No matter what your dream, making it happen will always take sacrifice. Saving money takes sacrifice. Traveling the world takes sacrifice. Everyone is blogging about the benefits of travel, and while there many, there are also many sacrifices which come with the choice to pursue this lifestyle.
Some of these are fairly insignificant, and easy to de-prioritize. Others are a little more difficult to endure, and will often be the primary obstacle preventing others from traveling. My best advice is to sit down and weigh up whether your goals are worth the price, and what you’re willing to pay to get there.
Whilst initially difficult to comprehend, the below sacrifices have all been well worth it to be now living my dream.
The simple fact is, to continually travel the world you sacrifice the majority of your pre existing relationships. I’m lucky enough to have an incredibly close family, and have friends who I can go years without speaking to and still maintain a close connection – but the friendship is never the same. You change in each others absence. You miss milestones and momentous occasions. You move down separate paths and you move on.
One of the biggest shocks of returning home after a long stint of traveling is realizing you no longer fit in with the friendship group you left behind. And honestly, it’s probably you who has changed. Your attitude is most likely different, you’ve developed different interests and prioritize different things. It’s not wrong, it’s just life.
Traveling consistently means you maintain very few long term relationships. But it does give you the opportunity to create fantastic new friendships along the way.
At the beginning of 2012 I was in 20k worth of travel related debt. Yes, you can still travel while in debt! Oh how rich I would be if I had never traveled the world.
We jump from one place to the next with very little money in the bank, knowing that we’re rich from life experiences instead.
It’s often difficult thinking about the 5 years of study I put into becoming a lawyer, knowing that once I return to Australia my qualifications will be out of date. I have friends who are currently working their way towards a corner office while I’m cocktail waitressing to pay for my next flight.
But once again, it comes down to priorities. I once heard a quote which went:
Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, why not create a life you don’t need to escape from?
So that’s exactly what I’m doing. I may never have the safety and stability of a career, or the financial security which comes with it; nor will I achieve the social standing which comes with holding down a desirable career. But I happily trade all of that to experience the world in living colour instead of watching it from a 50 inch television screen, purchased with money from a stressful 9-5 job.
To afford traveling the world you need to cut out luxury purchases. New jewellery, accessories, furniture, that new Gucci handbag, that birthday limousine ride – do you really need it? Or could you put the money to better use?
We now have very few physical possessions, and surprisingly life became simpler and less cluttered with every item we sold or got rid of. Life became happier as we began to worry less about “stuff”.
Are you going to look back in 10 years time and remember the painting you couldn’t live without, or the time you ice-skated on the Eiffel Tower in Paris?
I’m Megan and I’m an outfit repeater. I see no need to purchase new clothes when I’m happy with the clothing I have, and not shopping for a new outfit each week has saved me an absolute fortune for travel. Honestly, I haven’t bought new clothes in years – and will only replace my wardrobe when something is beyond repair. Although I gladly accept gifts!
That’s not to say that I don’t love looking my best, or wouldn’t absolutely adore more than 4 pairs of shoes, I simply want to travel more. Every time I’m tempted I think do I really NEED it and weigh up what the equivalent would be if I were to spend that money on travel. $200 on the hottest new party dress or quad biking in Iceland?
I’m never going to have the newest trends or stop traffic for being out of this world gorgeous, but I’ll have life experiences and that’s what I prioritize more.
Sound ridiculous – you pursue a life of travel in pursuit of true freedom, but you have to sacrifice it to get there? Sometimes you need to be happy with less in order to achieve more.
For instance, Mike and I share the one car. And, between both of our work schedules, honestly it can be a bit of a pain in the ass. On my days off after getting home from a 2am closing shift I wake up at 9am to drive him to work by 10. Likewise, he cuts his days off short to come and collect me from work. We’ve left each other locked out of the house for hours on end, stranded outside work when traffic was horrible, and had to pass on social opportunities if the other person had the car.
But between car payments, gas, insurance and registration, we estimate this has saved at least $10,000 this past year. And we’re about to spend that on the trip of a lifetime.
You would be shocked at how much money sacrificing alcohol will save you. Every night at work, guaranteed, a colleague turns around and mentions how they wish they were as financially stable as me. They wish they had the money to go and explore the world.
I want to turn around and scream “WE HAVE THE SAME JOB AND MAKE THE SAME MONEY” – only difference being, the vast majority will head out straight after work to drink the night’s cash away.
No judgement – hell, my whole first year abroad in Europe saw me drink away more money than some people would know what to do with, but I’ve since learned that I don’t need alcohol to have a good time. And I do cherish now waking up to my memories from the night before!
Last year, the average American household spent the most amount of money on food away from home. This includes fast food, take-out, delivery, vending machines, food carts and eating out in full-service restaurants.
I have probably only eaten out twice in the last year – a huge advocate for eating at home. We spend roughly $120 per week on groceries, and don’t go without want. Steaks, vegetables, fruits, french fries, hot dogs, ice-cream, M&M’s, blueberry muffins, soda – they all make it into our cart for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snacks.
$120 divided by 2 is $60 per week. $60 divided by 7 days of the week is $8 per day. We each eat for roughly $8 per day. Granted, you miss out on a number of social opportunities, but once again it all comes down to priorities.
We’ll splurge and eat out (cheaply) a lot of the time while we’re traveling, but would rather save our extra food funds for when we’re actually on the road – afterall, you haven’t experienced another culture until you’ve tasted it!
Ok, so I was never a smoker. But if you’re serious about saving to fund a lifetime of travel experiences, take my advice and quit. Not for your health (but for that too!), but for your ability to finance travel. In 2013 the cost of smoking for someone who smokes a pack a day was estimated at over $5,000 per year.
So, do you want your cigarettes, or a trip for two to Italy? If you feel that you can’t do it abruptly, you can try portable vaping instead as baby steps to quitting the habit (go to davincivaporizer.com to learn more about these vaporizers). I’ve heard it’s a very good way to start on the path of quitting smoking.
You must think I’m a witch. Or Amish. I’ve taken away your alcohol, your cigarettes, your new clothes, and now I’m waging war on your morning cup of coffee. But if you’re looking for areas to cut your spending, coffee is a good place to start.
Estimates place the cost of coffee for the average (American) individual at $1,100 per year. We just purchased flights to Easter Island for that amount. I’m not saying don’t drink it – perhaps just re-assess if you really need it!
For anyone who has read the story of how I afforded to travel throughout college, you’ll know how hard I worked to make it happen. I worked up to 5 jobs while simultaneously studying full time, one week working 101 hours which saw me work 48 hours straight at one point. I worked to the point of stupidity.
I push the line that you can achieve anything with the right amount of motivation and determination; and I truly believe you can. But it comes at a price, and that price has often been my sanity.
I worked relentlessly in order to finance my travels, and pushed myself beyond what many people told me was sane. I made a tonne of money doing so, but I would melt down in private in the dead of the night. Countless nights. I would get home so exhausted that I would bawl myself to sleep. But I kept doing it because in my mind it was worth it. In my mind, standing on top of Mt Kilimanjaro watching the sun rise over the whole of Africa was worth a few months of stressful living.
Likewise, this past year I have worked as a cocktail waitress, some nights bringing home up to $400 per night for a 12 hour shift. Phenomenal money, but each night we would get our asses kicked, once again to the point of meltdown, and each shift would suck a little bit more of my soul, leaving me with a general hatred for the human race. Hospitality will do that to you.