Two and a half years. Twenty six countries. Countless cities, experiences, sights, foods, friends and memories. And I just bought enough travel insurance to cover my adventures until the end of 2015.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they wish they could do what I’m doing, well let’s just say I could write a “how I afford to travel” post with a difference.
At midnight on New Year’s Eve most of us raised a glass and toasted the year ahead. We probably made a resolution or two. Several friends have told me travel is a big priority for them in 2014. I’m sure they’re not alone.
So many people want to travel more.
I’ve never heard anyone say they wish they were travelling less.
But resolutions don’t magically come true because you made them at New Year. Just like reaching your goal of losing weight means less chocolate and more time in the gym, you won’t go to sleep in your bed one night and magically wake up in Belize just because you wished really really hard for it to happen.
Travel has been my priority for a few years now. Any other goals are usually steps on the way to seeing more of the world. But once upon a time I was back in Tasmania, with a job and a house, and reading the travel pages in weekend magazines hoping one day I could see those places for myself. It didn’t happen overnight, but I got myself from there to where I am now – which lately has been wherever I want to be.
So for all of you out there planning to collect more passport stamps this year, here’s some advice to get you on your way.
Know what you want
“I want to travel more” is a good start, but the more specific you can be, the easier it is to work towards your goal. Do you want to see more of your own country? Do you have one place that you’ve been hankering to get to but just never made it? Do you want to live overseas? Perhaps see the Northern Lights? Or maybe you want to book a one-way ticket and just get the hell outta there.
Think about the memories you want to create and write them down.
Think about what’s holding you back
This advice is primarily for those considering long-term travel. I meet a lot of people who would love to travel for several months, or a year, or perhaps move to another country, but they just can’t seem to go from wanting to do it to actually doing it. Sometimes it’s because they feel they can’t leave their current life behind. But here’s the thing – you’re not leaving it behind. You’re just moving it.
Sometimes it’s the little things that are hard to be away from. Sure I’ve missed weddings, birthdays, babies and so on, but every now and then I long to go back to the coffee shop in Burnie I visited every morning where they knew my order. Or wish I could be walking my dog on the beach after work or just hanging out with my friends doing nothing at all. But then I think about all the things I’ve gained since I left Australia – friends, experience and most importantly, the feeling the comes with knowing I followed my dreams.
Yes there are things you will have to give up to travel, but consider the things you are automatically giving up by never experiencing them.
Identify your limits
There are times in your life when certain travel adventures are more possible than others. Personally, my budget is limited at the moment so touring Africa and exploring Antarctica aren’t on my short-term goals list. As a property owner I can’t travel for too long without settling for a while to work again. Those are my limits. For now.
Knowing your limits will help you prioritise your travels. If you don’t have much money, maybe you’ll need to explore cheap destinations such as Eastern Europe or Asia. If you can only take leave at a certain time of year, have a look at the climates of the destinations you have in mind and pick which will be the most suitable. If you hate cold weather you won’t enjoy visiting Europe in the winter. Want to travel a lot but don’t want to spend all your savings? Consider a working holiday visa.
We use the internet to help us find cheap flights, book accommodation and research destinations. But how about for inspiration? Many Australians take a Gap Year and usually end up backpacking (read: drinking) their way around Europe so that’s what a lot of others think they should be doing. But there are a lot of people out there doing amazing things that don’t quite fit the mould. Luckily some of those people write about it. There are couples that take their children on the road, women who travel alone in their 50s, twenty-somethings that travel A LOT while studying and working full time, and people who travel on a budget of $50 a day.
I read many travel blogs that inspire me to push my boundaries and open my eyes to ways of seeing the world I hadn’t considered before. I’ll share my favourites at the end.
Start making plans
So a month in Vietnam in September looks like a go? Great, book your leave. Now. You could spend the next six months thinking about it, but that increases the likelihood of you not going. When I made the decision to go quit my job and move overseas I told my boss two weeks later. That was seven months before I planned to go. From that moment I was committed to my decision. I may have missed out on some opportunities in the office, but in the long run what was a missed promotion? The person who got it over me is probably getting up for work in a few hours. I’m on a ferry to Estonia.
It’s never too early to get serious about your travel plans.
Make travel a financial priority
If you were training for a marathon it would become part of your life: your training, your rest, your diet. Making travel a reality requires the same dedication. Soooo many people tell me they can’t afford to travel. But I reckon they have more money than they think. They are just spending it in other places. While there are some expenditures we can’t escape, we choose where most of our money goes. People who travel extensively probably don’t have more money than you. I’m pretty confident I don’t have more money than you. I just choose to spend what I do have on travel.
So that’s a little bit of my advice on how you can travel more, but I’m not going to leave it there. Below are some links to blogs that might give you that little extra push you need. Some are full of practical tips, others are inspiring articles that can help you with some tough decisions. I featured each site just once, but most have a lot of useful information so if you like what you read, look around.
Making the decision to go
Should I stay or should I go? – The Grown Up Gap Year
Story of escaping the cubicle corporate world – Art of Adventuring
The Post-University Blues: On finding my way after university – That Backpacker
My brother told me: “Get a real job” – Nomadic Chick
Affording to travel
How I saved $13,000 for travel in just seven months – Adventurous Kate
Saving money to travel – Travel Made Simple
How I can afford to travel long-term – The Melly Boo Project
42 ways you can make money and travel the world – Wandering Earl
The dark and light of solo travel – Twenty-Something Travel
7 reasons why travel solo is awesome – Savoir Faire Abroad
Prepping for long-term travel: Getting over the fear – Be My Travel Muse
Is long-term solo travel…lonely? – Fluent in 3 Months
Travelling with commitments
You can live a “normal” life and travel, too – A Dangerous Business
The traveler’s guide to short breaks – Jdomb Travels
How to travel with world with a 9-5 job – The Travel Hack
How to travel long-term and pay off debt – Ordinary Traveler
We’ve been there
Five things no one tells you about moving abroad – Young Adventuress
The challenges of starting over – Sateless Suitcase
The year I walked away from love – Bacon is Magic
Making friends: finding people just like me – c’est christine
Facing my fears: Afraid to travel – Four Jandals
Inspiring blogs that will make you want to leave tomorrow
Time Travel Turtle – This is the best-written blog I’ve come across and has been my favourite since I started reading it in May last year. But for those of you who don’t care about how great the writing is, Michael also goes to some great places and comes back with amazing stories. Plus he recently posted lots of pictures of sloths. Enough said.
Hecktic Travels – So you know those people who sell everything and travel the world for years and years? Well Dalene and Pete are two of them. I found their site while researching housesitting (they do it a lot) and kept reading because I really enjoy their articles and photos. I want to be them one day.
Landlopers – How Matt manages to travel so often and find time to post a new article each day I’ll never know. He writes about destinations with an insightful perspective, is a great photographer and Landlopers is packed with advice and inspiration. Each Saturday he showcases travel articles he’s enjoyed in his “Picks of the Weeks”. When I can I set time aside, get a coffee and see what gems he found. It’s my dream to be featured!
Y Travel Blog – Caz and Craig are on a year-long roadtrip around Australia with their two kids. But before the kidlets they backpacked and worked overseas so there’s a lot of relateable stuff on their site.
Off the Path – It was Sebastian’s TEDX Talk “The Importance of Following Your Dreams” that drew me to his site and I’ve been a fan even since. His approach to life and travel is inspiring and Off The Path is a great starting point for planning a trip.
Pause the Moment – I got hooked on this site when Ryan was riding from Seattle to the Mexican border on his Pacific Coast Bike Tour. I was checking his blog daily waiting for the next update! He and Liz get up to some crazy stuff – most of which I’ll never do but I like reading about it. If you want adventure on your travels, this is the site to look at.
Girl Tweets World – Jayne is a brilliant writer, runs a book chat on Twitter and seems to love tea and cafes as much as I do. What’s not to adore about this woman? I really enjoy Jayne’s perspective on the places she travels.
Happy travels everyone. Send me a postcard!