Like everyone else, I was also worried about financing my travels when I left home. What if, what about, how about and but are some of the words frequently bombing my head every night. If you have been following my adventures, you’d know that I didn’t have a choice when I first started traveling South America. After an ugly break-up while traveling with my ex, I told myself that I will continue seeing the world on my own even if I didn’t have any idea how the hell will I fund this vice. Believe it or not, I arrived Brasil with only $80 in my pocket.
Majority of the people who e-mail me everyday have the same fear — money. I am sure you’re one of them too. But worry not: it’s normal. It’s because you don’t know what’s waiting for you on the other side of the world. The cost of living in every country in the world is different. You can research about this but believe me, when you come out here, you’ll still get confused with the things you found on the internet. Things always change. For example, in Argentina, the value of dollar changes everyday so there will never be a reliable article about the dollar situation in this country.
So you have to come here and see it for yourself.
Money is evil and it’s controlling our lives. The funny part is, we let it. South America was the first continent and the greatest travel experience I ever had because I learned that traveling is not about the money. It’s about the drive, the passion and the enthusiasm. I know someone who’s been saving to travel the world. He saved a lot of money, to be honest. It took him years to be able to come up with the amount but when the time came, he didn’t have the energy to travel anymore. What happened to the money? Down the drain to pay for rent, buy a car and food.
I can never change the way you incorporate money with travel but I can try. Here are some important points to understand that money isn’t the point when it comes to traveling.
Goals and Sacrifices
Before you strike out, answer this question: Are you really willing to leave your comfortable life to travel the world? If you said yes, how sure are you? Most of the people I know tell me they want to travel but they’re scared of a lot of things: giving up their job, mainly. You have to understand that once you do this, there is no turning back. Why do you want to travel the world anyway? Once you have a clear vision, that’s where the sacrifices come in. Major life changes always pass this phase. What are your goals? Where do you want to go? What do you want to achieve from this experience? What are your long-term plans? It might be too overwhelming but you have to think about all these. You have to be 100% sure with your decision and stand by it when the time comes. The following practices will help:
Create a list of clear expectations. And be realistic about it. Do you want to gain new life experiences? Meet people from different walks of life? Live a different lifestyle? Learn a language? Whatever it is, take it down. Do not limit yourself. There are no right and wrong expectations but you have to understand that there’s no guarantee that everything you’ve listed down will happen in a flash. Some will, some won’t — because that’s how life rolls.
Make a list of the things you’ll be willing to live without. Living a nomadic lifestyle will make your sacrifice a lot of things — lifestyle stability, seeing your family every weekend, having a steady income, pet ownership, living in a backpack with a few pair of jeans, etc.
I studied fashion for college but here I am, doing a social media management work to be able to keep myself on the road. Like my friends and family, I also questioned why I am doing this job when in fact, I can land on a very good fashion job in Europe. This is the problem for people who finished school — they often think they’re putting their life to waste if they don’t pursue a career on the field they studied. WRONG. I’ve been a bartender, hotel receptionist, waitress, cook, etc just to continue paving the life of travel — and I didn’t feel less nor did I pitied myself for doing such things.
If you want to be a digital nomad, you will never get the chance to practice your professional career (unless you are an artist). Let’s talk skills: what is something you’re really good at? Something you think can fit the working-from-anywhere-situation? To assist you further, I’ve listed 8 must-have job skills if you want to pursue a nomadic life. Click here to see the list and I hope you’ll find something that suits you.
FUN FACT: I only found an online job when I was already traveling.
If you’re a person who take s*it from every person around you, you will never board that plane. It’s good to ask your friends and family for a second opinion but always remember, the final say has to be from you. Not many people understand this kind of lifestyle but I know you do (even you are blinded with a lot of things). The only approval you need is from yourself. Spending some time alone will be a good practice. For example, start eating in restaurants, going to bars randomly in the middle of the night, watching a movie — and you should do all these by yourself. This will help you think and reflect further. Plus, you’d be traveling alone anyway. Why not practice early?
If you really have troubles doing things by yourself (which I find really impossible), surround yourself with people who share the same passion. Whenever I feel discouraged about traveling (FYI, I almost booked a ticket to go home last year!), I attend Couchsurfing meet ups to gain insights which help clear my mind. Join travel groups in your city. Attend the meetings often. People who have the same train of thought will help a lot. Their experiences are valuable!
When I started traveling, my relationship with my family became stronger. I was supported all the way. However, I lost touch with my best friends because we don’t think alike. Most of my friends don’t understand what I am doing yet, even if it’s been two years since I left home. They were even questioning my Couchsurfing meeting daily attendance and the sudden change of Tuesday drinking group. Though it doesn’t necessarily mean they will send you the “Friendship Over (FO)” message, surely, your group of friends will change. I made a lot of friends when I traveled and it’s surprising how whenever I find an article about girlfriends on Facebook, the instinct is to tag the friends I met on the road instead of my old friends. Life is so surprising sometimes!
Make the leap. All these are possible if you get up and do something about it. All the good things will happen once you start. But if you stay there, sitting still, your life will be the same. The “right time” is a state of mind. It doesn’t exist. You can have $10,000 today but you will never know if you are ready to sacrifice and to leave things behind.