10 Sacrifices Made To Travel The World
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 (it’s called reverse culture shock). 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the 5 years of study I put into becoming a lawyer, knowing that once I return to Australia my qualifications will be out of date.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.
Thanks for this post! I needed this right now.
I’m currently working my butt off and saving for my trip, so I’m glad to know it will all be worth it!
Keep it up! :)
Thanks Jordan – glad we can relate! I guarantee you it’ll all be worth it. You’re exhausted now, but that exhaustion is quickly replaced and forgotten by adrenalin once you step off that first plane!
Best of luck – and happy travels!
Every single one of those sacrifices is worth it to me to be able to travel and experience as much of the world as possible. I was quite sad on my return you Australia to find my relationships with childhood friends just wasn’t the same but then I think about all of the amazing people I met while travelling, people who I have so much in common with, and I realised maybe its for the best.
I’ve come to accept that certain friendships are only meant to be in our lives for a certain period of time. I like to think every relationship we form no matter how fleeting serves a purpose for that point in time. After I started to think that way it started to weigh on me less that I was/had left people behind.
It’s all part of life though – if it wasn’t due to traveling friendships would change because of something else. As you said, maybe it’s for the best – we all need to evolve :)
Love this and totally agree! It is all about sacrifice. There is just no other way to do it. Something has to give to have ANY lifestyle you desire, in this case travel.
For me, the hardest sacrifices have been relationships. It’s just not the same when you are out on the road.
The easier sacrifices are things like alcohol and clothes (I am SUCH an outfit repeater. saves money and space in the suitcase).
Thanks for this reminder.
It’s really not the same when you’re on the road – Skype is fantastic and I love hearing from my nephews on my birthday (they’re 2 and 4), but really, despite video chat I’m still missing them grow up. One of those things.
I need to take my own advice and cut down on the amount of clothes I’m taking on our next trip – my suitcase could do with some extra space :D!
Thanks for stopping by :)
I still have moments of panic where I think about all that money I’ve saved up in the last couple of years being gone when I get back. But the hardest thing for me is leaving behind an amazing relationship. I hope it can survive my gallivanting around but I know there’s a very real possibility that it won’t. I’m just holding onto the belief that it will all be worth it!
(Oh, and as someone who bartended for years – I know EXACTLY the kind of hatred you have for humanity at the end of a closing shift! LOL)
We’re at that stage now too – we’ve saved a lot of money this past year and hit our target for a rainy day fund which we had planned to save over three years. We’re about to go on a 6 month trip and it’ll take a huge hit – it’s a difficult thing to get your head around!!
The one thing I have learnt though is that it is always worth it – and the amazing relationships last the distance :)
My last shift (handed in resignation two weeks ago to do our trip) is tonight – I seriously can’t wait!! :D
Very inspirational! I’m teaching English in Brazil and it’s very difficult to save money while teaching English anywhere in Latin America. I limit my drinking to once a week and very rarely go out to dinner, maybe once a month. However, coffee is my weakness! I go to a cafe about 4-5 times a week. The coffee at my English school is terrible, and the supermarkets only have nescafe, so I feel like I have no choice!
Thanks Hannah! Lol everyone has a weakness – mine is spending too much on travel itself funnily enough!! Need to sort that out and start traveling cheaper and smarter!!
Sounds to me like you have no choice either – I would be right there with you! We do need little indulgences though, and especially when you’re living in a different country it’s nice to have some creature comforts like good coffee!!
I absolutely agree. We all made some sacrifices to travel the world. For me the hardest part was to say goodbye to my family and give up on my relationship. I’ve learned not to attach myself to people because they come and then go and I carry on travelling :).
Thanks Agness – I’ve learned the same – I don’t seem to attach myself to people much anymore. It’s my last shift at work tonight – a job I’ve now been in for a year, and it’s strange for me to be so nonchalant about leaving when everyone is making a big deal about “always stay in touch” etc. I guess I’ve just done it too many times so goodbyes don’t affect me in the same way anymore.
As you said, you carry on traveling :)
This list makes me not feel like a crazy person! I always think of buying “nice” things but my mind immediately compares the cost to something travel-realted that I’d much rather have/do.
And the outfit repeater, that is me! I swear I have the same pictures with the entire same outfit from everywhere I go. Glad I’m not the only one who seems to never change clothes.
Nope, you’re not a crazy person – promise!! I do exactly the same thing – think about the equivalent of a luxury purchase in travel dollars.
I figure you keep traveling and meeting new people, they won’t know you wores the same thing last week in a different city so who cares!! Lol :)
This is a straight forward and a great article Meagan. I am so glad you are young and living a dream.
Proud to know you, even if it is only cyberlily. (not a word) but it works. LOL
You go girl.
Thanks so much Kymee :) Your ongoing support and encouragement means a lot – I’m so happy to have such a phenomenal community surrounding me; even if we do only know each other online!
Lol and I love the word Cyberlily – totally picking it up!
Brilliant article! In prioritising our love for travel, we make a lot of (worthy) sacrifices. I have made a few such sacrifices before, and this serves as a timely reminder to myself to continue on this journey of making sacrifices!
Thankyou Yidian! Safe travels on your journey – wishing you many more amazing adventures to come :)
The one that resonates with me the most is sacrificing relationships. My friends and I swore we’d stay friends when I moved to the other side of the world but, when I returned last year, it wasn’t the same and I didn’t seem to fit in with their lives any more. Nor my with theirs. I do have some friends from home that I still see, but others I literally don’t talk to any more – our lives are polar opposites.
I’ve since moved to London, found myself new friends, connected with friends I made whilst travelling who now live here and realised something really important; that trying to force a friendship with someone who doesn’t return your texts and calls isn’t worth your time and emotions. People change and move on, and that’s OK :)
And I’ve come to learn that that’s ok – moving on with seperate lives. You’ll always cherish the memories of those friendships, but in the end you were set on different paths.
It’s taken me a while but I’ve also learned that it’s not worth trying to force friendships that once were. I think it ruins them more – better to accept that you shared something great for a certain period in your life but now you’ve both found different interests and a new path :)
I totally relate with these Megan! We all made some sacrifices to be able to travel, but I do believe they are very worthy considering what we get from traveling. I love the one about clothing, I don’t remember when was last time I bought some new clothes myself :)
Totally agree that they are all worthy sacrifices – if I had to go back I would do it all over again in a heartbeat :)
Yes, it’s always sad when I realize my whole wardrobe fits nicely into a little backpack :D!
I wrote a similar post about things I was missing when travelled, regrets I had. But here I am again travelling the world. Sometimes people take it personally that you travel because life with them is not good enough, but it’s never that, it’s something inside you and just because you aren’t satisfied by those ten sacrifices doesn’t mean they don’t mean the world to you. I wish we could have both worlds…. Someone has to have both :)
Take everyone with you?! Sigh I know – it’s always hard; I think my family has stopped taking it personally when I miss birthdays and big celebrations – but there’s still always that pang of guilt there.
Lol I buy their love back with shiny presents from exotic locations :D
I always enjoy when I see the picture of you napping on the floor of your work. I agree that as long as you can sacrifice the material things, then you can have more money for travel. I am asked how I travel all the time. My main answer is because I want it to happen. I don’t just talk about traveling, I travel! I don’t buy clothing or new purses or shoes often either. However, I have been replacing more lately since most are from high school and undergrad. . . Oh well. What is life without hard work and travel?
Lol I’ve used it once or twice now – time to get new content :D
I love that answer – it really does come down to wanting to make it happen. I gave a speech about adventure travel which covered how to save money and step one was telling yourself you’re going to save. Because it’s one thing to talk about it, but another thing to tell yourself and decide you’re actually going to do it.
Congrats on making it happen and living your dream! Safe and happy travels :)
Excellent Megan! I’ve hopped the globe over the past 3 years with Triberr mate and my fiancee Kelli, and we’ve made similar sacrifices. Grow by letting go, I say. Awesome post.
Thanks Ryan! I love that: “grow by letting go” – that’s exactly how I try to live each day.
Congrats on living out your dream – here’s to many more adventures!
Great post. I’ve done little travelling yet have friends all around the world. I love being at home. I’m not sure any of us can have both of anything, something will always be missed. I will re-evaluate some of the things I spend my money on though after reading this since there’s a few places I fancy visiting.
Thanks Lynne. Life seems to be all about choices – sadly; it sure would be nice to have everything!!
I’ll always be chasing after balance, especially when it comes to maintaining relationships. Thankfully with the internet now it’s so much easier to stay in contact, but you still miss that physical presence.
Best of luck with your saving! Safe and happy travels!
Great article Megs, it is quite annoying to encounter people who have the same job as us (or even a better one!) complaining about how they cannot afford to travel :o
I know it all too well! Seriously – everyday I hear about it! Circumstances are always different – but generally those circumstances include spending a LOT of money at the bars and clubs after work ;)
All that put together seems like one heck of sacrifice indeed!
Wouldn’t trade it for the world though :)
One of the biggest sacrifices for me is not having a home. We owned a cozy little apartment once and were surprised by how much homeownership suited us. Spent our days off scouring Home Depot and painting the walls. :D
Thanks Deia – we’ve just sold our home and it will be interesting to see how we go without one. It’s the first time we would be traveling without a homebase to return to so kind of excited and scary at the same time!
You can’t underestimate how fun it is painting the walls – lol many amazing memories!!
I’m not traveling the world right now, but I do love this post and most of the sacrifices I think I would be willing to make. I might have to draw the line at my sanity – I’ve done 14 days of work (but with breaks to home and sleep). 48 hours of straight work sounds too exhausting to me, but kudos for doing what you need to do to help achieve your travel goals.
That was one I wasn’t too willing to give up! I’ve been so close to quitting so many times over the last year because I “don’t need the money THAT badly” lol but I always seem to persevere!!
48 hours of straight work was exhausting and I will never EVER do it again because it was a little too taxing both mentally and physically (staying awake for that long was an interesting psychological experiment!!)
All the best :)
Love this post! People rarely talk about all the sacrifices we have to make as travelers, and sometimes it gets hard traveling all the time– especially missing so many weddings, births and other milestones for the people back home who are important to you.
Definitely – I was just on Skype now with my little nephew and he played his first football game today. It’s great to have the technology to enable video chat but it’s not the same as actually being there at the game. Sadly that’s life – they need to invent teleportation!!
Beautiful post!! Thanks for share with us.
I’m thinking the same things you wrote – but you’re better than me… i have to work on some things ;) – but travel is the thing that keep us richer the most.
Thanks Elisa! Completely agree with you – travel makes us richer in so many ways. It’s completely worth the trade off in not having material possessions.
Have a wonderful weekend – thanks for stopping by!
I can sympathize with each point you’ve made her Meg. I left a life of normality to travel the world 3 years ago and I’ve given up almost all of the things you’ve mentioned. Other than my sanity and my relationships with friends and family the rest are worth while sacrifices. I no longer waste money on clothes I don’t need, instead I make do and mend. I save a fortune by not going out every weekend to dance and drink and I’ve given up caffeine and sugar so my diet is so much better now! being thrifty is good for your health!
Yep, traveling has given me the ability to sew!! Mending clothes is a big part of saving money on the road. You’re right too, there are definite health benefits which come with a lot of the above – I think I’ll turn that into a slogan of some sort “Traveling is good for your health” :D!
Hospitality will certainly do that to you! lol But after traveling for some time, I’m sure every travel blogger can agree that these sacrifices are well worth getting the opportunity to do what we love to do. :-)
Lol yes it will! Though I’m now on day 2 of our trip around the world, and honestly it’s like those days of hell at the cocktail bar just vanished away with my worries! Always worth it in the end!
A wonderfully written and entertaining post.
I often sit and think how richer or further in life I would be if it wasn’t for all the money I’ve spent on travel, but as you more or less say it all about personal choice and priorities.
You can’t take it with you, may as well enjoy in now seeing the world and experiencing more to life that the daily grind!!
Thanks Kevin! We’ve come to realize that life is measured in memories, and as you said, if you can escape the daily grind and trade it for experiencing the world, may as well!!
What a great post! I relate to most of the points you mention here.
It is quite difficult to explain that feeling you have when you come back home after a long time travel and you just feel like you are not the same person anymore, that maybe you don’t get motivated by the same things as you did before. Sometimes I even have felt like a stranger when going out with my friends.
Also, it is totally true the focus on new priorities instead of being tempted by buying new staff or clothes. When my couple and I started this “travel” last year we sold almost everything we had, even our car. As for the clothes, we left home with just 3 pairs of clothes and decided to just buy a new pair on our new destination when we needed, I mean, now we are on the Canaries, and as here we don’t need any coats or anything for cold weather I just came here without it, and if we ever need them we’ll buy it. And the same goes when buying stuff for hobbies, like snorkel kits or the surf boards, we went to a local store where they had some material for rent and offered them to buy some kits and boards they had that were not using or were old, to use them here in the islands, and when we leave we’ll sell them and it will have been like having rented some material for a very good price. :)
Thanks Katia, really glad you are able to relate! It’s so true – you return home thinking that everything will be the same, but often have trouble fitting back in because travel changes you. While we might like to think everyone else has changed, it’s really us! Reverse culture shock is real!
Congrats on taking that huge step and selling everything! I imagine it’s 200% worth it to be on the Canaries right now!
Clever tip on buying old kits and boards – very thrifty and resourceful!!
Ah, a girl after my own heart! So much of this is echos of my own life – tough at times, but wouldn’t have it any other way!
Glad to hear we can relate! You put it perfectly – wouldn’t have it any other way! Happy Travels!
I love this post. It’s very true and I especially appreciate the relationship aspect of it. Thanks for a great post!
Thanks Sanna! I’m so glad you enjoy the post; traveling the world is a phenomenal way to live and a great goal to aspire towards, though I think we do need to be honest and acknowledge that you do have to make sacrifice to make it happen. Like everything in life I guess!
Thanks for stopping by!
I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining – I’m a traveler myself and love,enjoy exploring new places and cultures where I can have an unforgettable experience to share with family – I’ll def check your website more often…
Thanks Ronald – that means a lot! We welcome you back anytime :)
Fantastic post Megan! On a total side note, what on earth do you wash your clothes with to keep the colour so vibrant after three years of multiple wears?! lol that tank top looks brand new! ;) Very educative and informative post. Bookmarking this for when I need insight on our budgeting.
Thanks Laura! So glad you enjoyed the post! Lol I know right – I actually did a recent cull of my closet so that we could cut down on our possessions for more travel, though that shirt still stands! It’s had quite the run!
Feel free to reach out if you’re ever in need of further tips or inspiration :)
You are such a gem, and SO interesting. I love the thought you wanted to scream, “we have the same job!”, it made me laugh out loud. Perception and priorities are a funny thang.
Your tenacity is admirable and contagious. Keep writing and sticking to your dreams. ;)
Thanks Shan! It’s so true though lol I’m like we make the same amount of money, the only difference is I don’t spend my nights wages at the club straight after work :P
It’s absolutely 100% about priorities :) So glad you enjoyed the post! Wishing you all the best for achieving your dreams also!
It takes a certain kind of person to become a real globetrotter. Not many people can do what you do. Keep inspiring others and don’t abandon that wanderlust spirit. You’ve already experienced a lifetime of adventure in a few short years.
Absolutely agree – once again I think it does come down to priorities, and the simple fact is that the majority of people just don’t make travel their priority, or don’t WANT to make travel their priority. It’s very easy to do, you just have to want it more than a new flatscreen TV, for instance.
So glad you enjoyed the post John, thankyou for your support and kind words of encouragement :) Happy travels!
Putting together an action plan now for long term, well increased, travel in the near future and all of these tips are going to come in handy. For me, the hardest is going to be coffee but at the end of the day that money will go a lot further somewhere else and will probably taste better than my local gas station. Great post!
I’m so glad to hear! Treat yourself to a cup of coffee in the first destination you land – I guarantee nothing will taste more sweet :D! Wishing you all the best – happy & safe travels!
Thanks I am saving up for travel now..
You’re welcome Shellen! Happy saving & happy travels :)
Not having a friendship circle
Sometimes when I watch an episode of Friends, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory or New Girl, I can’t help but think: I wish that was me and my friends.
Don’t feel sorry for me, because I do have friends. But friendships work differently when you’re a full time traveler. You don’t talk quite as often and see each other quite as much, but that’s a sacrifice that I have chosen to make.
The positive thing is that I have friends all over the world – not many people can say that.
Totally agree with you Lisa – it’s a different type of relationship and different type of friend when you travel full time. You do sacrifice that tight knit group of friends we might see in pop culture, but as you’ve said, you become part of networks and connections all over the world. I think that’s a pretty fair trade :)