What is the secret to traveling long term? How do I travel so often? Am I rich? Do I have a trust fund? Are all my trips paid for by someone else?
What is my secret sauce?
On my first trip to Thailand, I met five backpackers who changed my life. I had a vague sense of what a “backpacker” was from popular culture. They were people who barely showered, stayed in cramped hostels, ate pasta, and partied a lot. It was a something for college kids or those without a real future to do.
Yet meeting them convinced me they had unlocked secret to travel I didn’t know existed. I grew up with hotels, tours, and theme parks. The more they told me about their lifestyle – meeting people around the world, living in bungalows on the beach, eating delicious and cheap food, taking local transportation, and just having fun, the more envious I become. They weren’t tied down to an office job or rules. They were living life while I was just on a temporary break from prison.
Before I met them, I assumed you needed to be rich to travel. But here were people that were living proof that everything I knew about travel was wrong.
While money does help, they simply had found something I didn’t:
While I wanted to travel, their desire was strong enough to make it happen.
They just did it.
After my first trip to Costa Rica in 2004, I was bitten by the travel bug and have been traveling ever since.
Following my encounter with them, I came home and made my trip happen. My made my life about travel. I cut my expenses, found cheap flights, and did everything I could to pursue my goal of travel.
Traveling is what’s important to me, so I find a way to make it happen.
I skip the Starbucks, don’t shop that often, and don’t eat out a lot. I cut corners elsewhere so I can have the time and money to do what I love: travel.
I fake plan dozens of trips every day. If I have unplanned time in my calendar, I think “hmmm, where can I go that week? Let’s figure out how to get there.”
I often hear from people that traveling is out of their reach, that they don’t have the money or the time. They have just too much responsibility. And while there are certain constraints on traveling that time and money create, people do what they want. When you truly want something, you go after it. If you truly wanted to travel, you would. You wouldn’t make excuses; you would just find a way. Excuses are simply a convenient way for people to ignore their own fears.
I travel so often for the same reason my friend always seems to be at a Patriots game, or my other friend has a new pair of shoes, and another always seems to be hiking. That’s what we love and we actively work to realize those goals. You want to get that new iPhone? You’ll make it happen.
We always want to make our desires come true.
I choose to work towards making my travel desire a reality.
There are a lot of unknowns in long term traveling and a lot of people aren’t ready to deal with that. However, even if you’ll never spend a year traveling around the world or dedicate your life to vagabonding, that doesn’t mean travel will be out of your reach.
Travel is a wonderful thing. Life is short and I don’t think we were ever meant to spend it droning away in cubicles. Travel can show you all the beauty in the world — from chaotic markets in Asia and majestic cities in Europe to dense jungles and exotic wildlife in Central America. Everywhere you go, every day something new happens. New people, new places, and new experiences.
People like to think that travel costs a lot of money or that you just can’t make it happen. My only hope is that by reading this blog, you realize that you can. I’m not rich, but I budget well and I find good travel deals. I work hard so that I can play hard. With a little flexibility and a little price scouting, you can get anywhere on any budget. People are always amazed when they see how cheap it can be and how little effort it really takes.
Once you have the desire and motivation to go, nothing can stop you.
Want some more inspiration? Check out these must-read posts:
- How to Travel Anywhere in the World (From Start to Finish) For $1,000
- How to Travel Cheap: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling When You Have No Money
- How to Save For Any Trip
- How to Find Work Overseas
Note: This article was originally published in 2008.