“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage. I spent a large part of my youth traveling the world as a hippie. And what money did I have then? None. I barely had enough to pay for my fare. But I still consider those to have been the best years of my youth.The great lessons I learned has been precisely those that my journeys had taught me.”
I know you. You look through countless of travel blogs, browse through the travel section of the bookstore, read Lonely Planet guidebooks, and National Geographic magazines. You’re in love with city maps, atlases, and globes. You get shivers down your spine when you run your fingers down the tiny blood veins on a map as if it was breathing and coming alive. And it says to you, “Buy a god damn ticket and explore me.” But you don’t, because you look out the window and you’re in the 22nd floor of a building and your sitting in your cubicle with a deadline racing its way to you. So you sigh and go back to staring at the monitor. You’re also the girl who attempts to make perfectly handcrafted caffeinated beverages as fast as possible for cranky customers in the morning, feeling like a robot as your body moves on a pace so fast your mind slows down and drifts to that day you leave this all behind for adventure, someway, somehow. You’re also the guy who is sitting on a desk in a classroom taking an exam, filling in the bubbles of a scantron, for a very crucial exam that will determine your grade, for a class you hate, for a degree you have completely no interest in, and you wonder. How much more of this can you take?
The truth is, we don’t have that much time. This is the youngest we will ever be. If you keep waiting to travel until you finish college, then you will also wait until you get a stable job, then you will also wait until you get a higher salary, then you will also wait until you retire, and then you will be waiting for the rest of your life. Before you know it you will be 75, wondering where your life has gone and passed… wondering why you didn’t see the world and how much you wasted your life waiting for the freedom to do it.
Why not do it now? Oh yea. The excuses.
Excuse # 1: Traveling is too expensive!
It’s really not as expensive as you think. It seems expensive, because you have to save up a good amount of money before you go. But that will last you for months. Think about how much you spend per month on rent, car payments, phone bills, eating out, clubbing, etc. That money you spend a month for those things is more or less equivalent to a ticket that will take you to the other side of the world. Don’t stay at expensive resorts, or eat at fancy restaurants, or whatever comforts you plan to spend your money on. It’s a waste. And you don’t need it. Get out of your comfort zone and strip down to basic necessities. It’ll humble you, it will change you, and you will discover your true self underneath all that baggage.
The key thing is to prioritize and make travel your number one priority. And if you want it that bad, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
- Stop spending your money on unnecessary things. Instead of buying new clothes. Don’t. Or if you really want to, go thrift shopping. You’ll even find unique finds that you never would have discovered in a generic mall.
- Stop eating out as much as possible. Or stop buying that five-dollar cup of coffee everyday. I used to work at Starbucks and it blew my mind how much money regulars spend on their coffee. It’s addicting, we all know. I’ve had to let all that go too. They say “Oh man I wish I had the money to do that.” As they give me their credit card that I’m about to swipe the third time that day. Cut out the excess things you can surely live without. Or if you desperately need it stay home, brew your own coffee or steep your own tea, and cook your own food. Better yet, cook dishes from the country that you’ll be traveling to next. It will inspire you and keep you going until you physically get there.
- If you’re a smoker. Quit. It’s tough, I know, I come from an entire family of smokers. And lost my grandfather to lung cancer. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do this novel-long spiel to make you quit. But I’ll leave you with this: What do you really want? Cancer sticks? Or an epic life-changing adventure across the world? You choose.
- Stop going out downtown to go clubbing all the time. Do you really need to pay that $20 cover charge at a club? And the $15 worth of gas to get downtown. Or a $10 drink?
- Make a commitment to save a certain amount for your travels per month and put it in a separate bank account.
- Find cheap flights through skyscanner.net. Paying for your ticket will be the most you will blow in your travels. Cheap deals circulate through the internet. My tickets from LA- Bangkok- Manila- LA cost me only $1,300. My roundtrip ticket to Costa Rica cost me about $560.
- Stay in hostels. It’s not the nasty, dangerous, and horrid nightmare that society has made it up to be. You’re paying for a bed in a dorm room and shared bathroom which ranges from $4-$15 per night depending on which country you go to. The expensive hostels are really nice and clean, almost like a hotel. The cheaper ones are basic backpacker-friendly hostels. I’ve actually found the cheapest ones to be the best because it creates a more laid-back atmosphere that enables people to be more open and comfortable with each other. It’s also a fantastic way to meet awesome people from all over the world. I’ve built strong friendships with amazing people I’ve met through hostels. HostelWorld.com makes it easy to find hostels anywhere in the world.
- Eat cheap food. Simple as that. Some of it may not be the healthiest, but you can still find healthy food. Eat street food, try mind-boggling dishes. You could end up loving it. Go buy tropical fruits you’ve never tried before. And please buy as much mangosteens, rambutans, and passion fruit as you can.
Excuse # 2: It’s way too dangerous to travel.
Another illusion that our society has molded our minds into. My friend warned me about Thailand being the sex slave capital in the world, and joked that I will get sold into it. Another told me that if I went to Bali, I would get raped for sure. People will continue to spill their fears and doubts all over you and scare you into not doing it. The truth is, danger is everywhere. I honestly felt more in danger walking through downtown San Francisco during the day than I did walking the streets of Thailand alone at night. But that doesn’t mean you should gallivant around town drunk and alone wearing butt cheek shorts at night. There’s danger everywhere. Just be smart with your decisions. And trust your instincts. Listen to them. Very carefully. If something strong within you is telling you to not going to this place or go with this person, just don’t. But at the same time, be open to the possibilities if it feels right.
Excuse # 3: I don’t have friends who can travel with me. And I don’t want to travel alone.
Not having anyone to travel with is the silliest of all excuses. I don’t blame you though, I used to be terrified of traveling alone. But I bought the ticket anyway. And I’m a female. I’ve also met more solo-female travelers than solo-male travelers in my travels. I found it liberating to be traveling solo. You move on your own time and you can do whatever you want and go anywhere you want without anybody’s consent. It’s quite liberating. You are also not really alone. You meet so many like-minded people in your travels that you can even find an awesome group of people from all over the world to travel, most of the time they become your family, even just for that short time.
Excuse # 4: But I can’t just quit my job. What happens if I don’t get a job when I get back?
Do you love the job that you are in? Or do you hate it? Do you constantly look at the clock waiting for the hand to spin to the number when the soul- sucking pain of being in a monotonous routine is over? If so, you can quit it. You could even find something that you become extremely passionate about and create your own job out of that.
It’s scary I know. I know because after my six-month adventure in Asia, I’m back in California. I’m doing freelance photography work here and there but I’m still unemployed. And it’s tough to find a decent job right away. To not have a steady income, to toss your chances into the wind, not knowing what you will get back or when you will get it back. But despite the nagging worries that linger on the back of my head, is it worth it? Yes. What I’ve experienced and learned in the past six months is without a doubt, worth it all. It’s one of the best decisions I had ever made in life.
Excuse # 5: I’m not sure if I can take that risk.
Why? Why won’t we let ourselves take risks? Why do we do this to ourselves? For security? For comfort? What does that even mean? So we can live a life of security and comfort so we can safely work our way towards death? It’s so sad because most of the human population are victims to this. And most never wake up. Lives are wasted. Immense human potential is hindered. Dreams die with them. Do you really want to live that way?
So, ask yourself, why choose to continue doing something you loathe over what you know will make you happy?
In the end, it all comes down to the desires of the heart. Do what you love. Do what makes you happy. Be optimistic. Even if it means risking everything. Because at the end of your journey, it will be worth all the sacrifices you made. There are mind-expanding experiences, beautiful souls, magical places, and a life-changing adventure that awaits you. All you need to do… is make that first step.
Keep in mind that all these excuses, were the exact same excuses I used before. I stopped using them. Did myself a favor, and bought myself that plane ticket.