a prologue of sorts
The travel bug really sunk its teeth into me when I was a fresh-faced college graduate. I left the East Coast for the first time, and I took a month to venture across America with a couple of friends. When I got home, I immediately hit the internet to read travel blog after travel blog to figure out how to crack the code that would allow me to travel more often and further away from home.
The piece of advice that I most frequently found was that if I wanted to travel, I should just go right on ahead and do it. After reading several variations of the line "the hardest part of traveling is deciding to do it," I was beginning to feel a little frustrated.
I don't want to downplay travel anxiety because I agree that traveling can be extremely difficult for a lot of people for a variety of reasons, but I don't believe that it's the number one factor that keeps people from going out and seeing the world. Rather, I think it's money.
Following my college debt came credit card debt, insurance, car payments, and a slew of other bills. At the time (and for a few years afterwards), I also didn't have a job in the field that I spent so much money getting a degree in. How do you travel when you get paid minimum wage and when most of your paychecks go towards your bills?
I continued to read blogs, articles, and books for inspiration, but I often felt more disheartened than I did hopeful. Some people said that they didn't have any debt, so it was easy for them to save. Most people recommended selling their car to make and save money. A surprising amount of others talked about using their inheritance. I remember that I literally only came across one person who said that they had to work their butt off for two years to be able to afford a trip around the world, but they didn't mention having any bills to pay.
With little money in my pocket and monthly payments that I was always scrambling to make, I came to the conclusion that I would never be able to travel. The month I spent living in a car and camping across America would not only be the beginning but also the end of my adventures.
That was roughly four years ago, and since I came to that conclusion, I've been to southeastern Mexico, traveled across all of Ireland, spent an entire month in southern France to take a class after previously visiting Paris, hopped over to Canada nearly a dozen times, revisited the West Coast of the U.S, and packed my car for countless road trips. This past year, I celebrated New Year's during my second trip to Ireland, and I surprised my mother with a trip to France. Next week, I finally get to meet Hawaii, and next year, I already have a trip to Japan booked and a trip to England in the making. And guess what? I'm still in debt, I still pay bills, and I still have a car.
the truth about traveling
So, what's the secret to traveling?
The truth is that it depends on who you are. I know that sounds incredibly underwhelming and maybe even disappointing, but there is no magical way to make travel possible. There are a ton of factors that make it easier or more difficult to accomplish, and the steps that need to be made in order to travel depend entirely on you. My opportunities come from a mixture of privilege, luck, connections, and hard work. Last year, I finally landed a job that paid me more than minimum wage, and I took on a part time job as well. I was able to study in France because I had some financial support from my family. I have friends in other states and countries, and so I don't need to worry about housing for some of the places I visit.
Some people are more fortunate than I am, some less, and others might relate to me completely. Regardless, if you're feeling discouraged, don't be. Even if our situations are different, there are universal tips and tricks to help make traveling a possibility.
anybody can travel
You know yourself and your lifestyle better than any travel blogger, so you need to find out what's reasonable and realistic for you. Figure out where you want to go, do your research on travel costs, round up on how much you think you'd need to save, and then start saving. Set a goal, and then commit to the process, and if you don't reach your goal as quickly as you had hoped, that's okay! Keep putting money away, and don't give up!