Possibly the biggest question I receive from friends, family and acquaintances is how I am able to travel.
First and foremost, if you dream about traveling and you want to travel, you just have to do it.
I did not grow up in a wealthy family but my first international trip was back in college in which I wanted to go overseas, While back then, I had family who worked for a major American airline company, I was to get standby tickets to travel (these are not free but you pay several hundred for round trip tickets).
It was during weekend break for college and I took out a $750 loan and had a year to pay it off. This would get me what I need for food and spending money but things didn’t necessarily go well as there was a major storm in the East Coast. All flights were routed to San Francisco and with three days wasted of waiting for flight openings, the only way was to travel to Taiwan and then to Japan.
While I was able to go to Japan, my flight back to the US via a standby ticket, I had to wait until their were seats left and by the final flight, I was able to get back home.
Suffice to say, it was the first and last time I would use standby tickets but as a college student with not much money, it gave me my first taste of traveling overseas. And it ignited my passion for traveling.
But the goal is to make a plan for a trip and commit to it. Save up and whatever you do, do not let self doubt get to you.
One of the biggest issues that I had was waiting. Waiting until these bills were paid off, waiting for more cash flow or waiting for the right moment in time to go on a trip.
Unfortunately, this belief crippled me.
For one, bills are always going to be there and there are always going to be bills. You can have money saved up and then a tire blows out, your engine conks out, your clients don’t pay you in time, your job lays you off, you owe money for this or that, your family member gets injured and needs money and many more….suffice to say, there are unfortunate things in life that can happen and it really can curtail things.
While I do believe in fiscal responsibility, I do recommend paying off debt and removing that monkey off your back but don’t be that person who say they are going to travel and 25-years-later, still has not traveled and realizes, “I wish I traveled when I was younger” or “I wish I traveled” and regrets it.
I believe one should find a fine balance of being fiscally responsible but also keeping oneself happy.
Also, don’t let fears of traveling get the best of you. Chances of crashing on a flight is much slimmer than getting in an accident in a car. I worry more driving in Los Angeles traffic than flying.
But if you want to travel, just do it. And also be smart about it.
Do your research on sites like JetRadar and SkyScanner. But I do caution that if flights are unrealistically low by an unknown company, chances are it’s not always a trustworthy company. There are horror sites of those who went for cheaper prices and then a week before their trip, finding out the flight was canceled or never booked. Personally, for your own peace in mind, budget according to what you see on Expedia, Orbitz or Priceline or go with a reputable flight agency.
Also, do your research on hotels. I no longer stay in fancy hotels, I book a hotel that has good ratings but also is affordable. I would rather book a hotel that can afford me several weeks extra of vacation, versus one week and staying and spending a lot of money on an expensive hotel.
Some people have their own opinions about this but for me, I tend to like staying 10-12 days minimum in a country.
Also, there is also Airbnb, which many of my friends love. Which is the ability to stay at the home of a homeowner or family, who rents out a room for days. And it’s a much bigger savings versus a hotel most of the time. I personally have not tried it yet, as I try to avoid any hassle of cancellation or losing out in a hotel room which I wanted.
As mentioned, always do your research. Ask many questions on travel blogs, forums or Facebook pages. There are a lot of people who travel on a low budget and are able to make it happen for them.
But never let self-doubt prevent you from traveling. Saving the money may be the toughest part of traveling, but if you are committed, may it take you weeks, months or years to travel, the fact is that you made the decision to travel and instead of saying that you will one day, you strive to make it happen and eventually make your dreams come true.
Traveling is a fantastic experience to learn about the world around you, discovering other cultures, cuisine and literally opening your eyes and enriching your life.