A lot of people have asked me how I have managed to travel as much as I have. They have dreams of backpacking across Europe, sailing the Mediterranean, or drinking Guinness in a pub in Ireland. My response always is — you should do it.
Often I am countered with “how?” or “I can’t afford it”. People are usually too worried to leave their comfort zone for wild adventures abroad. So here are my answers to how you, regardless of your current situation, can travel and adventure the way you want to.
1. “How do you afford it?”
I’m luck enough now to have a job that affords me the luxury of travel. However, this was not always the case. My first travel experience abroad was my month long backpacking trip through Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. This was back when I had the budget of a substitute teacher. You may be under the impression that subs make decent money… you’re wrong. But that was OKAY. I used Kayak to get cheap airfare. I stayed in hostels rather than hotels. I ate local food often from food carts. By traveling this way I managed to spend an entire month in Southeast Asia for $2000.
I understand that most of us don’t just have that money in our wallet just ready to spend. But anyone that has relative sense and a basic strategy can budget that money. Think about how often you buy lunch. Think of how many drinks you buy when you go out, and how many ‘things’ you buy on any given month. A cutback on these things can save you hundreds of dollars a week. By saving only $100 a week you’re just 5 months away from a month long life changing experience.
2. “How do you take the time off of work?”
People frequently tell me that they cannot afford to take the time away from work to travel. Well, in short, yes you can. Worse case scenario: There is always another job that you can take when you return. But chances are if you are honest with your employer and tell them that travel is a priority, they will let you go and come back to your job when you return.
Luckily for me, I was interviewing for jobs when I was also planning that same trip to SE Asia. I told my future employer right there in my first interview that I was going to travel for the entire month of June. They asked what for and when I told them about my travel plans they were as excited for my trip as I was. I’m willing to bet that my desire to travel made my resume stand out. My adventures may have actually been a factor in me landing my job.
Another benefit of traveling is that it’s a life experience that looks good on a resume. These expeditions will even make you a better person. But that is a blog post for another time.
3. “Do you travel alone? Does it get lonely?”
I have been fortunate in my travels in that whenever I get an idea to go somewhere I have friends that want to come along. But even when I travel solo, I always find myself among friends.
Two benefits of being alone in a country: you have complete freedom of your actions, and it’s easy to make friends. Just get to where you are going and book a bed at a hostel. People traveling are all in the same boat. Everyone wants to have a great experience and everyone wants to meet great people. I’ve found the hardest part while traveling isn’t making friends, it’s leaving those friends behind.
My female friends sometimes say that they worry for their safety if they were to travel alone. Obviously, I can’t relate to their fear but I will say that I have met quite a few girls traveling by themselves and they have all been glad they were.
4. “Do you have to speak the language?”
If you speak English, you’ll be just fine. Most places I have been have had people that understand English well enough to get around. That said, not all communication has to be verbal. At rest stop in inner rural Vietnam, I ordered lunch by using chicken noises and pointing. The language barrier does exist while traveling but it’s only a minor inconvenience.
While you do not need to speak the language, I find it is important to learn a few phrases/words before I go. I always learn:
- “Thank you.”
- “Where is ____?”
Learn say these six things in any language and you’ll be set in most of your endeavors.