It’s so glamorous, those friends who are always jet-setting across the globe. Taking selfies and pictures with beautiful landscapes and monuments. You feel jealous and little envious too and you think, well someday I will do it! Well I hate to break it to you but unless you do something about it now, it most likely won’t happen.
The reality for most people is that they can’t run off and travel the world when they please. And it would be hypocritical to sit here and say otherwise. Society is just set up to not encourage world travelers and it feels we have more expensive and precious events to worry about, like paying for college or finding a steady job. What I argue is we all need a different view on what it means to travel.
If you’re anything like me, then you may feel stuck between two worlds. I see myself as a world traveler yet don’t travel full-time, at least not yet. I can’t afford to or at least not at a high standard. I know there are plenty of travelers who rough it and travel for many years, but this isn’t the solution for me. What about the people who crave adventure but also want to create a life at home, can you have both?
The answer I have is yes, but that life may not look like what you think it will. To have both worlds, a traveling one and a life at home, there will be sacrifices in both. Some harder than others. But if you craft your life the way you see fit, if you’re creative enough, and if you’re knowledgeable enough, it can be done.
1. Start Wherever you Can
It’s all very daunting at first and we live in an age where information is available when we want it. This is both a blessing and a burden because it’s hard to sort through information that can help.
My suggestion is to first look at your life situation and decide if it’s even possible to begin a new lifestyle. If the answer is yes than move on to step 2. If the answer is no then there will be a lot of soul-searching. Choosing a different lifestyle is never easy but if the travel lifestyle is where you think you belong and want to be, then is it really a hard decision?
My goal is to travel permanently yet my life situation doesn’t allow that. I could wallow in self-pity or do something about it. I decided to do something about and focus on travel that makes sense for my life situation now. I live in a wonderful country and there are many places I can travel for a weekend, hence why I’m the weekend traveler; for now. The point is, we all have to start somewhere to achieve the bigger goal.
2. Financial Reality Check
We all have dreams but then the crushing realities of life come down on us and most of let go of those dreams. This kind of refers back to step 1, in that we all have to start somewhere. That includes checking where you’re finances are. If you’re in major debt, there is still time for mini trips but focus on quickly paying debt off first.
I suggest that you use sites like Mint and Credit Karma for a better understanding of your current financial situation. Use Reddit subreddits like decidingtobebetter, financialindependence, getdisciplined, getmotivated, and other websites like ZenHabits, and The Art of Non-Conformity to kick yourself into becoming the person you want to be. All of these helped me, to shape myself, into the type of person and traveler I am today.
Bottom-line, you need to know your current financial situation before you can start a travel lifestyle. Looking back, I’m very thankful for the advice I received, and more grateful I followed them up.
3. Change your Lifestyle
This is big one and probably the most difficult for people to come to terms with. The quote that I think of the most when it comes to this is.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
To sum it up, if you want a different outcome for your life, you best change how you live it. And now you know why most people don’t succeed.
But yeah you’re going to need to change your lifestyle if you ever want a good travel lifestyle. Because we can’t be everywhere at once and we can’t do it all. Like with most things in life there are sacrifices but travel is certainly worth all those sacrifices. You just have to follow through and change your lifestyle. That may include giving up physical stuff in your life that burden you, cutting back at work, or getting over fears of leaving somebody behind. Do this hard step and the rewards will come back ten fold.
4. Make the Hard Choices
Which brings me to this point, you actually have to follow through with the hard choices! That may be leaving your family, friends, or current life behind. It’s fine to dream that you will do it but it’s another thing to actually do it. For me it was tough at first because I sacrificed time with friends, family and finances for more of a travel lifestyle but feel I have adapted quite well. I have a feeling you’ll do the same.
The crazy positive side effect from all of this is that I started to see life differently. I somehow became more confident than others and realized that what I thought wasn’t possible at first, now is. It was my attitude and choices all along stopping me.
5. Gain Knowledge
Once you’ve let go of any mental blocks, you’re ready to gain the knowledge. And so much to know! Sure you’ll mess up a long the way but to become a great traveler, especially on a low budget, there is lots of reading and learning from others who have done it before you. I learned through websites like Nomadic Matt, Seth Godin, The Art of Non-Conformity, One Mile at a Time, The Point Guys, Million Mile Secrets, Airfarewatchdog, through subreddits on Reddit and from my knowledge. By being prudent, resourceful and willing to simply read, you’ll find amazing ideas, advice and knowledge.
So my advice is to follow websites like those, mine, etc and take all that great free advice. I have a Start Here page, Travel Blog page and a Travel Resources page to start from. My first suggestion would be to start getting travel credit cards for their award bonuses. Those bonuses get you free airline tickets, free hotels, and open you up to a more exclusive travel experience that you may have not thought possible.
6. Get Creative
This is where the true fun begins because at this point you’ll be thinking, in advance, of ways to constantly keep traveling. I feel like I’m always thinking of ways to travel more often even when I have a full-time job. I now don’t see my job as a deterrence but just another obstacle that I work with. If I’m diligent and disciplined, I can take as many weekend trips as I want plus a longer trip at least once a year. To some people this sounds a lot, to other experts this may sound like nothing.
But it’s a start for me and for somebody my age to have traveled to 41 countries plus 36 states, I’m not doing too bad. It’s just following through with the goals and steps I’ve set out for myself to be able to do this. Travel continues to keep me happy and we should always do things that make us happy, no matter how challenging they may be.
The point is to get creative. There is a solution if you’re willing to work hard enough. Sometimes that means being brave in front of people you care about. Sometimes that means sacrificing other things you care about. Sometimes that means some serious travel hacks. Whatever you have to do, as long as it’s legal, do it because a travel lifestyle is so much fun.
7. Be the Pro
One day you’ll look back and think how did I get here? You’ll be a pro and perhaps you won’t even realize until you meet someone who isn’t. You’ll know how to find great deals, know how to use credit cards to your advantage, know how to travel mentally tough, you’ll be experienced with countries, airports, cultures, people, food, sickness, boredom, and you’ll be experienced with a travel lifestyle. If it’s the life you always wanted, this is very exciting and something travelers dream about.
I’m there somewhat but I’m still not at my complete vision. But hey, that’s ok. Because I know I’m doing the necessary to steps to fulfill my dreams. I have to make many sacrifices but I’ve long since been ok with the choices I’m making. Because I know a lot but I could know more. I’ve seen a lot but at times it feels I haven’t seen anything. Travel is a never-ending quest that always keeps me satisfied and challenged. That’s why I want the travel lifestyle.