Travel and Money Myth: What is really stopping you from packing a bag today?
Categories: Tips & Tricks, Life Stories
One fellow traveller messaged me a year after we first met to ask, “How on earth are you STILL travelling?” My reply was that I try not to spend that much money. She conceded, that’s her problem, she does. The truth is she was looking for a different experience to me and wanted to do trips and costly activities at a destination. She would rather get a taxi from the airport than work out the public transport system, or hitch hike. She wasn’t so keen to try street food and favoured restaurants. It all adds up.
For me it has been about working out my own priorities. The aim of the game isn’t save as much money as possible, or I may as well be at home. It’s meant to be fun or there’s not much point ultimately, but only spend money when you think it is worth it. I wanted a surf board, and so was prepared to sacrifice other things and buy one. A life on the road eliminates so much unnecessary spending that we get into a habit of. I no longer pointlessly buy clothes, household items, furniture, beauty products…the list goes on. I also got a lot better at realising how much entertainment is free (or very inexpensive), what pleasure there is in the nature around you, talking with new company, journaling, painting, reading. I also no longer have bills and contracts that eat away at your finances; Satellite TV, phone contract, a car lease. In short, these days I largely just buy things I need, and it has surprised me how very little in reality you do need.
The hardest thing I have found is not actually making money but instead the anxiety I occasionally decide to subject myself to over my finances. Will I be able to make some money when I need to? What if I can’t get any work? What then??? What if the sky falls in and aliens land and blah blah blah (you get the idea). Like with absolutely everything in life fear is the biggest obstacle, and the reality is never as bad as the panic you can create in your mind. Away from a steady salary there are in reality plenty of options to make money.
I asked some of my more attractive male friends if they’d consider prostitution so I could become their pimp, and although one initially seemed receptive to the idea in the end I don’t believe his heart was in it, so I’ve since been forced to explore other options. Personally, I like to write, and have an established background in journalism, so I do copy-writing and sell articles. I simply found the work through internet searches, and applied online. Last year in India I trained to become a yoga teacher, although I spent money to do so, it is now also a skill I can use to make money with. I actually enjoy doing a variety of things, especially when I know it is not forever. Do I want to get up at 7am every day for the rest of my life and clean a guest house? No, if I’m honest probably not, but for a month when you are meeting new people and earning some money, it’s pretty fun. Most people eventually tire of their work, no matter how exciting their job is, so the chance to make money from a mix of things can be rewarding.
Take the opportunity to think of what skills and talents you have, and I don’t just mean qualifications or your previous work history. Chances are you are actually capable of doing many more things than you ever gave yourself credit for. These are maybe things that once upon a time you would have never dreamt of making a career from, but could come in very handy. In Bali I met a guy who enjoyed surf and photography, and so he decided to combine the two and sell his pictures. I don’t know what your skills and passions are, but I know you have them.
I am not suggesting that you are not already very nice, I suppose what I actually mean is be open. Before I started travelling I perhaps could have been considered occasionally socially awkward. It’s not that I was rude or weird (I don’t think anyway!) it’s just the thought of small talk and being around new people often made me squirm a little. In fact I once went on holiday alone, and turned down the offer of having a group dinner in favour of finishing off some work. It was the first day of my holiday and rather than mingle with strangers I DID WORK.
When you are open and share with people; share your story, share your time, share your attention, you will start to notice how many go out of their way to share with you, and help in any way they can. From meeting people and spending sometimes just a few hours with them, I have been offered (and accepted) the invitation of a place to stay in countries all over the world. So much of my time has been spent at the kind invitation of others. These chance meetings and connections you make change and shape your entire experience. After meeting a girl at a party in Italy she invited me to visit her in Turin, a couple of months later I was at a lose end and decided to take her up on that offer. As soon as I arrived I fell completely in love with the city and stayed over a month, when I had just intended to go for the weekend. On another occasion, someone who I had briefly met saw through Facebook that I was travelling through Switzerland, close to his parents home, and suggested that I stay a night at his mum and dads house. At first I felt a little odd knocking on the door to the house of two complete strangers (whose son I barely even knew) but I quickly got over it, and ended up enjoying a wonderful evening of dinner and conversation with them. I realised that this is the human connection we so often avoid in our regular lives , and it is all a part of what makes travel magical.
The money myth…
I know that I will never be able to convince everybody that the next statement is true. The difficulty of travel is not about finding the money. It is not really about whether you have cash to get around, whether you will find somewhere to stay, whether you will be able to feed yourself. The biggest hurdle to you travelling RIGHT NOW is about whether you can adjust your mindset. Can you break free from a way of life that was taught to you from birth, and that you have most likely followed for as long as you can remember? Can you ignore (or learn to live with) the fearful voice inside that says without a steady job you will end up living in the gutter? Can you look at your current spending habits, the home comforts you have become used to, and realise they are just empty symbols of having a satisfied life? Can you leave the security of only spending time with “your sort of people” and be prepared to connect with your fellow man, no matter how alien they or their lifestyle seems to you? These have been the source of all of my travel demons and my travel delights, because the truth is the real hurdles to travel are in your mind, and not your wallet.