What We Should Say Instead: “You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Travel”
Granted, it won’t sell as well. But when you have people listening religiously to everything you say, screw populism: give us the truth.
I’m pretty confident that before actually leaving, preachers of the Instagramable “Being broke is the best time to travel” quote first took the time to save at least some money.
Yes, the sharing economy allows you to travel and sleep for very cheap, sometimes nothing. But you’ll still have to work from time to time.
1. Work Is The Key To Travel, Not What’s Preventing It
That’s the important part of the travel bloggers’ advice: even those who fall for the necessity of using catchy headlines usually also provide tips for you to make money on the road. Unfortunately, we often only listen to what we want to hear: being broke is the best time to travel? Awesome, I’m broke, here I go! I’ll have to work when I’m traveling? Yeah, yeah, we’ll see later…
That’s a shame. It’s the point where the responsibility of setting people on a dangerous path is shared by both the writer and the reader.
As travel blogger Nina from Where In The World Is Nina said in her article on the Huffington Post, if you want to leave for a few weeks, there’s no need for you to quit your job and sell everything you have since you’re basically taking long vacations.
If you’re serious about traveling long-term, get ready to put in some extra work. Nina even suggests taking another job before you leave, because you need to save even more! I wrote more extensively about this in this post on how to make it as a digital nomad and provided some weight tips to make money while traveling
2. You Need To Sort Out Your Priorities
Travel requires (some) money. Bummer, I know.
Unfortunately, that’s the cold hard truth: you can couch surf a few nights, hitchhike your way to your next destination, be graciously offered a free meal… At some point, these options might not be available, and you’ll have to pay for the luxury of traveling. At the very least, you’ll engage in “voluntourism”: in exchange for volunteer work, you get a roof over your head and food on your plate, plus some time to be a tourist.
That’s why I hope you did leave with some savings. And even if you did, that money will eventually run out. What happens then? Either you kiss your dream goodbye, or you get some work to keep living it.
There are two complementary ways to finance. We already touched upon it: make some money by working, either before leaving or when you’re abroad. The second is to save money. Now that’s the most critical part in my opinion. It’s also the easiest one, provided that you’re clear on your priorities. As Zeinab from Runaway Habit puts it, being broke is sometimes a lame excuse for not being able to travel.
Let’s say you’re a smoker. Two packs a week. Or you love drinking out at the bar. Or maybe you “have to” buy these new clothes every other week. Now I assume either option would cost you about 15€ a week. That’s 60€ a month. That’s 720€ a year. That’s an amazing week in South-East Asia. Cut these expenses in half and that’s a terrific trip to Eastern Europe.
All it takes is to be clear on what you want and start acting to make it happen. However…
3. Traveling Isn’t For Everyone
Here’s the thing:
Travelers who write about their lifestyle often present it as the best way to live your life. I’m ready to plead guilty, I’m sure I did.
But it’s not the only way to give meaning to your life! You might actually hate it. Not being able to build long-term relationships, moving every other month, worrying about what could happen…