Do you dream of traveling the world? Do you want to explore ancient ruins like Angkor in Cambodia or Tikal in Guatemala? Does your mouth water at the idea of sampling amazing cuisine in France? Do you fantasize about relaxing on white sand beaches in Bali or Belize?
So many people want to travel, yet so few actually do. They fear the cost, thinking they can’t possibly afford to quit their job and go jaunting around the world. They worry it will negatively impact their career or that they’ll will have trouble finding a job when they return.
While those are all legitimate obstacles to overcome, they are just that – obstacles. If you keep waiting for the perfect time, you’ll be waiting forever. It’s time to just tell yourself, “Now is the best time to travel.” Let us help show you how.
Why now is the time to travel
While thing are better now than just a few years ago, the US economy, and much of the industrialized world, are still going through financial trouble. This may have you thinking now is the worst time to travel. You might even be hunkered down trying to keep your job or even be searching for one. Traveling now might seem completely out of the question, but all of this makes now the perfect time to travel.
If you keep waiting for the perfect time, you’ll be waiting forever.
Instead of working long hours at the office trying to impress your boss to avoid being laid off or spending your entire day focused on competing for nonexistent jobs, you could be traveling. The cost of living in other parts of the world like Asia and Latin America are a fraction of what you pay in the US. My rent in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for example, is roughly $300 a month, including weekly cleaning and wifi (and that is considered somewhat expensive in Chiang Mai). Chances are that you can live and travel abroad for far less than you are spending just living at home.
If you have a job, talk to your employer about taking a sabbatical. Many just assume that this is a long shot, but employers might be happy to save some money while you’re away (in lieu of laying you off), and they’ll have a job for you when you return. Even better is to see if you can switch to telecommuting, perhaps even part time (if you plan it right, you won’t need as much money while you are traveling, and it let’s your employer save a little money). The worst that can happen is they say no. You are no worse off, so it doesn’t hurt to explore these options.
If you don’t have a job already, now is the time to downsize and start traveling. Don’t worry about having a gap in your resume. It’s much easier to explain a travel gap than an I’ve-been-unemployed-for-six-months gap. There are so many things you experience while traveling that look great on a resume.You can do things like volunteer, write, and freelance while you travel–all things you can add to your resume. Don’t look at that gap as a negative; spin it into something positive.
You can afford to travel
You’re probably thinking this whole traveling the world things sounds great, but you can’t afford it. It’s time to dispel the myth that traveling is only for the rich or those with trust funds. Traveling is less expensive than you might think. You’re probably comparing the costs to your last vacation or what you read in a glossy travel magazine.
But that’s not what long term travel is about. It can be far less expensive by staying in less expensive places. You can also offset costs by doing things like house-sitting or volunteering. You can travel slowly and rent apartments for a fraction of the cost than your rent or mortgage at home. You can eat the local cuisine for far less money in places like Southeast Asia. Or you can grocery shop and cook your own meals. Take buses and trains instead of flights.
Hostels are inexpensive and a great place to meet other travelers. Some hostels are just as nice as hotels and have even better amenities. Many offer private rooms with en suite bathrooms. The big plus is you meet other travelers, gaining great tips and insights into the local culture that you otherwise might miss. You’ll find out about the hidden gem of a restaurant or food stall that has local food to die for at a great price, often just a few dollars.
To prepare yourself and to start saving, practice living minimally for several months before you leave. Because you’ll be traveling for a longer period of time, this is the perfect time to pare down. Make some extra cash by selling your extra stuff on eBay or Craig’s List. This will probably give you enough money to buy a ticket to your destination and maybe even afford a few months of travel, depending on what you have to sell.
Eliminate as many expenses as possible now to start saving money. Cancel your cable TV. End magazine subscriptions and cut back on buying clothes and other non-essential things. Stop going out to dinner and the bars. Sell your car if you have one and cancel the insurance. Reducing as many expenses as you possibly can before you go will save money and help you acclimate to the traveler lifestyle.
It’s different for everyone and is dependent on many factorss, but many long-term travelers can travel on as little as $25-40USD/day, which comes out to about $750-1200/month (less than many people’s rent and/or mortgage at home) . While you travel you can look at ways to make some extra cash on the road. There are plenty of working opportunities for long-term travelers.
A lot of travelers try their hands at freelancing to make a little extra money. Check out sites like Elance, FreelanceSwitch and others (do a Google search on freelancing). Many people start a travel blog or write for other travel sites. This is a crowded field, but it doesn’t hurt to try (just make sure you start long before you leave, and don’t count on this for extra funds). There are several sites that pay for articles. Do some exploring around the web and some creative thinking about options to find out ways you can earn a little extra money while you travel. You never know, you might actually find out that you prefer this sort of work over the traditional job.
There is, of course, the option of teaching English. Many schools require you to have some sort of education, such as a Bachelor degree, and a teaching certificate from TEFL or other recognized program. Some of these programs pay as much as $2,000 month and include a place to live. Teaching is a great option if you are interested in engaging people.
Get started on your adventure today
You read this all the time, but I promise you it’s true–traveling will change your life. I’ve learned more about a place in a couple weeks of visiting than I’ve learned in years of reading about it. You are exposed to some new and interesting things that really broaden your view of the world. Remember, it’s temporary if you want it to be. You can always come back sooner if you want. Though you’ll probably end up traveling longer than you ever imagined.
Check out the following resources offered by BootsnAll to help you plan your trip:
- Become a BootsnAll member
- Sign up for Plan Your RTW Trip in 30 Days
- Fill out a traveler profile
- Plan, price and book multi-stop flights on Indie
- Download the Around the World Airfare Report
- Check out the BootsnAll International Phone App
- Sign up for one of our newsetters
Photo credits: skippyjon, Adam Seper