How To: Pay For Travel

(Travel isn’t a matter of time or money, it’s a matter of will.)

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Travel isn’t a matter of money, it’s a matter of will.

When non-travelers find out about all the places I’ve been to they say the same things, “how did you pay for all of that,” “I’d love to travel when I have money,” or “It’s just not the right time.” You don’t have to be rich to travel, you just have to want to it enough to make it happen. Kids graduating college backpack Europe as a rite of passage and that is the “poorest” they will ever be. But now you have a job and steady income and you still don’t travel. You owe it to yourself to get out there and experience the world. And if you haven’t yet, here’s how:

“How did you pay for all of that”
According to the bell curve most of us are middle class. If you’re reading this on a smart phone, laptop, or any device that starts with the letter “i”, you can afford to travel. People always say, “I hope to do it one day when I get enough money.” When in your life have you ever had extra money lying around? When have you ever found an extra thousand dollars hanging out in your bank account? When in your life have you ever not had problems with money? You never have. That’s because we spend to the level of what we make. People that make $50,000 a year say the same thing as people that make $100,000 a year, “if only I had a little bit extra money”. Once you make more money you then rent a little bit bigger apartment, buy an extra pair of shoes once in a while, and go out to eat a little bit more. Americans are shitty savers and we always spend to the level of money that we make. Think about the majority of couples that have a baby. Do you think they planned and saved money before trying to get pregnant? Or did they just readjust their lifestyle to make it work. So if you’re sitting around waiting to win the lottery then it’s probably never going to happen. The fact is you just don’t want it enough. You have to save and follow a budget in order to get it done.

“I’d love to travel when I have money”
So keeping that in mind, you will never have money to pay for travel. So it’s your lack of imagination and will that’s preventing you from experiencing the world. You will never have the money to do it, and the older you get the more complex your expenses will become. The best time to travel is when you’re “unburdened” by a relationship or kids. But you’re going to have to save. You’re going to have to make a budget, stick to it, and start putting an extra percentage of money away from each paycheck. Maybe you dine out less or buy one less coffee a week, maybe you sell some of your old stuff on Craig’s List, maybe you elope instead of having a wedding, or maybe you stop going to bars every night to spend $50 on liquid. Set a budget and stick to it. Save and “create” more income.

“Now is just not a good time.”
If travel is something you truly want to do, then you shouldn’t wait until this mythical “perfect moment.” In life, there are no perfect moments. You have to make these moments happen. In the United States we only get two weeks of vacation a year but because we are so exhausted from overtime and being sedentary/obese we opt for the mundane “staycation”. The best time to travel is actually when you’re unemployed. You have zero commitments and the gift of time. Sure you don’t have steady income but this freedom is a blessing in disguise. And if you have a job, it’s a lot easier than you think to take a leave of absence from work. What’s it going to hurt to ask? As you’re climbing the corporate ladder then take vacations in between positions. If a new company wants you, then the power is in your hands. Don’t ask, take time off for yourself. Even if you have kids you can make it happen, there are entire books out there on this very topic. Yes it’s going to be logistically harder and more expensive but you can make it work. When you see an Internet deal on a flight to a country you want to visit then book it. There’s no way you can back out now once you’ve made this initial investment. Now you have to plan your schedule around this vacation instead of trying to fit the vacation in your schedule. Money will come and go, but time will pass whether you’re an active participant in your own life or not.

When you’re lying on your deathbed you won’t be regretting that you didn’t’ buy those Prada boots or a new plasma TV. But you will regret not going to see the pyramids of Egypt or those giant stone head things on Easter Island. You’re life and happiness is ultimately not going to come down to something that’s tangible, it’s going to be based on your relationships and your experiences. So if travel is one of the greatest experiences in the world, you’re only missing out on it because of your lack of will. If it’s something you’re going to regret not doing, then do it. If there’s anything in life you want, whatever it is, make it happen.

[Photo: A view from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland.]

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2 responses to “How To: Pay For Travel

  1. Pingback: Pack Your Own Parachute | Never Start Stopping·

  2. Pingback: Jake Kahana » Pack Your Own Parachute·

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