“Don’t think about the money, just do it.” I’ve read that in almost all kinds of stories from long-term travelers who document their rendezvous with ego-punching photographs and videos, while indirectly telling you that your life sucks, it’s time to feel sorry for yourself. I mean, who does not want to travel, all the time? Anyone you’d ask, what would they do if they can do anything right now – you’ll get a collective, TRAVEL. But, things don’t work that way IRL. Truth be told, we have bills to pay, families to support, financial goals to reach, and all the boring adult stuff.
I finally came across an old TIME Magazine article titled, “Why ‘Don’t worry about money, just travel,’ is the worst advice of all time” (read it here) and I found my pot of gold – here’s something that lays it all out for you, matter of fact speaking, without sugar coating (side note: you should read it.).
I’ve been working for about 8+ years now, and I was only able to start travelling a couple of years ago. It has always been part of my plan to go do it, but it just did not take off sooner than I thought. Why? I did not hit the genetic lottery. I was born in a family where you have to work hard for something if you really want it. My parents were not rich, but we were okay – they sent us to good schools, all the way through college. That’s a feat for any parent. Long story short, everything I did in the past, is because I would ultimately travel and discover the world. I started working, and the plan to travel has always been at the back of my mind – delayed probably, but never forgotten. When I managed to get a higher pay, year after year, that dream is starting to get closer and closer until it finally came – I tried a short layover in Hong Kong on my way to the Philippines, just to make my childhood dream come true – DISNEYLAND. That 20-hour layover cost me US$ 145 that I saved up for about 3 months. And I spent all of it in less than 24 hours. Then, reality hit me – travelling needs money – however you want to brand your trip (budget, backpacking, holiday, etc), you need money nonetheless.
I’ve said it before and I’d say it again – I’m not rich but that does not mean I can’t travel. I’ve followed travel bloggers from all kinds of social media platforms and they all have similar backgrounds – they can hit pause on their responsibilities and be free to wander across continents. But, where are the ones like me? The ones who can not turn their backs on their responsibilities, but still longs to discover other places? Or those who love what they do and also loves to travel without dropping everything? I’m a little bit of both: I love what I do, and I can’t just drop my responsibilities. Where do you fit that in? That’s what I’ve been looking for all this time. I would love to be able to drop everything and travel for a year, but from where I stand, that is still a plan I’m working on, and it’s not happening any time soon.
So, I made amends and made up my mind about finding a balance with this whole career and travelling thing. I’d put up a travel fund so I can visit at least 2 places each year. My travel fund isn’t a surplus money from my earnings – it’s my shopping and eat out money. It’s the retail therapy that I skipped, or that payday steak that I chose not to indulge in. If you want something so bad, you have to give something up to have it. An entire year’s worth of sacrifice for a 10-day sight seeing and wandering in wherever my frugal travel fund can afford to please me.
I’ve got nothing against people who can afford to drop everything for a life on the road and to just leave it all behind. I just wish it is easy for all of us. But, the truth is, they are only 1% of the population – the lucky ones. For us, the regular ones, we have to find the balance that will work for us, one that will not leave us jobless and irresponsible while at the same time, giving in to our soul’s desire to travel, once in a while.
Travel buys you memories and experiences you can never have by staying where you are. It gives you something that renews your sense of life. Personally, I think a person who travels is smarter and a better story teller – it gives you a renewed perspective and a wider view about life. Travelling teaches you something about yourself that you’ll only discover when you’re out of your comfort zone.
So, travel and get lost. Meet new people. Find new places that’ll take your breath away.
Where to next?