Travel is for everyone, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be beneficial. Think about all the college kids backpacking through Europe and Asia right now. How many of them have real money to speak of? Not very many.
Think About the Basics
What long-term travelers possess that other people do not is a real desire to “see” the world. They’re willing to forgo some of the luxuries other people expect on vacation for a chance to truly experience the area they have traveled to. They make adjustments along the way.
Get a Passport and a Backpack
Musician Henry Rollins makes this suggestion:
“I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown. Eat interesting food. Dig some interesting people. Have an adventure. Be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your country differently, you’re going to see your president differently, no matter who it is. Music, culture, food, water. Your showers will become shorter. You’re going to get a sense of what globalization looks like. It’s not what Tom Friedman writes about; I’m sorry. You’re going to see that global climate change is very real. And that for some people, their day consists of walking 12 miles for four buckets of water. And so there are lessons that you can’t get out of a book that are waiting for you at the other end of that flight. A lot of people—Americans and Europeans—come back and go, ohhhhh. And the light bulb goes on.”
Tips for Becoming a Better Traveler
If the idea is to travel long and travel far, you’re in luck. The following five suggestions will help you do just that:
- Become a “travel hacker.” Follow travel hacking geniuses, Chris Guillebeau and Nomadic Matt, for inspiration. They show you how to score free plane tickets and free hotel accommodations by racking up frequent flier miles and credit card rewards.
- Give up the notion of luxury accommodations. If you’re willing to do a little research, you can have the time of your life, sleep in a comfortable bed, and create memories that last a lifetime. Sleep on a sailboat, in an Airstream or a converted railroad car turned quaint bed and breakfast. AirBnB offers quaint and quirky accommodations to meet your needs. Best of all, you can search by location, price, and property type.
- Protect your physical and mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that you be “Proactive, Prepared, and Protected when it comes to your health.” If you don’t feel well physically or mentally, your journey will stop before it even gets started.
- Be creative about what you eat. Attend events where free food is offered. Eat from street vendors. Get to know the local markets. Picnic outdoors. There are a number of foods that can be prepared and enjoyed without a kitchen.
- Collect memories, not things. Carry a journal. Collect “free souvenirs” in the form of drink coasters, menus in other languages, flyers, stickers, postage stamps. Draw what you see. Record conversations that you overhear. Dig deep and excavate all the goodness that you find while traveling. You’ll be all the richer having the experiences that you’ve had.
The more money you have access to, the longer you can travel. Conserve one of your most valuable resources by getting creative about your spending. Explore your options and decide what’s important to you. If a luxury vacation is what you’re looking forward to, you won’t mind spending extra for amenities. If experience is what you’re aiming to gain, it pays to think outside the box. The money that you save on lodging, food, and entertainment can buy you more time doing what you love, traveling freely and creating memories along the way.
Suitcase Photo Courtesy of PhasinPhoto
Passport Photo Courtesy of PapaIja2008