The second article in this excuse buster series talks about money. Specifically it talks about how people use it – or more specifically a lack of it – as a justification to not follow their travel dreams. It’s an excuse, and they really don’t need to. Here’s why.
In this series of articles I want to blow apart the excuses people use not to travel, the justification they use to fool themselves with as to why they shouldn’t start their dreams of backpacking, and dispel some of the myths and lies that people tell themselves in order to stay within their comfort zone. In this article in the series I want to talk about money.
It’s a dirty subject, especially given the dismal state of the economy we are in right now, but it is an important one. Money, or to be more exact the lack of it, is probably the single biggest reason that people give me for not being able to travel the world.
Almost everyone wants to travel, or at least they say they do. I’ve lost count of how many conversations I have had with people where they declare they would love to go backpacking for a year or to travel to a particular long desired place. I have had so many people tell me that I am so lucky for being able to go away for so long and so often, assuming that I am on a huge salary or I’ve secretly won the lottery somewhere along the line and I’m just not telling anyone. I don’t, and I haven’t.
I am not special, I am not lucky. There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone from travelling the world in the exact same way I do.
But that’s when the excuses start. The first one is almost universally ‘I can’t afford it’, ‘Backpacking is expensive’, ‘I have all my bills to pay’! I have heard these so many times they have lost all meaning to me.
We all have bills to pay, we all have money worries. I have the exact same mortgages and bills as the rest of you, yet I can still manage to grab my backpack and head off into the sunset, and if I can do it, you can too.
There is nothing special about me. I haven’t won the lottery, I don’t have some fancy job in the city with a huge expense account and I certainly haven’t found an old pocket watch in a frying pan in the garage. I’m not some secret billionaire playboy either (I wish I was)! In my day job I’m a staff nurse, and I certainly don’t earn huge windfall bonuses for saving lives the way a banker does for playing with pretend money on the stock market. I’m just an average guy on an average wage, nothing more, nothing less.
So how can I afford to spend months away at a time every year? How have I been able to take huge chunks of time off over the past decade and more to swan off to far flung corners of the world?
It’s easy, first of all I save up. Yes, it really is that simple. I make travelling a priority in my life.
Saving up the money to go travelling isn’t difficult for me, because quite simply I make it a priority. I know many of you will say you have no spare cash, that you have bills to pay and everything else, but guess what? We all do. I just take what little I can and put it toward my next travel fund.
I save a little, I make sacrifices and live my life according to my means, and there is nothing stopping all of you from doing the exact same thing.
You just have to want to go travelling more than you want that night out or that ritual takeaway every Friday night. You have to put travelling over that new pair of jeans you really want or that stack of DVDs you order online every month vainly hoping that you’ll get round to watching them at some point. If you can afford to go out every weekend on a massive night out or waste money on luxuries you don’t really need, you can afford to go travelling. Don’t get me wrong I’m not some miserable hermit scrounging every penny to save up for a plane ticket, I do have occasional meals out and order the odd DVD off the internet, but I also make my holiday funds a priority. I don’t need a fancy new car every couple of years or waste huge amounts of money on ridiculous habits like smoking or drinking. I’d rather put that money toward something meaningful, like travel!
So with hard work and the will to sacrifice a few luxuries, you can save up the money you will need to go travelling.
If you want it badly enough, you will make it happen.
This isn’t the only way though by any means, saving up your money really is just the start. The best thing is, once I had the money to go on my very first backpacking trip all those years ago, I figured out the big travel secret pretty quickly. It’s actually really damn cheap to travel independently if you do it right!
I’m going to let you all in on a well known backpacker secret now. Travel agents have been ripping package tourists off for years. They have been making vast profits of the fact that most people are too lazy or ill informed to do a little bit of research beforehand and realise that they should bypass travel agents altogether. Why pay someone a huge commission to do for you what you can very easily do for yourself with very little effort?
Of course backpacking will still cost money, and lots of it if you are going on an extended gap year or round the world trip, but we are still talking a fraction of the cost of what the same trip would cost with a travel agent. It is true also that thanks to insane petrol prices and punitive taxes from world governments airline tickets can often be ridiculously expensive, and often these will always be the biggest initial expense for any backpacker. There are ways to minimise these costs however, and once the main flight is out of the way you can live like a king or queen on very little money a day in many parts of the world. You can live it up very comfortably indeed in parts of South East Asia, India or South America on less than £20 GBP a day (often a lot less), and the price of a dingy bed and breakfast in London will get you a lavish grand suite in a luxury top star heritage hotel in Indonesia or parts of Africa.
For example I can spend less money in an entire month or more in Thailand than it costs to get most of the all inclusive package tours to Phuket or Koh Samui for a week (incidentally not the nicest islands in the country) that travel agents are offering at the moment, and I can guarantee that I will stay in nicer places, see more of the country, eat better and see and do so much more! Once you learn the basics of how to backpack and actually get out there, I guarantee you can do the exact same thing.
So if you can afford to save up for a two week all inclusive package holiday somewhere, then you can afford to go backpacking.
Even if you are on a limited budget, then don’t worry. Backpacking is ideal for you. The above examples of how you can live in certain parts of the world should give you some idea of how cheap it can be if all you need is a backpackers hostel or a simple fan room for the night. A simple beach hut all to yourself on a tropical island can be yours for just a few pounds, full, filling and delicious meals can be quite literally pennies! All you need to do is get out of the all inclusive mindset where you pay someone to do everything for you and embrace the independence and freedom of backpacking!
So don’t keep telling yourself that you can’t afford to travel, don’t keep telling yourself that it is too expensive, you can, and it isn’t. These are just excuses that people use to keep themselves in their comfort zone and stay at home, to stick with the all inclusive in Magaluf once a year because that is what they know and are familiar with! You can afford to go travelling for a month, a year or even more if you want to. All it takes is a little sacrifice and the willpower and dedication to save up the money you need! So if your heart is telling you that you need to go backpacking (and if you are reading this then it probably is) then stop throwing up roadblocks for yourself and do it!
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