I’ve spent the larger part of my 20s dedicated to the goal of travel, and I’ve been blessed with some awesome life experiences in the process. Who knew that I would actually one day be living in Australia, writing for an online Oz travel guide for BootsnAll? Who could have imagined that I would have spent a good year of my life traipsing around the countries of the former Soviet Union? If I think about it, it almost doesn’t seem real; I can’t imagine what that must sound like to people who have never considered pursuing travel in the same way.
Many people think they can’t live a life like this. Why not? If I can figure out a way to change my habits enough to pursue the travel life of my dreams, then I’m sure anyone can. I don’t have parents with heaps of money, and I’ve never had flashy jobs that pay me more than I can handle. The key has always been frugality.
With frugality – in both day-to-day and travel choices – I have set myself up to live a life that is full of worldly adventures and, in essence, the life of my dreams.
Frugality in the Day-to-Day
When I returned from my semester abroad in Italy back in 2004, I remember feeling like I had so much “stuff”. I had just lived 3 months of my life with nothing but a suitcase, yet all these “things” were at home, crowding up my room and making me feel heavy. A massive purge was in order, and it was at this time that my frugal life truly began.
I didn’t need these things, and to be honest, they just made me feel further away from the travel scene. How could I possibly hit the road when I had the weight of all my possessions tying me down? However, the idea was more than a mental trap; it was the reality that I would be happier having my money go towards adventures abroad.
It’s about thinking in terms of travel…
I maximize my utility on spending that money by using it for travel.
It’s about making enabling life decisions…
There are a couple of things in life that I can’t fathom ever doing: buying a brand new car and dropping thousands of dollars on a wedding. Geez, if you feel like throwing money away like that, please, at least give some of it to me.
I used costofwedding.com to get the average price range for a wedding back in East Peoria, IL. Apparently, it can start near $14,000… for one day! How? I’m sorry to all the girls that want that extravagant wedding experience, but don’t you think you could put those funds to better use? In my case, I could use it to take my new hubby around the world for at least 6 months, 12 months around Asia! Now that’s a honeymoon.
Frugality with major life decisions can help me continue doing what I love.
It’s about thinking long-term…
Waiting to see the results of being frugal is a challenge that not everyone can handle. Small gains here and there do add up, but it might not be until a year in that you see the full result. My advice is to stick with it and let the knowledge that it will pay off become a normal part of your daily life. For example, smokers who spend $20 a week on cigarettes can see $1040 in savings in a year’s time if they were to kick the habit. That sounds like an awesome plane ticket right there, so imagine what you can do if you give up something else, like one $20 take-out meal a week.
Making smart and frugal plans provides for my travel lifestyle.
Frugality in TravelI’ve seen a good chunk of the world now, but that has been enabled by making wise (frugal) travel choices. First off, I wouldn’t plan on spending any large amount of time in Dubai, for example, unless I were doing some working in the process. For the most part, I’ve spent a lot of time in countries where it is cheaper to travel, and that helps my dollar go further.
It’s about making the most of the path ahead…
I wouldn’t just search for direct flights to Gran Canaria, for example, from the USA or Australia. To make the most of a long journey to an exotic location like this, I would most likely break the trip up into segments. The flight is probably going to include a stopover in Europe, so why not spend a week (or a month) there on your way to the sunny Canary Islands in order to spread the cost of the flight across a longer period of travel?
I try to hold back from overly impulsive decisions. The key word is “try”. There was that time I dramatically changed my local by flying from Ukraine to Australia.
The Moral of the Story
I’ve chosen a lifestyle that promotes my ability to travel. While I don’t partake in a number of daily life splurges, I like to think that I appreciate them more when I do. It’s safe to say that I owe all of my travel successes to my frugality. That’s it; that’s my secret.