Subtlety has never been my strong suit. Clearly writing normal-length blog posts also eludes me (this one’s a doozy, sorry in advance).
Little known fact about me, I LOVE pep talks! I hate getting them, but I love giving them. Prepare to be pepped.
There is just something about me that makes people want to spill all their thoughts and feelings. I should have been a therapist that way I could afford to pay my bills on time and not be living with my parents. From break-ups and make-ups to quarter life crises to following your dreams, I got you covered.
But my specialty? Encouraging and inspiring people to move abroad and travel the world. Everyone needs a little pushing and prodding in the right direction. Some people even need a giant kick in the ass to get out the door, even me. It took two awful break ups to stop being a weenie and start following my travel dreams.
Moral of the story: don’t be a weenie.
In all seriousness, think hard, really hard. Do you REALLY want to travel? Is moving abroad on your life to-do list? Do you NOT get to travel as much as you would like for some reason? Is that reason MONEY? What is holding you back from your travel dreams?
75 percent of young Americans say that they wish they could travel more but don’t really mean it (I just made that up). My point is to be honest with yourself first and foremost and think about your priorities. Is travel important enough to you that you are willing to make some other sacrifices in your life to make it happen?
I get way too many messages from people asking travel advice, and I also get way too many backhanded remarks saying the dreaded “I wish I could travel like you do.”
I HATE THAT COMMENT SO MUCH! God, it kills me every time I hear it!
Newsflash people, you totally can!
But don’t say it if you don’t mean it! Have you violated border control and thus have been banned from every country in the world? Are you in the hospital or in jail? Are you trapped in a war-torn country and are physically being detained and cannot leave? Are you indebted to the Mafia and are so poor you can’t even buy ramen? If your answer is E: none of the above, then can it.
Of course there are many smaller reasons that keep people from traveling as much as they would like, like families, relationships and money, but let me tell you, you can work around that IF traveling is a priority for you, IF being the operative word. Let me tell you, there is a big fat difference between CAN’T and WON’T when it comes to traveling.
So here are the 10 most common excuses I hear about why people don’t travel, and my 10 reasons why they are complete BS and why ANYONE can go travel the world if they really want to:
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
1. “I can’t afford to travel; I don’t have any money.”
Boom, if I had a dime for every time I heard this whopper I would have a lot of dimes. Let’s go back to the priorities question. Is traveling a legitimate priority for you, or just a whim? I’ll fill you in on a big secret: if you really want to travel or live abroad at some point in your life, it’s totally possible, no matter how broke you are IF you make it a priority.
Nothing makes me angrier (exaggeration) than someone wearing $150 furry boots who drives a new car and has the newest iPhone tell me “I wish I could travel more but I can’t afford it.” BS missy! It’s called prioritizing your expenses. How badly do you want to go to Paris? Do you want it more than a shopping spree, a new phone, or dinner and drinks out with your friends?
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to be trust fund babies, and we have to make our own way in the world which means we have to pick and choose our expenditures. Cut out something you don’t care a lot about and save up for the trip of your dreams, whether it takes 1 month of saving or 1 year, it’s all up to you and you can make it happen.
Here are some inspiring money-saving posts:
- Twenty-Something Travel: How I Saved 20K in Less Than 2 Years
- Adventurous Kate: How I saved $13,000 for Travel in Just 7 Months
- Forbes: How I Saved Enough to Travel the World for 5 Years
- Boots n All: 28 Ways to Save Money for Traveling
- Never Ending Voyage: How We Saved 75% of Our Income to Travel
- Nomadic Matt: 20 Ways to Cut Your Expenses, Grow Your Bank Balance, and Have Money for Travel
*See more below*
2. “I don’t have anyone to travel with, and I am too nervous to travel alone.”
Personally, I love traveling alone. It is pure freedom and you don’t have to worry about the wants and needs of other people; you can do whatever you want without compromise. I’m inherently very selfish so this is perfect for me. But realistically, I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
However, don’t let the fear of going alone keep you from following your travel dreams. Not going somewhere you really want to go to because you can’t find a travel companion is just plain STUPID. All caps.
Grow a pair. Are you really that dependent?
The great thing about traveling is that you meet a ton of people and it’s easy to make friends. Everyone is outside their comfort zones and usually pretty happy, so I find I meet people without even trying. There are great communities for people traveling online too (like couchsurfers, even if you aren’t couchsurfing), and if you want to move abroad, there are usually expat groups around town that schedule meet ups. And don’t forget us bloggers, we are veritable social butterflies. People ask to meet me all the time when they come to Spain, though I usually say no because they are 50 year old men. Use sound judgment, ladies, and always carry a rape whistle (personal motto-patent pending).
Otherwise look into organized tours around the world. That is one of the best ways to travel and not be alone. Companies like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel cater towards a younger, hipper crowd so you won’t be stuck on a bus with a bunch of old people. I guarantee if you book a tour alone, you will come home with a dozen new best friends, not to mention the experience of a lifetime.
Because when you travel alone, you are never really alone.
Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
3. “I’m afraid my boyfriend will break up with me.”
Newsflash, honey-bun, if your boyfriend (or significant other) will break up with you because you want to travel, it’s not meant to be.
Ouch! I know how hard it is to hear it when people say “I know how you feel, I’ve been there,” but in this case it’s true, I really know how it feels because I’ve been there myself. Twice. In my 24 years I’ve walked, stumbled and roamed my way around the planet, I have had two separate boyfriends tell me they don’t want to be with someone traveling or living abroad. That is something really awful to go through.
How do you make that choice? Love versus travel? Honestly, I believe you shouldn’t even have to make that choice at all. When it’s truly the right person and at the right time in your life, it won’t matter where you are living or where you are going. Either they will come with you or you will make it work long distance. Those are just details. If someone is willing to end a relationship over travel, that’s really shitty, they are not worth being in your life. End of story.
Trust me (again) you will regret it if you give up your dreams for someone else. Maybe not at first but it will turn bitter and sour and probably eventually ruin a relationship. I have seen this happen with several friends. How many people regret NOT traveling? Millions. How many regret traveling? None. Unless you get malaria or something.
In Cappadocia, Turkey. This is not my quote but I can’t figure out who coined it. Help?!
4. “Traveling is so expensive.”
Let me fill you in on a little secret: the world is also not as expensive as you think it is.
There is a prevalent (totally wrong) idea, at least in the US, that travel is a great luxury and is very costly. Don’t get me wrong, it can certainly be expensive but it is nowhere what people believe it to be, especially if you plan right. There are dozens of discount sites to help you plan an affordable vacation, and like with everything in life, there is a huge range of expenses you can incur. Sites I use and love: for sleeping: Couchsurfing, Hostelworld and Booking.com and for flying: Skyscanner and Kayak.
For example, travel blogger Nomadic Matt has recently published a book called How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. That may seem like a lot but it’s actually not if you really think about it. $50 a day = $18,250 for a year’s worth of traveling the world. I am guessing that most people who work full time earn more than this, so for example if you were to squirrel away as much as possible, I bet you could save that amount in two years or less if you were dedicated.
Of course that is if you want to take a year off to travel the world indefinitely. If you want to move abroad and work, it would be much less, and many people just want to plan a trip for 10 days to a month, which is so much less, and depending on where you’re going and what time of the year, it can be incredibly cheap.
5. “I don’t have time to travel.”
Make time to travel then. You have more time than you think.
Easier said than done, I understand. America is a hot mess when it comes to vacation time. We get totally shafted compared to the rest of the world, and there is this perverse mentality that you live to work instead of the other way around. If you are in a job where you are stuck with limited vacation days, do what you can to maximize the time you do get.
I’m in the most white-bread boring cookie cutter corporate job at the moment, and I get 10 days paid vacation plus 10 paid company holidays plus 5 days sick leave a year. I think this is pretty standard. If you really want to travel, try not to use a day here and there, and instead save up and group them together. For example when I went to Turkey, I had a Monday off for President’s Day, then I only had to use 4 days of my own vacation time, I flexed in the week before so I had half a day on Friday for time to catch a red-eye flight to Germany giving me a nice 10 day trip in Turkey with leftover days to spare. Try to arrange your trips around holidays to save on vacation time.
6. “Traveling is dangerous.”
Ha.Ha.Ha. This would be funny if I didn’t hear it so goddamn often (MOM). Of course traveling is dangerous, EVERYTHING is dangerous nowadays. But is traveling MORE dangerous than staying at home? Not really. The world isn’t as scary as we are led to believe.
This idea is really predominant in the United States. For some reason, there persists a strong feeling of xenophobia among Americans, which is incredibly ironic considering we are country made up almost entirely of immigrants! We as a country are afraid of the rest of the world. Why? Someone please enlighten me!
Statistically speaking, we have some of of the highest murder rates in the world, along with Central America. If I weren’t American, I would be afraid to come to America! Personally speaking, I am not afraid traveling around other countries alone as a young women, as when I have to walk to my car at night outside Washington D.C.
Just the other night I was waiting on an empty metro train minding my own business when two SKETCH guys came in and sat down next to me and tried to hit on me and touch my leg. As I am a lady (most of the time) I will not repeat what they said to me here. I mean these dudes were SCARY. They had face tattoos. And not tribal face tattoos either. I listen to Lil’ Wayne, I know a thug when I see one. I was out of that train car faster than a knife fight in a phone booth. Convinced I had narrowly avoided getting shot, mugged, or gangbanged, or all three, I spent the rest of the train ride hyperventilating several cars down with one hand on my pepper spray the other on my cell phone. Sometimes I forget just how sketchy DC can be. But my point is that I just spent 2 years abroad traveling the world, and that moment on the metro was the most scared I’ve felt.
Pot calling the kettle black, America. You should not be calling other countries “dangerous,” especially when you have several cities on the list of highest murder rates in the world.
For example, when I told people I was traveling to Egypt after the Revolution or Turkey after the bombing of the US Embassy, many of my close friends and family told me I was crazy and urged me to cancel my trips, which of course I didn’t. And I was right. It’s important to realize the difference between “dangerous” destinations and “unlucky” destinations. If you take precautions and are a smart traveler, why should it be considered riskier than anything else?
Just avoid Mexico and Detroit and you should be fine.
7. “I can’t travel because of my student loans.”
Of course we all have unexpected expenses and obligations, but even with them, you can still budget in a trip or two if you really want to. I think I am a pretty good example because I have almost 6 figures in student loan debt (shit, I can’t believe I admitted that publicly. No one is going to want to marry me now). Not to sound like a total douche, but I haven’t met that many people my age who could top that.
Most of my loans are flexible but I have a massive one with Sallie Mae that has been strangling me since 2009, BUT I make it part of my budget. When I first decided to move to Spain, one of the deciding factors was that I would be given the official status of “student” meaning I could defer my loans. Some of them accumulated interest but for me, it was worth it to get to live in Spain, and what was a thousand dollars or so when you already owe $90,000+?
Of course that doesn’t mean that everyone should defer or put their loans in forbearance, but it is an option, and there are ways in which you can still travel, even long term, and deal with heavy loan debt. If you are saving for a big trip over several months or so, you can budget in your monthly loan repayment – that is what I am doing now. Other options include consolidating or lowering your monthly payments. I have a full post dedicated on how to deal with student loans while in Spain. There are options out there, don’t feel trapped or feel like you can’t travel because you have a ton of student loan debt.
8. “I have a food allergy”
Ok, this isn’t the most common excuse, but it’s one I hear quite a lot since I travel with a life-threatening food allergy and I’ve started writing about it; somehow I have become the poster child for food allergies, not exactly what I would like to be known for but meh, fine I guess. Check out my story about how Dublin almost killed me.
Caption contest! At the original Starbucks in Seattle, WA
Many people feel that they can’t travel because of their food allergy or illness, and I get a surprising amount of emails asking for tips and advice, along with even more from angry moms berating me for being a bad influence on their kids.
Even if you have a life-threatening allergy you can still travel if you plan ahead and are smart about it. Research the country you are going to and their foods and don’t eat food you don’t see prepared if you are nervous it might come in contact with what you are allergic to. The rest of the world doesn’t care about lawsuits or food contamination like the US, so when in doubt, say no. Don’t be an idiot like me and make sure you travel with at least two Epi-pens if necessary along with Benadryl. I’ve even started traveling with food allergy translation cards and photos of peanuts to show people in case I can’t communicate properly.
Don’t let a food allergy keep you from traveling.
9. “I have kids.”
Ok you got me there. Not only do I not have kids, but I don’t even think about having for at least 5 years.This personal belief of mine was firmly reaffirmed last weekend when I spent 5 minutes in the family bathroom at Macy’s. Hell. No. Times. A. Billion.
I have met plenty of parents who have told me they wish they could have traveled like me when they were my age but then they had kids. Shaking their heads, they almost always say, “do it while you’re young and you still can.” Honestly, that mentality is not reassuring and is far from convincing me that I want to have a family and grow up any time soon.
Call me naive, but I really hope the day I start popping out kids is NOT the day I throw my passport away. Parents can travel with kids and not be rich, right? It all goes back to priorities and not viewing traveling as a major “luxury.” Travel is as expensive as you make it. I know of plenty of family travel blogs out there, and they make it work somehow. So instead of springing for that fancy summer beach house, why not rent a campervan in New Zealand instead?
I’m determined to be one of those cool moms who takes her kids on adventures every summer, and probably make them go to school abroad. But I will never wear mom pants. Or Tevas. Or fannypacks. Ever.
I’m leaving this one up to you guys. What’s the best, funniest, most innovating excuse you’ve heard for why people don’t travel and why you think it’s crap.
*More inspiring money-saving blog posts:
- How I Financed My Career Break – Katie Going Global
- 20 Tips to Save $1,000 per Month for Your RTW – GloboTreks
- 5 Ways We Saved over $30,000 in 12 Months for Our RTW Trip – Don’t Ever Look Back
- How We Saved Enough Money to Travel the World – Pause the Moment
- 20 Ways to Save Money Now for Your Career Break or Trip Later – Practical Adventurology
- 10 Tips on How to Save for Travel – Ordinary Traveler