Excuse Buster Series Part 2: It’s Too Expensive To Travel!

Dreaming of travelling the world but think it is too expensive? Are you using the potential cost of a gap year as an excuse not to take one? Well you really don’t have to!

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 world, 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 excuse buster 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.

Is It Too Expensive To Travel The World?

No. It is that simple. 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 take a gap year or go backpacking around the world, or even 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.

Making Excuses.

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 mortgage 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 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.

Making Sacrifices And Saving Up.

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!

How I Do It.

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!

What did you think of the article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

Budget Basics.

Excuse Buster Series Part 1: Why People Make Excuses Not To Travel Independently.

Excuse Buster Series Part 3: I Don’t Have Time To Travel.

How Can I Afford To Travel The World?

How To Completely Blow Your Budget When Backpacking. (Or Ways To Avoid Blowing It).

How To Manage Your Money On Your Gap Year.

How YOU Can Afford To Travel Indefinitely.

Pre Trip Expenses.

Top 10 Ways To Save Money On Your Flight.

Top 10 Tips To Travel Independently On A Budget.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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6 comments on “Excuse Buster Series Part 2: It’s Too Expensive To Travel!
  1. Colin says:

    Yep yep yep!

    Im on my first backpacking tour through Thailand and going to Australia (currently in south Thailand). While parts of my itinary dont quite follow sll of what youve said (accepting that Oz isnt a cheap option!) i can completely get what your putting out here. Priorities!

    One id love for you to explain later if you could is…. You guessed it, TIME OFF WORK!

    I know how ive done it. So interested to see your take and experiences.

    Thanks and keep it up

    • Thanks very much Colin! I really appreciate the comment and the support.

      Don’t worry, backpacking is still possible in typically more expensive countries such as Australia too, it just means you have to manage your budget differently and save up a little more.

      I’ve written a little about that in previous posts such as the ‘Excuse buster series part 7: taking time out will ruin my career’ article and others, and it is certainly something I intend to touch on again in the future.

      Basically I don’t consider myself to be tied to any employer or career. I am an independent practitioner in my own right with in demand qualifications and skills who can work when, where and if I choose. If I decide I want to take extended unpaid leave on top of my paid holidays, I can. It is in my employers interests to keep me, not the other way around. If I want to leave one place of work to travel for a while and then work elsewhere, I can do that very easily. Work and my career is their to serve MY needs, not the other way around.

      Please don’t mistake this paradigm for arrogance, believe me it isn’t. I just have different priorities to most people, and travel is one of them. I have also worked damn hard to get the skills and qualifications to be able to provide myself with an income on my own terms, and my career isn’t the only way I do that as you will see if you click on the books section above!

      It’s all about your mindset, about your priorities, and living the type of life YOU want.

      Anyone can do the same if they want to, they just have to go for it!

  2. Mara says:

    This is is so inspiring!♥

  3. Marceline says:

    Can I have some tips about backpacking in Thailand, like places to visit, where I can stay and the food that I should try, please please please. . .

    • Of course you can Marceline, simply head to the Thailand page in my destinations section, there is plenty of advice there. There are also links to articles on everything from itineraries for Bangkok to ethical elephant tourism. Of course you can always feel free to email me too if you like. 🙂

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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