Over the years, I’ve met people who travel and people who don’t. And I gotta tell ya…There’s a whole bunch of misconceptions and stigma towards travellers. The number one misconception:
False: You must be rich to be able to travel.
Wow, do we get this a lot. And almost all the travellers I meet and talk to agree this is the worst one. No, my parents have not paid for my travels since I became a working adult. Nor does my fiancé. Seriously, the people who think this are the worst (if you’re reading this, you’re the worst).
My trips are 100% funded by me and me alone.
Yes, I have a fiancé who has a stable job and he does spoil me with things I rather he didn’t sometimes, but he does not pay for any of my travelling expense. In fact, while he visited me here in Thailand, I paid for his stay and expenses. And although my fiancé is a pretty easy going guy, he still insists on basic comforts like a warm shower, air-conditioning and good eats – stuff that I don’t need, which made his stay cost about 3 times more than I would pay for my own travels. But because I love him, I spoil him as much as I can, and that’s how relationships work.
Well, how then did I manage to travel? Here’s 3 rules I followed and you can too.
1st Rule : You have to really want it.
Just like being fit and healthy, or scoring well in an examination. You need to work for something you want.
I went to work, and although you may be surprised I did like my job. I had my friends at work and a steady pay check and all the comforts of a 9-5 job: paid vacation, health, dental and the like. Yet, I had this nagging feeling that I didn’t want to be in an office. Looking back now, I think one of the reasons I didn’t like corporate life was because I hated sitting at my desk. I’m such an active person and full of energy, sitting in a chair for extended periods of time made me sad. I remember continuously going to the kitchen to make green tea, fill up my water bottle at every file-still-loading-opportunity I got to get away from my desk. I wanted to be free on my feet, or sitting cross-legged on the floor. As Edith Piaf says the first time she heard Non, je ne regrette rien, “C’est moi” (That’s me).
Once I knew that I wanted change, I really started focusing on travelling. I wanted to be able to support myself on my trips and I love, love, love yoga. So why not try my hand at teaching yoga? And so I did, which allowed me to earn some money while being in beautiful vacation spots.
2nd Rule : Save money now.
This will be a long point but it really come down to stop buying shit you don’t need. Your house is messy as it is. Read a book once in a while and cut cable.
Before I got into this lifestyle, I was already preparing for it. I saved money whenever I could, even though I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with that money at the time.
When I worked corporate, it was so clear how people got into debt so easily and had a difficult time saving. This notion of, “But a $7 sandwich won’t make a difference in the long run” – it a lazy and weak mentality. You know it, I know it. This is exactly why I am $3000 dollars ahead of you in savings.
The two big ones here I know people just suck at saving at is: your food and your phone.
1) Your Food:
Let me break it down for you. To make the math simple, let’s just say we’ll assume there are no holidays and you work 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Which is a fair statement, because if you had holidays, you’re spending habits will probably increase, so I’m using the more conservative calculation here. And I’m not including days where you go out for lunch at a sit-down place, your cab ride home after the bars, or your occasional pack of smokes.
A $7 Subway sandwich a day costs you $1,820/year ($7 x 5 days/week x 52 weeks/year)
A $3.50 Starbucks latte a day costs you $910/year.
Your $7 Friday beer (if you can stop at one) costs you $364/year.
Add that all up, you are spending around $3,084/year.
2) Your Phone:
Don’t you dare say you don’t have the money to travel when you’re on Facebook with the latest $700 iPhone 5 that you pay $60/month. That there: $1420/year.
Cost of your food and phone: $4,504
My sandwiches cost me $18.50/week – $962/year
Loaf of bread – $2.50
Lettuce – $1
2 Tomatoes – $2
Filling, either sliced boiled eggs/veggie ham – $5
Banana and oatmeal as snacks – roughly $5
*when I got bored of sandwiches, I switched it up to soup, salads or leftovers. Leftover lunches are the best.
My 3 years outdated phone cost $200 bought with gift cards = free. And my pay as you go plan cost an average of $25/month. Because we can add up to 3 devices on our home wifi Shaw network that is pretty well connected throughout Calgary. If I was out of range, I paid for data at $1/day.
Cost of my food and phone: $1262/year
Through food and phone alone, I saved $3242!!! more than you a year. That could be 2-months of your mortgage payment, your credit card debt payment or 2-weeks all inclusive for two people in Mexico. You may brush of $3000 as a small dent in the pocket in the span of the year, but we all know $3000 is still $3000. And I choose to go to Hawaii with my $3000 as you chomp down on your Subway sandwich.
Also, to me there were so many other benefits to bringing my lunch to work because (a) it’s healthier, I tended to stick to required portions instead of pigging out on a 12-inch footlong and never felt bloated; and (b) it tasted better without mayonnaise lathered on or soaked in teriyaki sauce.
And if the occasion did call for birthdays or colleagues leaving, I’d go out. I just didn’t make a habit of it.
Those are only 2 ways in which I saved more money than you, I have many other ways as well. Usually, you will find what saves you money, makes you healthier. Hate paying for gas? Bike to work and use your fat as fuel and save on a gym membership at the same time.
3rd Rule: Toughen up.
Stop being whiny, stop complaining and just be happy.
What I like about (most) travellers, is that they are really easy-going people. We have the same type of vibe.
We don’t ask for much when we travel which means, we don’t complain much either. We endure long-ass trips on busses and planes, feel like death and all we want to do is have a shower and lay in bed. Yet, we continue to put one foot in front of the other with a heavy ass backpack and smile graciously when we ask for directions. We skip sleeps simply to get over jet lag. And all the while, you may think, that doesn’t sound like fun, who’d wanna do that? We do.
And here’s where the power of mind comes in:
- When I am carrying around that heavy backpack all sweaty, I’m thinking, “Well, this is a good workout. I’m burning off those beer calories from last night.”
- When I eat that same papaya salad day-in, day-out, I’m thinking, “This is so good for my health, full of fibre and so cheap.”
- When I skip sleeps, I’m thinking, “Wow, that was a good novel. I would have never had the time to finish it otherwise.”
- When a mouse crawled onto my hand while I was sleeping, I laughed about it.
- When I get into a scooter accident, I make the best out that situation and gain a friend.
That’s just the way my brain works. I like to think that it’s the same type of mindset that allows climbers to climb mountain, freedivers to suspend their breath for over 10 minutes underwater, or run ultra marathons.
Yes, we have bad days and sometimes we need to vent it out. But if you stop seeing them as bad days, and more as lessons and experiences, the more you get out of your travels. It’s life. When you complain every day, there’s something wrong with you and not the world around you. It takes practice but when you achieve this state, you will definitely get more out of experiences.