulated an indescribable boldness in faith, moved to a Caribbean island (Puerto Rico to be exact), and became a freelance writer (my dream career). During my personal journey, I had the privilege of helping others overcome anxiety, insecurities, and encouraged purposeful living. I love how God uses me to motivate, inspire, and influence people in a positive light.

And thus, the birth of this blog.  I believe God places words of wisdom on my heart everyday to share with the world. Unlimited advice, poetry, stories, and knowledge that can enhance life skills and motivate anyone to become a better version of oneself.

Peace & love,

Ashley