No More Excuses! Go Abroad Now!

Travel excuses

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.

Travel excuses

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!

Travel excuses

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:

Travel excuses

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:

*See more below*

Travel excuses

Ollantaytambo, Peru

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?

Travel excuses

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.

Travel excuses

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.

Travel excuses

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.

Travel excuses

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.

Travel excuses

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.

Natrually, there are some things that we just can’t prevent, but you can at the very least protect yourself financially with World Nomads Travel Insurance if you have an accident or your shit gets stolen. I have used them for years and strongly recommend their service. Each policy can be altered online very easily and practically ALL adventure sports are covered!

Travel excuses

Aswan, Egypt

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.

Travel excuses

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+?

Travel excuses

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.

Travel excuses

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.

Travel excuses

 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.

10. “…”

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:

Travel excuses

Bovec, Slovenia

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278 Comments on “No More Excuses! Go Abroad Now!

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  1. >>Just avoid Mexico and Detroit and you should be fine.<<

    Ouch. it really surprises me to hear you categorize the entire country of Mexico as something to avoid.

    I've never been to Detroit, so can't speak for it. but I used to live a few miles from Camden, New Jersey and that place was really bad (and think it's only gotten worse). but still, Detroit isn't a reason to avoid Michigan, right? (i have no idea what is in Michigan to see, but that's not the point)

    Have you been to Mexico and had a bad experience?

    I've been living in Mexico (in the state of Puebla) for almost six months now. I'm from New York, I've lived in Jersey, Philly, Paris, LA, NYC, Florence, Amsterdam, and spent long stretches of time in other random areas.

    I've never felt unsafe in Mexico. I'm not saying that there aren't unsafe areas – there are. And you have to take that into consideration when traveling, and everyone who lives here knows that. But most Mexicans that aren’t from those dangerous areas (which are almost totally in the north, ie: ciudad de Juarez) wouldn’t want to go there either.

    Most of my Philly friends have a story about being mugged, witnessing a murder, getting their house/car broken into, etc. I can’t say the same for my Mexican friends in Puebla (which is the 4th largest city in Mexico at about 1.5-2 million people). I’ve never been harassed in Puebla the way I used to be in Paris, etc etc. I’ve traveled fairly extensively since I’ve been living here – all through Oaxaca State, over to Veracruz, all over Mexico City, beaches, cities, towns… and nothing has ever happened. Not only that, nothing has ever felt like it would happen. that doesn’t mean I don’t stay alert, I do.

    I know people rely on your blog for good advice, and I find a lot of what you write to be entertaining. I don’t think it’s wrong of people to ask “is is safe to travel through Mexico?” before they go. But it isn’t okay to compare the entire country of Mexico to Detroit in the same sentence. as you mentioned above about certain US cities, I feel way safer in Puebla, Mexico City, Querétaro (all big cities in different Mexican states) than I have in Philly, DC, or certain parts of New Jersey and LA.

    Ok, now going back to read the rest of your post. Hope one day you can make it to Mexico and explore for yourself!

    1. You’re totally right Tami, but come on, I was being sarcastic 😀 If everyone took what I said literally, everyone would hate me haha

      I was simply referring to the fact that they have the highest murder rates in the world, that’s why I linked it. It certainly wouldn’t deter me from going but for other first timers who are concerned about “safe” countries, they might want to start out somewhere “less” dangerous. Statistically speaking, you have a much lower chance of getting shot in Spain than you do in Mexico or the US.

      1. I’m from the D (well, in a nice bubble suburb) but i even tell my students how bad it is! Totally made me laugh

      2. I got robbed in Valencia the first day I went out on my own. I ve NEVER felt unsafe in Mexico. Funny huh?

      3. I lived in Seville and I hope to move back to Spain. I’ve never been robbed anywhere (I’m from the Southside of Chicago, my mom is from Brooklyn and her father was a cop, I feel like I know all the “tricks” to greatly lessen my chances of ever getting robbed), but I admit that Spanish thieves are sneaky at times. I’m naturally quite distrusting of people, so I’m especially cautious as to criminals, but the stories I’ve heard about people who were robbed in Spain are something else. A friend of my sister’s got her Blackberry stolen on a train in Barcelona, someone took it while she was listening to music and left her headphones, so she apparently didn’t notice right away

      4. Highest murder rate in the world recently changed to Honduras! not that it’s something to celebrate…. but yeah, living here you get to stay updated on the latest stats. Ciudad Juarez is now number 2 according to this article: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/10/15/mexicos-ciudad-juarez-is-no-longer-the-most-violent-city-in-the-world/.

        I didn’t get the sarcasm the first time I read it as a *lot* of people think that the entire (huge) country of Mexico is all murders and violence, and it’s a shame. I guess I hear it said so often in seriousness I didn’t pick up on the sarcasm?

        anyway, if anyone wants tips on traveling to Mexico (even as a first timer), I’m happy to advise. when I was learning spanish here I met a bizarre amount of quite young (early 20’s) and older people (60+) who were here on their first trip ever out of the US.

        I don’t hate you. 🙂 I like reading your stuff, it reminds me of being 24 (I’m 33 now) and traveling around. I like the way you live your life and think you set a good example for other young travelers – by the time I got to the end of your post I was more shocked by your student loan debt amount than the mexico comment. 🙂

      5. I’m sure that would bother me too, I hate it when people say things like “Egypt is dangerous” when it’s not really, especially if you have to go around defending. I know people in San Pancho who love it there, and I’m sure most tourists and travelers aren’t going to be going to the places with the most problems, even within those cities they probably will avoid the areas known for having problems.

        Having said that, Mexico isn’t entirely innocent, 11 of the top 50 cities with highest murder rates in the entire world are in Mexico, that’s huge, no matter how big the country is, and it can’t be ignored. Juarez might not be number 1 but they are still number 2, and I even though I am a very seasoned traveler, I would really think hard about going there and take a lot of precautions if I did. I’m all about breaking down stereotypes but the stats don’t lie and there’s a also a big difference between crimes like theft and harassment and murder and violence. It’s a toughie, no doubt about it, but I would never tell someone DON’T go to Mexico. I’m just really sarcastic when I write, I hope most of my readers know that about me and take it with a grain of salt.

        Do you have a blog? I would love to hear more about your experiences in Mexico!

      6. I have a blog I haven’t updated in years that mostly pertains to living in Amsterdam, but I’m going to be the country curator for Mexico – I start on Sunday. I think here and there about starting a blog again because I find that most mexico blogs are too “everything is great la la la sun beaches people beer food food food food food beauty nature” (ok, the food part is absolutey amazing). and sure, that’s part of Mexico. but just like all the violent stuff, it’s not all there is. I do love the way Angelynia writes about Mexico and other parts of Latin America, I’d recommend her blog to anyone that wants to quit their job and travel around this part of the world.

      7. I travel to Mexico at least once a year for vacation. (And not to the homogenized touristy areas like Cancun that Americans like to travel to so they can say they are worldly) Mexico City and Tijuana are 2 of my all-time favorite destinations. I’m not a bruiser either, just a slightly built whitey-white-boy. I have never had a problem in Mexico…..EVER. Over 50 thousand people have been murdered in Mexico in the last 10 years. 80 percent of these murders have been drug-related. What lesson should the prospective Mexico traveler take from this fact? Perhaps…..don’t do drugs in Mexico? Don’t buy drugs in Mexico?……..it’s seems to have worked for me.

        For those people that need this kind of advice told to them to stay safe, here is another useful piece of advice that has worked wonders for me:

        While walking alone at night through the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, I always refrain from shouting the “N-word” at the top of my lungs.

  2. We are 100000% on the same wavelength about everything. Even the few dollars short of 6 figures of student loans. I have a heart thing that makes me faint instead of a food allergy, but you get the point. And there is nothing that irks me more than people who always whine about not being able to travel and tend to always make snide or passive-agressive comments about how I’ve traveled a lot, and yet have never made a real effort to travel when they drop hundreds of dollars a month on their paycheck and just bought a new car. This is especially irritating after going to places like Ghana this summer, where some of the friends I made there are dying to travel but either don’t have the financial means, or were denied tourist visas, because so many countries (like the USA) deny them to pretty much anyone who’s not an EU/USA/UK citizen.

    The worst excuse (actually not funny at all, and it wasn’t even really an excuse) that I’ve gotten is, when a roommate a few years ago told me flat out, “I really have no interest or don’t really care about other countries. I’ll just go to Epcot.”. Alllllllrighty then…..

  3. I love this post, and so many of them are true. When we made the decision to leave, we were both turning away from big career moves and a city we loved living in – but we both knew that travelling would be worth every second of that hard decision we had to make. Sure we had to work hard, save and then give up jobs we adored… but the grass is just as green once you’re travelling, just in a very different way.

    I would’ve hated it if I had not gone travelling – because I can’t imagine myself ever having a bigger regret. And I guess there is no better time than right now. xx

    1. How about Excuse #10: I only speak English…I imagine this would limit where you could go, or at the least spoil the authenticity of your adventures since you’d be restricted to typical tourist destinations where they’re accustomed to an English-only crowd.

      By the way, I leave for Mexico this Saturday (one of the two places you warned against-though I have been to detroit and it was okay).

      p.s. I spent ages 19-22 on the road in the US (some of that time I was “stable” i.e. crashing in a pad with crazy people in San Francisco for a few months or camping in a tree field when landscaping in rural Pennsylvania). Sometimes I do regret traveling. I was very young and vulnerable, but very confident and determined-this can be a receipt for compromising situations. Don’t get me wrong, I had some amazing moments and I’m glad I got to experience living an alternative lifestyle like my beat heroes but it was also a strange way to begin my adult years. I don’t think I’ve really adapted to a “normal” adult life because of it. And not to say that is an entirely bad thing either, but as I approach age 30 I have to wonder…

      1. Well, I am also very adventurous. I always inspire my friends to roam around the world to live tehe Life as they want. Thanx for this information. Loved it!

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