Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from traveling:
#1 There is always a price to pay
We prioritize traveling. As soon as we get home, we are back at our jobs and counting our pennies for the next trip. I would much rather have another travel experience than a new car.
Having wanderlust is considered an addiction and a lot of people can’t stop until they’re flat broke. Being gone can also put a damper on other life changing experiences: having children (you can travel, but it is much harder), promotions/leadership positions at your work, investing in your community (choosing between getting a bit closer to your next trip or donating to all those fundraisers), or being afraid to put your kids in sports because you don’t think you can make those games on the weekends because you’d rather go to the mountains…
Minimize the negativity of those costs. Learn to downgrade to a simpler lifestyle so saving will be easier. Pick a partner that will not be resentful missing out on children or a promotion at that time your lives. Volunteer when you can instead of donating money to community events. Time and an extra pair of hands are always just as appreciated.
You backpacked through Asia?
There are two types of reactions you’ll hear: 1) “That is AMAZING! Tell me EVERYTHING!” and 2) “Oh that’s nice. So..did you hear about …”
Traveling is a luxury for a lot of people. You scrimped and saved to see the Pyramids, while others are just trying to pay rent. You can’t expect people to be happy for you. You can’t expect people to want to hear about things they don’t imagine ever seeing.
Your perspective in life is forever changed by travel experiences. They are uniquely yours and you will use those experience lessons for the rest of your life. You ate with strangers in India and walked away with a newfound respect for those who live on the streets? Great! But when conversations arise and you start with, “Oh yes, when I was in India….” people will either think you are bragging about your travels or their ears will shut because they cannot relate to what you are saying.
Know the company you keep and share only if you feel it will be helpful, not hurtful.
When I do find someone that wants to hear about our travels, they are always curious as to how we got around. We consider ourselves travelers, not tourists. I would frequently find Hubby and I secretly making fun of others who share every aspect of their weekend at a local beach town on social media like it was a grand adventure. They’d take hundreds of selfies, only visit popular attractions, and stay in expensive hotels.
We like to eat local food, book cheap hotels, and travel on public transport. We talk to locals, wander the streets, and try new experiences. Our travel is more authentic right?
Not everyone’s ready to venture out on their own. New language, new currency, new rules may be off putting to allow them to enjoy their trip. Their precious vacations hours may not permit them to have the time to roam the world like a nomad. They may have fears of upsetting their sensitive stomachs so they eat what they know.
Not everyone wants the same experiences and that’s OK.
#4 Travel is not an Escape
Some people travel to see new things, some people travel to run away. You can physically remove yourself from negative situations, but only temporarily. Be prepared for what you are coming home too: that crappy job, house, or family. Any problems we have, we are in them. When you travel, you get an opportunity to get outside of them and maybe solve them.
Use your newly made memories to come back and create a life that you would love and would love to keep returning too. Use the opportunity to get out of your problem and look at it from a new perspective.
#5. Appreciate your freedom.
When I tell people how often I travel and that I even have a blog about it, I frequently hear, “oh gosh, you are so lucky!” I have started to really hate that phrase. Even from the kindest of hearts, it comes with a sort of implication that I must not have worked very hard for this lifestyle.
But after traveling and talking to others, you learn that you need to be appreciative.
I was born in a country with many opportunities. I have a job that gives me paid vacation days. I know I have a government that supports me so I can travel safely between many countries. I have a supportive family at home that I can call if I’m ever in trouble. I have a husband that is just as eager to hit the road in a matter of weeks as I am. Not everyone has all those things.
I don’t think people can truly appreciate what they have until they witness different struggles, or go to a place where people don’t have the same freedoms.
#6 Seriously, pack light
Packing for a trips is hard for Hubby and it frustrates me. We end up overpacking for all those “just in case” scenarios that play in your head and you can’t deny their is a possibility of X happening… so you pack and pack and pack…You get to the airport, you land in the new place and then the regret sinks in… You are now stuck hauling around those big bags, looking so obviously like a tourist your a mark before you know it.
Learn to pack. I pretty much can fit everything I need into a backpack and small tote for anything from a weekend trip to a month.
Travel has also taught me how to pack a bag quick. When you find yourself rushing for something (plane, bus, or train) being able to pack fast is helpful. If you can prioritize the items of a suitcase quickly and efficiently, then this will only help you make decisions and decide what’s important later.
#7. Don’t let a fear hold you back
I don’t know about you guys, but for as much a I travel, I still get travel anxiety. Seriously. Vomit, the whole spiel. This tends to dictate my schedule and tries to keep me from trying something new or do something different because I was so afraid I would just ruin the whole trip.
That’s no way to live.
Failure will always happen. Unexpected things happen. Accidents happen. But instead of avoiding new experiences, I’ve tried to:
- Be prepared so I can assure myself I can handle any surprises.
- If I do fail, I can deal with it and learn from it.
You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t try. You don’t want fear to turn into regret, because regret you’ll carry with you much longer.
#8. “Comparison is the thief of joy”
This is something I continuously remind myself with as I travel, share stories, and blog. You can’t compare your travel experiences with those of others. It takes away from the joy of your trip. Instead, focus on what you have done and why you loved it.
Nor should you continually pine and torture yourself over places others have been too and you haven’t been yet (something I am seriously guilty of, have you seen my bucket list?). You’ll get there! Wanderlust is a real thing and can physically hurt. It feels like love sickness but for the whole world!
Traveling is paving your own path. We all are on our own unique journeys and in our own time.
#9. You Have to Work to make Travel Happen
I’m always very clear with people, that I am just like them. I have a normal job with a mortgage and commitments of my own. The difference is that travel is a priority. Travel requires you to be proactive about your life.
If you’ve always dreamed of going to Alaska, don’t wait around for that free trip. If you want more out of life, unless you were “lucky” to be born into an abundance money, nobody is going to just hand you a check for $10,000 and paid leave from work. You have to figure it out yourself.
- Start that new job and be upfront that travel is part of your lifestyle and you’d like allowances to your schedule with proper notice (we always give 6 months advance).
- Have a travel only savings account and once money goes it, it does not come out under any circumstances unless you are buying your tickets.
- Make sacrifices and put that money towards your travels.
- Gave up cable, satellite radio, or the gym memberships
- Skip the manicures and grow out your hair
- Downsized the phone plan, life insurance, car insurance plans if possible.
- Carpool to work
- Eat primarily at home, or go out with coupons and “happy hour”
- Eat less meat – veg options are always the cheapest
- Don’t waste money on personal non-necessities
- Buy bargain clothes for kids since they will outgrow them in a few months
- They don’t need yet another toy – make trips their presents
- Only buy clothes to replace, not expand your closet
- Same rules for make-up, nail polish, hair accessories…
- Buy generic brands they are often just as good as the name brands.
- Put off adopting a pet, they require lots of care and will need boarding when you are gone.
- Buy at the thrift store or yard sales for furniture/ interior decorating
- Use smart travel apps and websites to help you plan efficiently and cheaply
There are many things you can do, be creative and look around for how you can save!
#10. Life is too short
You know that song, “I Lived” by One Republic? It is my favorite song. It makes me want to get up and go somewhere every time! It makes me cry every time. I suffer from a few medical ailments that I know are going to make traveling difficult or not possible when I am older. So, for me, there may very well be a day where all I can do is sit on the couch and watch TV.
This song and every missed opportunity reminds me, it’s too short. You only get so many weekends in life, so many seconds; and none of it is promised. All the amazing places in the world. All the people I could meet and foods to try. It is too short and precious. You have to make the most of it.
Do not put off your dreams indefinitely. Plan, Pack, and Go. Do it while you can.