My older sister used to tell me when I was younger that she someday expected to live in a wing of my house. In her opinion, I was going to be the moneymaker in the family.
Wellllll… flash-forward 20 years later and turns out I’m the bum without much, although I am rich in memories.
In fact, her husband many years ago (before I really started living abroad), when he heard my sister say that, looked at her strangely and said, “If anyone would be happy living in a shack in the middle of nowhere, it would be Annie.”
Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things. 5 star hotels are great if you can afford them and I definitely would love to eat fresh caught sushi all the time.
Literally, all the time…mm…
But it’s not my priority. Money never has been for me. The only concern I have with money is to save enough to go spend it on an awesome adventure.
Travel is my priority.
Of course this means that sometimes I have to buy a box of crackers and a hunk of cheese at the local market and eat this instead of whatever amazing cuisine I’m surrounded by. But I don’t really care because I always make it a point to try the local dish at least once, and then save my money for other things.
You can do a lot on very little, depending on what interests you. I am not a rich person. Planning ahead is hugely important, and always having a little buffer in case something goes wrong.
When I am just a working stooge, I don’t have a lot of expenses. I don’t get coffee out, I rarely go clothes shopping and I prefer to have friends over for dinner.
I don’t restrict myself either, if I want to go see the new blockbuster movie, I will. But it’s not my priority.
I am not saying that travel is what you should spend your money on. I’m saying if you want to travel more, you absolutely positively can without too much in the bank if you make it a primary ambition.
Set small goals- Put 100 bucks a month into a separate savings account and see how that feels. Didn’t notice? Make it 200. Set a pace that works for you.
Travel would not be interesting if you didn’t do fun stuff once you got there. Otherwise you’d be on a bus, get off, look around, get back on the bus and go home. Again, it’s about knowing what you really want to get out of your vacation.
For example, I love to scuba dive but this is not a cheap hobby. If I am going somewhere that has great diving, I’ll make sure to put aside a couple hundred so I can do this. It might mean that I miss out on some other random activity, but I am doing what I love so really, I win.
There will always be something that gets in the way.
Work, love, family, friends… life happens. But if you decide that you want to happen to life, then make it a priority. It can be a small weekend road trip to the biggest ball of yarn. It can be a quit your job 6 month adventure through South America. There are no rules, only goals.
The world will keep on spinning no matter the choices you make. I haven’t had a job for more than 2 years in a row, but I always find a new one. Right now, my career is not my priority so this suits me fine.
If you want to be the CEO of your company, then taking off for 6 months probably wouldn’t work out. But I imagine if you are reading this, it’s not currently your goal.
It’s hard to take the leap and get on the plane, train or automobile. But it’s SO WORTH IT. The experiences you have will make you a better employee, friend and lover. You looked the world in the face and didn’t blink. That takes courage.
Sometimes courage is trying again the next day. Sometimes courage is just making the decision to go, even if you don’t know when.
I feel like when people say they don’t understand how I “afford” to travel, most of the time they aren’t talking about money, but fear.
How do you afford to leave your job?
(Aren’t you afraid you’ll be jobless/poor forever?)
How do you afford to spend so much time abroad?
(Aren’t you afraid you’ll miss out on a lot?)
How do you afford to not speak with your family consistently?
(Aren’t you afraid they will forget you?)
All these questions have the same answer. I afford it because I choose it, and I make the rest of my life work around it. People think I spend thousands of dollars on travel, when in reality with a little bit of planning, you can go a lot of places for not a lot if you spend the time to research.
You make it work, if you want it to.
It’s this simple:
Save (little by little)
Budget (what can you spend a day?)
Research your destination
Use the Internet to speak/communicate with loved ones
In fact, my family comes to visit me all the time and we get to have adventures in foreign lands. Unless you live next to your parents and best friends, how often do you really see them?
Yes, you miss things. I’ve missed weddings and births of babies. Some people would tell me I’m selfish because I make myself a priority, but I would argue we all do this, I just do it in another place.
It can be difficult to realize you don’t have the money to attend that event back home. I guarantee your friends and family just miss you, and you can hang out when you’re home and give them some rad gift you picked out for them.
You can celebrate your relationship with them at anytime. If they love you, they will understand (and they always do). In fact, you might be an inspiration, and they will set out on adventures too!
How do you “afford” to travel?
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