There have been a few posts on FB recently reflecting opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to travel. One was along the lines of “Quit Asking Me How I Afford To Travel” and the other was “Why Giving Up Everything To Travel Is The Worst Advice Ever” – something like that. I skimmed both of these “newsworthy” pieces in hopes of finding something that spoke to me, but neither did.
The truth is, I think life can be all about travel if that’s what you want. And affording it is the same way many people don’t have healthcare but spend $4-10 on their daily coffee. It’s all choice, sacrifice and savings.
Matt and I are fortunate that we can travel, but we have made many decisions along the way to grant us this luxury. After 14 years working in the same industry, he decided to resign. I fully support this decision because he was unhappy and burnt out; taking time off work has allowed him to reconnect with both myself and Samara, as well as making him a generally happier person. Because of his hard work over a long period of time, he has been able to live off his holiday payout (because we get 4 weeks paid vacation every year here in Australia) as well as something called “long service leave” (you work 10+ years and you accrue extra holiday time; we used 10 weeks of it in the Caribbean last year but it’s prorated so he got another few weeks from his additional 4 years). This means that even though I’m hardly the major bread winner of the household, we are living like we normally do without sacrificing our trivia nights or a 6 pack of beer.
He has also been forgiving and supportive of me this past year while I’ve tried to figure out what it is I want to do. I have been back at Ignite for over a year again, albeit in a wide range of roles, and I’m uncertain of my future come October. I earn enough to scrape by, but understand that I need to carry more of my own weight in the future. (Having said that, I did win $7K in a game show, which has helped!)
Perhaps spending a few thousand dollars to hike around an unknown land may seem frivolous to some, but let’s not forget that we have no mortgage tying us down. We aren’t knee deep in bathroom renovations or a new kitchen; we can go away and know our property will be maintained by the building managers. We have traded one of life’s big commodities to pursue something essential to us both: travel. We met travelling; we feel free when we’re on the road together, exploring and discovering; we want to make those memories that last a lifetime. Others may deem it selfish: we have a beautiful daughter and dog who we are leaving behind to pursue our own destinies, while others praise the decision with the common catchphrase “you only live once”. We struggle with the decision to be away, but feel that not only are we better people and parents for it, it teaches Samara the importance of multi-culturalism and not being afraid to break out of one’s comfort zone.
And sadly it does have to do with life being too short. Every news program highlights a story of cancer striking down a healthy young man or woman or an unnecessary homicide due to domestic abuse. There are attacks around the world on foreigners and locals alike, and too often I am reminded of those from my past who are only around in spirit, gone because of a freak windstorm, a blind curve or icy roads. No one knows why or when or how.
So it comes down to choice. If your priorities are buying a new car and a house, I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, because we might be 80 and struggling to pay rent, kicking ourselves for not buying when the time was ripe. But our choice is to go and do. If something happens to us, we aren’t burdening our friends or relatives with debts or settlements or hassle; the biggest pain will be sifting through all of our digital photos for the party at the end.
Take the advice that speaks to you. Make your choices based on your heart (and your wallet), but most importantly: have fun doing it.
Much love and many hugs,