This is the first installation of my “How To Start Traveling Series”. Read more here.
I pretty much only travel solo, and while that used to be a choice, recently it’s because I can’t find anyone to travel with. I ask people all the time to join me in Thailand or Paris or wherever, and I’m completely serious when I do so, but I know that fewer than one in a fifty people will actually take me up on the offer. I see their eyes light up with the possibility…just before they look away and start listing all the reasons they can’t.
It’s frustrating because I know they can go with me, but they’re not letting themselves.
The following ‘reasons’ you’re not going on that three week vacation in September, or not backpacking through South America like you’ve secretly been dying to do, or not even taking that weekend getaway to the mountains, are actually excuses, not reasons. I’m going to call them excuses so you feel bad about using them. Yes, I’m trying to shame you into travel.
Excuse #1: “I don’t have the money”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard this line I’d have enough money to buy you that stinkin’ plane ticket! I think the root of this excuse is the misconception that travel is only for the idle wealthy, those with matching leather luggage and money oozing out of their pores. This is not the case. I mean, seriously, do I look like one of those people?
So how much does travel actually cost? I can’t answer that–there are simply too many destinations and options out there. But that’s the beauty of it–there’s a trip for every budget. Personally, on a three week trip I have spent as little as $600 and as much as $3000. I’ve also traveled for months at a time for a few thousand dollars.
There are hundreds of online resources to help you travel cheaper (check out www.nomadwallet.com to get started), so I’m not going to go into details here. What I will do is provide some price comparisons to put the cost of travel into context. If you can afford any of the following, you can afford to travel. If you can’t afford these things right now, then plan a trip for next year or the year after (a real trip, not an imaginary one–start here then make a savings plan).
The moral of the story here, and the point I will try to pound into your head, is that travel is a choice. You can choose to put your money towards coffee and eating out, or you can choose to put your money towards airfare. And I’m not saying that you should sacrifice all the things you enjoy so you can afford that one trip, but if you tell me you can’t afford to travel while we’re noshing on Beau Jo’s pizza a splitting a pitcher of beer, I’m not going to believe you.
Excuse #2: I don’t have the time
This one is harder to tackle than the money issue. (This is particularly true with Americans. The original American Dream has morphed into a culture of uncompromising hard work with nothing but monetary reward–and that’s only if you’re lucky. Personally, I’d rather my hard work be rewarded with more vacation time, but that’s not an option).
Anyways, we’re caught up in this idea that we don’t have any time to waste. In my mind, that’s even more reason for traveling now–you can’t take your dream trip to India when you’re dead. Furthermore, item #6 in this article says taking a vacation increases your life span, so really, you’re not losing any time at all–it comes out even! Seriously, though, taking a break is healthy and good and will make you happier–isn’t that important?
And for those whose work responsibilities are too overwhelming to permit a two-week vacation, my advice is blunt: lighten up. Very few people in this world are important enough to bring their company to ruins if they step out for a quick vacation. To put it another way, think about this: what if you were in a serious car accident and were hospitalized for three weeks. Would your company survive while you healed? If the answer is yes, then it will also survive while you heal your overworked spirit on vacation. (And wouldn’t you rather be on vacation than in a hospital?)
Excuse #3: I’m afraid
Okay, no one actually says they’re afraid, but it’s in the back (or front) of everyone’s mind when they contemplate travel. Maybe you’re a nervous flyer, or you fear not being in control all the time, or you’re overwhelmed by visiting a country that doesn’t speak your first language. Those are all legitimate concerns, but please don’t let them stop you. I have faced down those fears in dozens of countries, and yet I’m still a little afraid of my upcoming trip. Does it mean I’m not going to go? Hell no. It just means I have to put on my big girl panties and deal with those fears like the intelligent, resourceful, adaptable human I know I am [deep, deep down inside].
Another fear people often have is less tangible: it’s the fear of being gone, of not being home. That’s not scary on the surface, but it leaves us with a lot of doubt. For example, your friends will be living their normal lives–without you there. Will they forget you? Will they realize you’re not important in their lives? Again, lighten up. I have these fears every time I leave, and yet every time I come home I am welcomed with open arms and a return to normalcy that honestly bewilders me. Life will go on, but you will be enriched because of your travels, and will then enrich the lives of your friends with your stories and perspectives. Only good things will come of that.
There you have it, the Big 3 Excuses and why you shouldn’t make them. I hope this post has inspired you to take that vacation in Scotland or book that trip to Peru. Or, if ‘inspire’ isn’t the word, maybe it’s given you a much-needed kick in the pants! Here’s to your happy travels!