Many people dream of ditching the 9-to-5 and traveling the world on the cheap — but not everyone actually does it. Elizabeth Sari decided she wanted to be a doer. A Los Angeles native, she studied psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, eventually getting her Master’s at the University of Southern California. After almost 10 years of study, she began practicing as a marriage and family therapist, specializing in trauma. She worked with clients in her hometown for a few years, but then she hit a plateau.

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Sari realized she needed to get out of her comfort zone and experience new cultures and new ways of thinking. She had been so focused on getting her degree and then a job, she didn’t have much of a work-life balance. She quit her therapist job and moved to Mexico with almost nothing except for a few thousand dollars and a small bag of her belongings.

If any of this story resonates with you, maybe you have a little wanderlust yourself. Good news: the temporarily nomadic lifestyle might just be attainable for you. With just a bit of planning, you can see the world on a dime, so to speak. Here’s how Elizabeth Sari did it.

Plan Ahead

Contrary to popular belief, spontaneity actually takes some planning. “You’ll be surprised with how a little research goes a long way. Sketch out ideas of places you want to go, and do some investigating to find out how much things cost and how local people get around to get an idea of a budget,” says Sari. “There is this feeling of urgency when you want to travel and experience other cultures. It’s romantic to just pick up and leave, but I promise you, doing a little work on the front end will give you more informed opportunities to be spontaneous.”

Check In With Your Network First

“I knew I wanted to live outside the United States, but I also knew budget would be an issue. So, I made a list of family and friends in different countries that I could lean on for support,” says Sari. We sometimes forget how well-connected we are with people around the globe who could offer opportunities to travel. “I made the move to Mexico because my cousin had a research firm there and was willing to give me a part-time job and a room to stay in. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, and the move essentially only cost the price of airfare.”

Reach out to your network and ask if people would be willing to host you for free or for a discounted rate. “I once stayed in the south of France because a friend of a friend needed help on her goat farm. I’ve seen a lot of the world by just offering to help around the house,” shares Sari.

Make Your Job Work For You

When first taking a job, it can be difficult to know how much flexibility you will have to take time off for travel. So what do you do if your job isn’t jibing with your desire to see the world? “Negotiate flexibility,” advises Sari. “I eventually took a job as a researcher in Mexico, but while discussing my salary, I asked to work three days a week so I could use the other time to explore the country. And they were more than happy to say yes.”

Carving out specified days to travel outside of your work hours will give you the luxury to explore new parts of the city you live in or to travel to other nearby destinations.

Think Outside the Bus

When it comes to traveling on a budget, public transportation is your friend — but also stay open to other forms of transportation that could serve your budget and your curiosity. “My first few months in Mexico, I would take the Turi Bus, a double-decker bus meant for tourists to hop on and off at different stops. It offered a two-day special for $6. It not only allowed me to get to know the city, but it also served as reliable, affordable transportation,” says Sari. Many cities have museums and other landmarks that offer free or low-cost admission. Finding things to do that are cheap or combine two or more needs — the way the Turi Bus combined transportation and tourism — can be a good way to keep your spending down while abroad.

Get a Good Credit Card

“A credit card is one of the most essential tools while traveling,” says Sari. “It offers a level of financial security you can’t get otherwise.”

Having a credit card with a low interest rate can prove to be an important tool, especially when traveling to multiple cities. “I probably spent six months of my time abroad taking weekend trips to different places — sometimes traveling to other countries — and knowing I had a credit card and didn’t have to bother with carrying cash or changing currency gave me confidence to explore without financial anxiety,” shares Sari. Some credit cards, like the Discover it card, also offer cash back rewards, and cash-back rewards that you can use toward future destinations.

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