“How on earth did you manage to visit all the continents at your age?” people ask me.
“Well, mainly thanks to the miracle of flight,” I tell them.
They look at me like they expect me to stop being sarcastic and start talking some sense. So I tell them; “look, if you are looking for that mystical, all-conquering key to the world, then I’m sorry, but there are none!”
The real key to travel is much simpler than that. Simple, yet one hell of a challenge. They still look at me like they haven’t a clue what I’m on about. So I break that challenge into simpler, bite-sized chunks for them:
Do Not Be Afraid Of The World
Traveling abroad for the first time, understandably, is one of the most daunting prospects one can ever face. And for good reason; there are a lot of messed up people and places out there. But there are also a lot of good, quite a few positively impressive and some downright fucking mind-blowingly awesome people and places out there too.
It’s a simple choice, really; play it safe and see neither, or trust yourself, go out there and see and feel things the way they were meant to be seen and felt; not on this screen, but rather playing out right before you in the real world.
I Repeat…Do Be Afraid Of The World
As I mentioned earlier, there are heaps of messed-up places and even more messed-up people out in the world. But the most dangerous thing about the world isn’t a particular people or place, but rather what the world tends to do to us if we let it. Look around you; how many of the people you see around you are sleep-walking through life?
How many are living stereotypes? how many are working now, to travel later when they’ve retired?
The simple truth is I’m terrified of being beaten into submission by the world.
I’m afraid of being forced into choosing a secure but limited life of 9-5 just because the world had declared my dreams unrealistic. I’m petrified of waking up one day and wondering just where the hell my life had gone. I travel, because as scary as it may seem, staying put scares me even more.
1. Love Your Wallet
I’ve met far too many people who wish to travel, yet recklessly spend two hundred bucks on a new pair of kicks when they already own half a dozen.
The simple truth is, you have to sacrifice your lavish spending habits if you want to travel more.
A gigantic wardrobe, too many coffees from hip cafes and big nights out prowling the bars and clubs, are an excellent way to anger the God’s of travel. Of course, living a frugal lifestyle doesn’t mean living; but rather pacing yourself and spending your dollars on activities which offer you the most value.
2. Work/Volunteer As You Travel
From a tour guide in Panama to an English teacher in Brazil to working in a tiger sanctuary in Thailand, I’ve always tried to include some kind of volunteering/work in my travel itineraries. These experiences have not only taught me many invaluable practical lessons in the real world but have also helped me save on the costs of accommodation and food.
You don’t even need to plan ahead; using a website like workaway.com, you can find jobs conveniently on the go.
That’s it, I tell them. I haven’t joined any royalty airline programs, don’t have a credit card which offers me crazy award points, or use a secret site to book my flights. There are probably other ways to make traveling even more affordable, that I’m still learning myself.
They listen intently to everything I say. But I can already tell that some of them will never give up their coffees, their wardrobes, or take the leap. And that’s alright. If there is one thing I have learned from years on the road, it’s that traveling isn’t the only path to happiness.
As long as you are actively pursuing your dreams, wherever they may lay, you are a traveler.