We’re not travelling again until January, and I feel the need to blog about something. So here goes…
I tend to try not to let things get to me… namely because they generally don’t really matter and I’m a pretty laid back sort… but I admit there’s one thing I find incredibly annoying… one simple statement…
“You’re lucky you get to travel so much.”
For starters… I don’t believe in luck. Maybe things happen for a reason, maybe they don’t, but there’s absolutely no luck involved in this equation.
Greg and I (well, I have, and Greg is awesome and accommodating, and really is only pretending he doesn’t love visiting all the places we go to) have made the conscious decision to make travelling a priority in our universe. We’ve paid for every flight we’ve taken, every hotel we’ve stayed in, every bus/train/subway/boat ride we’ve been on, and every beer we’ve drank (well, maybe not EVERY beer… we do tend to hang in groups of people who buy rounds). We’ve not won any vacations, we’ve not been sponsored by travel companies to come and visit their resort/hotel/tourist attraction in trade for a positive plug on a blog (for the record, I’m not completely adverse to this… hint, hint), we never get to travel anywhere for work, and we don’t come from old money. We haven’t sold everything we own so we can be nomads (though admittedly I do think about this pretty often), we work within the confines of the holidays we get from our day jobs, and we love every minute travelling we do.
So, you have a job, bills, kids, an addiction to buying vintage shoe boxes, a flock a sheep, no money, no time, an aversion to the colour purple… You don’t want to sell everything you own. You desperately want to travel. And you don’t know where to start.
What’s the trick? Just start. But be warned, it’s hard to stop after you do!
So here’s my handy dandy list of things to think about … from “normal” people, with “normal” jobs, and who live in a place where a plane ticket to ANYWHERE is expensive.
Stop buying crap you don’t need. I, admittedly, have a very strong dislike for stuff (I blame – but also thank – my mother and her hoarder tendencies). I don’t like to dust stuff and things sitting on tables and shelves that have no purpose do not bring any enjoyment to my life… possibly they do for the cats, but they don’t get a say. I make very few exceptions for art/bits and bobs I’ve collected from other places, and chocolate – but we’ve been steadily working towards getting rid of anything we don’t need (preparing for nomadism, maybe … and if you’ve been our house, I swear 90% of the boxes in the garage are business-related!!). If you don’t need/use/want it, why not sell it? (it should likely be yours to dispose of though)
If I’m out somewhere and I’m tempted to buy something – or more likely, if I’m on the internet and looking at nerdy tech gadgets and camera gear – I find that now I tend to think… “How far from here can I get with this money?” More often than not, wanderlust wins… except a few weeks ago when I bought a shiny new netbook. (Netbook is easier to blog from than a tablet, and I’m so clever someone might want to pay me to blog at some point (because the Internet has an extreme shortage of sarcastic bloggers who swear, eschew punctuation, and mention beer in most every entry!), so it’s an investment in my travel future.)
Lattes are expensive. It’s autumn here now… and nothing says autumn like a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Wait! Nothing says autumn like the amazing natural pallet of reds, oranges, and yellows that take over our green spaces (I’m not poetic, I’m sarcastic, move along). But you can still enjoy the latte while admiring the view, right? But wait!! That latte is at least $5. And what if you’re someone who likes to admire the view a lot? Or what if you’re very thirsty? What if you just need caffeine to be able to spend time around other humans? That could be like $25 a week, $100 a month, $1200 a year, or more. I know I can find a trip or two or five with $1200. I know you can too. [For the record here, I am not saying drink less coffee… I am just suggesting you could go in on a coffee maker with your work mates, bring it from home, find the copycat recipe for the PSL syrup on the internet, etc. … unless you are Starbucks, and then I am saying I will happily blog from all of your locations in the world if it’s on your dime.]
Use your kitchen. There’s one in most every house for a reason. We are foodies. Greg has discovered amazing skills with cooking (thank you Food Network). I love baking. It works. We live in a city where every restaurant is mediocre at best… which is maybe a good thing, because we rarely eat out. And rarely eating out saves scads of cash. Scads of cash can go on vacations (or save for retirement, or buy you a car… but let’s be realistic here… I care about those things less than travelling!) We can eat out in places we’ve never been before. We can try amazing new cuisine, and then I can nag Greg to learn to cook it for me when we get home. Win win. A multi-course meal out with drinks could cost more than a nice visit to the next city over – all trips don’t have to be to the other side of the world.
Bartering rocks. We’re in a bit of unique situation in that we also own a business in addition to our lemming-esque – er, very important and thought provoking and universe bettering – day jobs. So if we offer a product someone might like to have, and they have something we might like to have, offering a trade never hurts – the worst they can say is no. Maybe you don’t have your own business, but everyone is good at something. Offer to do some baking for someone who knits – voila, you have a lovely homemade gift for someone. Great with cars? Got some mad skillz with a camera/computer/plants/robots? See where I’m going 🙂
Credit cards are not your friend. Oh, this one might get a little preachy… hang in there, and sorry. It’s only because I have your best interests at heart. Points or rewards cards could be your friend – if you pay them off completely every month. Otherwise, they have their stupid new microchip firmly planted on the side of not your friend. I’m not an expert on credit cards or financial planning, and especially not cards from outside my country, but here’s what I do know. Rewards cards have significantly higher interest rates than their non-rewards counterparts. So while getting points is awesome when they equate to free hotels and cheaper flights and other stuff us wanderers dig – it may be that you could have just paid for them (possibly many times over) with the interest you’ve paid on a card that you were trying to accumulate points on. Some rewards/points expire, many have ridiculous blackout dates/restrictions/rules, and read that travel insurance coverage stuff they offer carefully (it likely sounds better than it is). If you are super awesome with money and always pay your balances – carry on 🙂 I’m not sure why you’re reading this anyways… but thanks!
Kill your television. I loved that song by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin when I was younger, so I’m stealing its title. Cable, like many other things in the universe, costs a lot of money. I’m pretty sure I could travel around the world on what the average cable consumer pays in a year. Unless you adore it (and that’s ok too of course), you could cut it back or cancel it. Can’t you watch everything on the Internet these days anyway? If you have a thousand channels and you only watch three, is it really worth it anyway?
Turn the lights off. Buy more candles. It’s my blog, I’m certainly allowed to add a shameless plug as I feel it necessary 🙂 I went to Japan for a few weeks in the winter of 2007. When I came back, I discovered two things – Greg had worked his way through the entire house and determined the cost of running everything power-based and had started to cut our electricity usage accordingly, and all my plants were dead (they froze – see point number one). Less money for the giant power-company overlords, more money for the travel fund. It’s cool with me.
Be nice. Make friends. I know all my friends would let me sleep on their couch. This is especially handy when said couch is not in the same city where I live. Making friends with a pilot may also be a great idea, now that I’m thinking about it… especially if they own a plane… or something along those lines. Have no friends in other places? There’s an app for that! Well, probably there is – I didn’t actually check. But there’s services for it online, and likely at least one of them has an app. Google it up 🙂
Leave a man behind. I adore my husband. I also adore my family and my friends. In life, I completely agree that the practice of never leaving a man behind is a good one… But there’s nothing wrong with the occasional adventure on your own… it lets you grow as a person and all that kind of cliché stuff that happens to probably be true. It could also cut the travel expenses in half. And likely if I asked Greg for his input for this blog-o-saur, this would likely be what he suggests. That, and drink more beer!
I’m not ridiculous (well, not completely ridiculous)… I do understand that sometimes in life there’s things we need to buy or spend money on that aren’t even a little bit related to travelling… like clothes if you’re not a nudist or if you live in a place that snows a lot. I’m just saying if you consider looking at things differently, you may find that the dream vacation you have been saving for or just dreaming about for so long is not as unrealistic or as far away as you might think.