In my last article, I touched on how many people seem to think travel is a difficult thing to do, or something you can only do if you have a lot of money. So, I decided I am gonna address this in an entirely separate article.
First of all. If you think that—You’re wrong.
I don’t often like to cut things into two sides, left, right, right, wrong. I think it’s a limited way of thinking. But here, really, I gotta say it. And I'm gonna say it again: You’re wrong. Dead wrong.
Did you know that you can travel through Thailand (and most other countries in Southeast Asia) on a budget of US$30 per day? That covers everything. Accommodation, all meals, transport, entry to sightseeing spots, and a little splurging. If you’re going to say you’re too poor to travel, then think about the kind of wages the people in these countries must be on for traveling to cost so little. (While it’s unfair, at least by visiting these countries we’re able to contribute a little economically, and, by exposing ourselves to their lifestyle, we’ll be more appreciative of differences, which will mean we’ll all be more open to helping each other when such opportunities do present themselves.)
Compare that to traveling the US where you’d be paying around US$30 for accommodation alone (and that would probably be at a shitty backpackers). Of course if you’re wanting to travel the US, that does mean travel might be more "difficult"—but it’s not unattainable just because you’re a certain class of citizen!
Of course, even with cheaper countries, there is still the plane ticket to think about. Plane tickets are probably the biggest cost you’ll have to consider when traveling. But that’s great, because it means that you know the set amount you need to save for, and if you can save that amount, you know you’ll also be able to save for other costs.
It all looks like a big amount of money when you put it on a single ticket like that, but in reality, you just need to straighten out your priorities. Too many of the people I know that complain about not having money for nice things like travel don’t even realise how much money they are already spending on unnecessary things.
Eating out every day instead of packing lunch or making dinner, which could save thousands (hello, plane tickets), buying treats regularly, there is a range of things people spend excess amounts of money on without realising it.
The thing is, there are vast amounts of people who can only afford to travel because they don’t spend money on these other things. They are not so-called “privileged” people who happen to have some extra cash lying around. As a matter of fact, you might find them to be the stingiest folks you've ever met. They go months without ever going out to eat or party, so they can save for that epic, mind-blowing, life-changing trip. They are simply people who know exactly what they want, and how to get it.
And really, is giving up your daily bottle of Coca-Cola really that bad if it means you get to have the trip of a lifetime? Or even better, trips of a lifetime?
It's all about how you set your priorities.
While we’re on the topic, I think a large reason travel is viewed as a privilege is because there is this preconception that a trip overseas has to be fancy. That it involves sleeping in a nice hotel, doing expensive activities like diving or going on tours, eating at five-star restaurants every night. Now, while that might be true for some, huge amounts of travelers move on a budget. Ever heard of a backpacker? Yeah.
If you have this image in your head of travel always being fancy, then pal, please wake up. Stop watching so many James Bond films. Life isn’t a movie, and the reality of travel can be much harsher than some might imagine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m promoting travel for everyone here, and I think if we all did it, the change in the world could be outstanding. But we need to accept that with the good experiences, there are also bad—that's what makes travel special.
As well as movies, I guess I will blame social media and advertising for creating such a glorified image of travel. It is fantastic, you do see amazing sights, the world is freaking beautiful, but hey let’s not forget that safari where we ate crappy food every night and didn’t shower for days, or that time we got zero sleep at the hostel because some fool wouldn’t stop snoring, or when we got lost in a hailstorm for several hours.
Stop idealising travel.
It’s not always perfect and extravagant, but on the other hand, you don’t have to do the most expensive things to have a good time. Doing just about anything when you’re in a different country is a new experience, simply because the culture difference means things could work differently from how you’re used to, or you’ll see new things. Take going for a walk, for example. New place, new scene, new things to see. (I mean, my first time alone in a foreign country I didn’t even walk across the road legally, that’s how different it was). It’s awesome what you can discover, and how much money did you just spend? Zero.
There’s also a huge amount of museums, galleries etc. you can visit either for free or for next to no money. Just Google things to do when traveling on a budget. People have been doing this for ages, trust me. And they still come back from their trips with incredible memories. Some might say, better memories than if you had been at a five-star resort every night.
The only really legitimate reason I can think of for not being able to travel is having “other commitments.” In which case, well, it would have been good to take the opportunity when you were younger, but if it’s too late for that—even if you do have a family or a hobby that keeps you in one country, I would really recommend you try to work around it. Of course you may not be able to afford a trip for the whole family, but if you can get away, even for a short time, even just by yourself, I would really encourage you to do it (check out my other posts on solo travel for more info).
As for being tied down by work, everyone has holidays, and I’d advise you to find some way to lump these together so you can travel. Depending on how strict your employer is, it may indeed be difficult, and you may not be able to travel often (or maybe it’s time for a change of jobs). But I once again encourage you to make a conscious effort to travel at least a little—the reward is really worth it.
Most importantly, let us remember that “other commitments” are often a choice, and there is no reason to make travel out as a privileged person’s activity. This will only discourage people from trying it, and dismiss the hard work of those who have done the saving and organising required to travel—not to mention the enduring of the bad moments!
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