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What does it mean to travel?
I’ve seen it used as a chance to relax or escape from normality. I’ve seen it tossed around as an excuse to try something new. It’s curious minds stretching already elastic boundaries. It’s a story, crude or quaint. We travel to celebrate life, and the ways we explore it are determined by priorities.
Wanderlust struck me at a young age. As an adolescent fantasy, I yearned to taste life outside the comforts of St. Petersburg, Florida. A wish granted by the combination of work and opportunity.
In 2011, I bought a round trip flight to Gothenburg, Sweden and the rest is history.
And every day that I write about my traveling is another chance for me to conjure up words detailing the moment I fell in love. Fear, anxiety, and curiosity collided the day I stepped off the plane and created euphoria. Something greater than myself, obtained by overwhelming freedom. It’s the spurt of excitement before I get on a bus or plane or hike. I used to think I was running away, but now I know I’m pursuing happiness.
I can’t tell the difference between addiction and passion.
I’m often asked the same tired question, “Where do you find the money to travel?”
I give the same tired answer, save money. But it’s too simplistic. It’s an uninspired response to essence of my own lifestyle. The pedagogy of this blog isn’t a step by step guide to traveling, but a glimpse into my daily life to achieve my passion. I’ll be writing a second blog on “How to Spend Abroad” January 2017.
Dedication and Work
I’ve made it my prerogative to work as much as possible before a trip. The bottom line to traveling is money, and taking any opportunity to make as much as possible.
This meant not having a life outside of the daily grind. I became familiar with overtime, doubt, and the overwhelming fear of failure. The latter of the two intertwined with overtime and stress, but up until now I had been finishing my bachelor’s, writing short stories, and waiting tables for financial sustenance. This lifestyle choice led to a path of fewer nights out with my friends, working more holidays, and ultimately being alone most nights. I cannot preach enough how to manage a responsible level of selfishness.
Shut up. I get it. How do I save?
I’ve always gone about it like this.
There are two parts for saving for a trip: pre-departure and post-departure. I consider these checking and saving accounts. The idea is to pay off a plane ticket, reservations, and gear in advance, while also having the beer money and spontaneous spending cash in the savings account.
A good example of pre-departure spending is my trip to Kilimanjaro. Before I flew to Tanzania, I had paid for my flight, visa, gear, tour, and medical expenses in advance. This meant piling a lot of this on a check card and paying it off over the year before the trip. My first day back from a trip is my first day saving money for my next.
Post-departure money are the funds I place in my savings account, the money I’ll need while trekking across a continent (or for a beer after a twenty-four hour bus ride). These are funds I entertain sporadically. I’ve done $100/month* if there’s a lot of pre-departure expenses and 500/month* for less needy trips. It’s a test of how far I’m willing to go.
If you’re a casual drinker, then I’m sorry. You’ll need to save those beers for later.
I am adamant about watching how much money I spend in a week. The key is to be aware of spending. I give myself a comfortable daily limit to spend. I don’t go out often. I cook and plan meals for myself, and I find inexpensive spots to socialize–I would go crazy without the latter.
It’s a minimalist philosophy with faith in the memories. I don’t have a lot of things, and I don’t have many consumerist desires. But I do purchase thousand dollar plane tickets to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro. A huge part of my aspirations place value upon experiences rather than materials. Without it I would have nothing, right?
So what do we take away from this?
My lifestyle revolves around my passion for travel. I live and breathe every day with preemptive hunger for my first meal once I step off a plane. Every dollar I make is one spent on an irreplaceable story to tell in the future. Traveling isn’t me tapping into my high-end bank vault from when I won the lottery. It’s a symbol of how many hours of work I put in to achieve my goals. I have bills like everyone else. I come home to them, and I leave home with them. The grand scheme of this lifestyle is that anyone can live it with the right amount of dedication and admiration for the world around them, and I hope to see more people out there doing it.