I’ve heard every excuse in the book not to travel to your dream destination. It’s too expensive, it’s too much planning, last week a version of you came back from the future to warn you that if you go to Spain you’ll set a series of events in motion that will totally erase humanity. These are the common excuses. Everyone uses them.
But these excuses are crazy. First, because the space-time continum doesn’t work that way and second because you can learn to budget. If you really want to travel (not including time-warping wormholes), you can and should take the leap.
Sure, there are a million reasons why it’s a bad idea or not the right time. We all find ways to stop ourselves from doing the things we really want to do. It’s a very human behavior, borne out of fear. You want to see the penguins of Patagonia or the northern lights in Iceland or party on the beaches of Ibiza, and tell yourself there’ll be plenty of time for that later. “Tomorrow maybe… or next month…”
But here’s the thing: If you’re reading this article, if this is the one thing you clicked on during the five minute coffee break, you’re probably ready to see your excuses for what they are and move past them. It’s high time. Because everyone deserves adventure. Everyone deserves to go to the places that spark their imaginations. Everyone deserves to take that dream trip that they’ll remember and talk about for the rest of their lives.
The Excuse: “I don’t have any money.”
I get this, it’s hard. It’s probably the biggest thing that stops most us from taking a big trip. Do we really have the money to go halfway across the world?
Maybe you don’t right this second, but you can. And it’s really pretty simple. With most traveler interviews I’ve done, I’ve asked these nomads how they were able to take that plunge financially. I think every single one has said it’s just a matter of budgeting, saving, and reprioritizing the way you spend money as it comes in.
I wish I had something different or more magical to tell you, like, “You don’t have money? Well, a professional cupcake taster position has finally opened up at Uproxx, and it pays $870,000 dollars a year, and you’d be perfect!” But I’d never tell you that because once that position comes up, I’m going to keep it for myself.
So the deal is figuring out what you’re spending money on (budgeting apps are really helpful for this), and then strategizing on how make smarter decisions. Have to buy a new car? Would you rather have leather seats or walk the Great Wall of China? Yeah, of course you want both. But most people who travel regularly have to sacrifice some of the material things for the intangible experiences.
And, studies have shown that’s a smart choice. Because you’ll get more out of your trip than a bigger TV. A psychology professor from Cornell, Thomas Gilovich, has dedicated his life to tracking what makes people happy. He’s come away with the conclusion that happiness is almost always derived more from experiences, like trips, than things. Trips, he’s found, create a larger part of our identity, cause us to connect more socially, and give people a better sense of self worth.
Okay, okay. I can figure out how to save a little money. But trips are sooooo expensive.
They don’t have to be! Watch sites that track discount fares like the ones we’ve listed here. And there are so many hostels or cheaper hotels that people love because they’re clean and comfortable (even if they don’t have all the bells and whistles). You can also Airbnb so that you can buy groceries and not eat out every meal.
Even trips that sound like they’d be expensive may have one big cost, airfare to Thailand maybe, but when you get there, you can figure out how to do it on a dime. And worst case scenario: you run out of money in Russia, become a drug mule and get sent to a foreign prison for the rest of your life. Then you get three meals a day, while visiting a new country. FREE.
And besides, I can’t take that much time away from work.
Take your vacation time. Seriously. Productivity actually increases when we work a little less. Various studies have been done that show people are more effective when they have a reasonable amount of time away from their jobs. It’s why companies like Netflix have done away with set vacation time altogether. Instead, telling employees that they can take as many weeks of paid vacation time off as they want as long as their work is getting done. And while that sounds terrifying, it shouldn’t be. People know they need to work, and make a living. And doing so at a company that respects their time and values them, usually causes them to be more loyal and actually work harder.
A study from Carlton university in Canada found that people were working an average of 9.5 hours a week at home after hours. Half of that time was spent answering emails, and when people were asked later the priority of those emails, it was usually very low to moderate. These weren’t because they were having crazy work emergencies, but because it’s expected that we’re always in touch, that emails are always answered promptly. We just don’t have the excuse of “not seeing” an email until the next day, and it’s changed everything. Now, it’s more important than ever that we allow ourselves to decompress for that.
Leaving the work behind for a trip, truly being “off” resets us, and allows us to tap into a kind of relaxation and self-focus that is becoming increasingly rare. If you truly have a job where you can’t go on vacation ever, where you think they would find a way to fire you or not promote you if you used all of your vacation days, I think you should seriously question whether or not the company you work for is a good fit. Life’s too short for that shit.
Plus, I really want to travel with someone. But my only significant relationship right now is with my cats.
People are scared of solo travel because they worry it’s more dangerous, or it will be lonely, or people will think it’s weird. But if you’re in a place where you don’t have people in your life to travel with, the best way to meet someone, is to go travel. Meet other adventurers. You might even fall in love.
It may feel scary at first or awkward, but if you go do the things you enjoy, you’ll find other people who enjoy them too. One great way to do this, if you’re nervous, is to pick a specific trip or adventure. Rather than just going to Australia, lock in a diving expedition at the Great Barrier Reef. Or try to learn a skill you’ve always wanted to pick up in a cool location, like a coding camp or volunteer to work at an elephant sanctuary for a few weeks. It’s an easy way to be around other people you might gel with while also experiencing a new culture.
With good research, solo traveling can be quite safe. Check out our basic rules here for solo travel. And then plan your trip! We recently put together the most incredible places to go solo this year.
But what about my cats! What do I do with them?
Pets can really tie you down. It may sound silly to non-pet owners, but every time I go out of town, the problem of what to do with my 105 pound dog and very social cat is a real source of stress. Even so, you can have awesome pets and still leave town every once in a while. Even if a pet sitter is out of your price range.
You can trade services with a friend. You have a pet you don’t want to pay to board, they have a pet they don’t want to board the next time they go on vacation, it’s a match made in heaven. Another way to get around paying a pet sitter is to let someone stay in your place. Then, they’ll pay YOU to take care of your pet. I’ve done this in two ways. First, I’ve sublet an apartment from a woman who was going to be traveling for two months and had two cats. I was new to the city and so it was the perfect situation for me. I could explore before committing to a neighborhood. And in exchange for taking care of the cats while I was there, she charged about half what she normally would. It was a win-win. And second, we’ve airbnb-ed our place with our cat, and found a person who needed a place for their vacation for the week. She was excited to be charged half the price in exchange for watching our cat. And it worked out well. She had lots of good reviews and sent us pics of her with her cat at home so we felt fairly comfortable that she was legit and would take care of him well.
It can be a little stressful to think of leaving your pets with someone else, but you’re taking a risk at a boarding facility/pet sitter from a site too. Both of which I’ve had some terrible experiences with. And even then, it was ultimately fine.
Yeah, but I’ll have more money, more time, a partner, and less cats next summer. I’ll do it then!
I am the queen of putting off travel until “I can afford it.” Which I assume will be when my windfall of cash comes in from an unknown source. Maybe it’ll be a millionaire who indecently proposals me, or maybe my dog will become an indie film star who transitions to being a key player in the Marvel Universe, I don’t know. I’m not psychic. I just have this strong suspicion that in the next year, I’ll be more financially secure. Which is what I said last year. And the year before that. And probably the year before that. I’ve been convinced that things were finally lookin’ up for ole Sanchez for a while here. But why put off living an adventurous life on maybes?
Because maybe you will still do something that makes you wildly rich (and you can send some my way?). Or maybe you won’t. But either way, won’t you be happier traveling right now? If you do fall into tons of cash, will you regret having done that awesome trip while you were broke? Nah, you’ll remember the incredible vacation and be glad you did it. Why wait to make good memories?
At the end of the day, I’m an adult now. I should’ve done my backpacking around Europe in college, but now, it’s too late to have that kind of adventure. It’s time to be responsible.
What does responsible even mean, anyway? Maybe it means a 401K and 2 cars or maybe it means a responsible world citizen who learns about other cultures, makes connections, and consumes less material things. I could make a pretty solid case for the latter.
It all comes down to this, if you want this, if you want to go on your dream trip, you can make it happen by this summer. And you should do it now, not down the road, not when things are better. Life has no guarantees except that eventually it will end. In the meantime, we ought to enjoy it.
So…this is it. This should be the summer to go on your dream trip. You’ve got this. There’s really only one question left: Where to?