As someone who leads a life of travel, I get a lot of messages from people asking for travel advice; but other than that, there are some who would also ask for advice on how they can start a similar lifestyle. Once the discussion gets going, there’s always that inevitable moment wherein they would reply with an: “I wish I can travel and work remotely like you, but… I can’t!” and then they list out the reasons that are keeping them from traveling. (Updated March 30, 2019 / Travel Excuses)
They pour out their doubts and their fears and for sure, I’m happy that you guys confide in me but much like what I always reply with, it helps to acknowledge that most of them are excuses at the very core.
Of course I wholly understand how certain ‘travel excuses’ can be justifiable in one’s case; but most of the time, they are actually invalid. So unless you are banned from every country in the world or plagued by a serious health condition, let me tell you that it is VERY possible for you to lead a life like a do.
Now here are those top common travel excuses that people use and why each should not hold anyone back from traveling the world.
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#1 “I can’t afford a life of travel, it’s too expensive. I don’t have the money, I’m not rich!”
Newsflash: I’m not rich either, yet here I am! I’ve had people saying “You must have earned a lot of money in your job“, “You must be from a rich family; your parents can always back you up” or “You must be getting extra money from someone.”
No, no, and no.
I was 19 when I got my first job out of college (apart from the 3 internships I’ve previously had). It was with an international investment bank and we all know how fresh graduates are treated, that’s why it’s safe to say that I just had about enough money to get me by every month. I also lived apart from my parents at that time since I wanted to try being independent; so of course, what came along with that circumstance was that starting then, I no longer depended on them.
By the time that I was 21—the point where I realized that I was terribly uninspired and that a 9-to-5 job wasn’t what I want from life—I took the necessary steps and preparation in order for me to launch my ‘life of travel’, after which I finally quit my job. It was a bumpy road at first, but I eventually managed to secure a stable income from my freelance jobs online as a digital nomad; that today, I am traveling through various countries and have even picked up the inspiration to start my own online business together with my partner.
After all of what I’ve been through, I definitely don’t consider myself as ‘lucky’ because I believe in this quote: “Lucky is the word lazy people use to describe people who work hard.”
I made this lifestyle happen. I had to make changes and sacrifices to get to where I am today. I had to make do with the little resources that I had in order to make it day by day.
And you can do the same!
We’ve been far too conditioned to think that travel is too expensive and that it is only for the rich, upper-class, lucky, or pension-filled people. But no, it’s not. It’s for average people too and if you can practice some discipline, it can be done.
You need to make some sacrifices.
If a life of travel is what you really want, no matter if you are broke, if you make it your priority, travel is absolutely possible. Surely it won’t be accomplished overnight but with a few changes in your lifestyle, it becomes very achievable in the long run.
For starters, track your spending habits: where is most of your salary going to? Is it from eating in expensive restaurants during lunch break? Is it from your bar hopping spree in the weekends as you drown your worries away? Is it because of your shopping sprees whenever you feel stressed from work? Go and quickly identify these unnecessary expenses and then cut them out. You’ll see for yourself that you can save a LOT of cash when you really separate your wants and needs, and then scratching out the unimportant expenses that you are making on your ‘wants list’.
Change your habits.
Live cheaper as you work towards your goal while making ways to save money in every chance that you get.
Go into a savings routine: for example, save a bit of cash every week. If we put it into numbers, let’s say you save Php 100 (roughly $2) every week of the year and then if you add that same amount weekly (in an incremental way), by the end of the year you have saved about Php 138,000 ($3,000+)!
Watch out for cheaper options: if you focus your travel goals first on cheaper countries, the whole plan itself becomes even more attainable. So keep a lookout for airline discounts too, or opportunities to get accommodation for free (like couchsurfing). Once you do these small but big steps, it becomes easier and easier as you prepare and save up for your travel fund.
In the end, don’t ever let yourself say that you can’t afford to travel because as you can see, you really can. You just have to be smart and in control about how you can work your way to make it happen.
NOTE: In lieu with this, for sure there’s the topic of ‘privilege’. A sample of a concern is: “What if I’m supporting my siblings or parents?” I can understand how difficult of a situation this can be since it’s a common occurrence, for instance, in Asian countries like my hometown, the Philippines. But still and the same, there’s a viable option for you: finding a better job where you can compete and gain a salary that’s not within 3rd world standards — which is what I’ve done and which I’ve achieved. Surely, I know that you can do something similar as I’ve managed to do it so with maddening perseverance. But of course, this post does NOT cater to those who are poverty-stricken because I am rather catering this to people like you who at least have the chance to access the internet — a vast area where you can gain a LOT of opportunities to uplift your life’s situation. This is for the reason that, that fact alone should show you the reality that with that kind of ‘privilege’, you CAN already turn your life around if you dearly will it so..
#2 “I don’t think I can consistently travel after I start to do so; I might run out of money!”
This is why you plan for your travel fund beforehand and if you’re careful like a hawk, I don’t think you’ll spend your money away carelessly. It’s all about budgeting appropriately and again: discipline. (I know fellow travel nomads who have lived under just $10 or Php 500 a week and they are still on the road!)
But okay… let’s say worse comes to worst: you blew up your money, you lost it, or you can’t find another job online. Now don’t panic because there are still a LOT of jobs that you can do overseas! One of which is teaching what you know best: English! You would not believe the demand for English-speaking people; some schools might need a proof of your college degree or a TEFL certificate, but most of the time you can make do with just doing small private classes.
Otherwise, you can also do volunteering! This does not pay, BUT it will give you free accommodation and even food! This will undeniably help a lot since hotel or hostel costs can really eat away your wallet. Now there are volunteering opportunities for charities, but most of the time they come with a fee; fortunately, there are also those who don’t need any fee at all (restaurants, bars, hotels, hostels, etc.). They would just require you to do some small tasks and in exchange, they will be more than glad to take you in and pamper you a bit. (Some websites that will help you look for these jobs are www.workaway.info, www.anyworkanywhere.com or www.overseasjobs.com)
If you want more chances of scoring free accommodation, you can try:
- Couchsurfing – people will let you stay in their home for free, letting you use whatever space available—may it be the couch, the floor, or if you’re lucky, a spare room! There is a whole community for this at www.couchsurfing.org and you just have read the references or testimonials of other people to assure that your host is someone that you can trust
- Home Stays – you stay with a family overseas and experience their day-to-day life (a good website for this is www.helpx.net)
- Home Swap – if you have a house/apartment/condo that you’re leaving behind, you can let someone stay in your residence for free and then in return, you can stay in theirs for free too (www.homeexchange.com)
- House Sit or Pet Sit – you get to have a whole house to yourself which you have to look after while the owners are gone for vacation; most of the time, to take care of the pets too (www.trustedhousesitters.com or www.mindmyhouse.com)
Needless to say, the possibilities are endless. You won’t ever run out of options to keep yourself afloat abroad..
#3 “I think my parents will kill me if I do this! (or) I don’t think my friends will understand.”
I know how you feel. It’s in our culture. For one thing, I have parents who are a bit conventional; so naturally, it took me a while to get them on my side as I revealed my grand decision of quitting my job. They thought I’ve gone crazy!
But here’s the thing: if you try your best to explain to them that this is what you want to do with your life and that this is what will make you happy—then I don’t think they’ll be that heartless to not let you go. Certainly they’ll be taken by surprise at first because they’re simply concerned about your well-being, but if you lay out your plans and back-up plans, they will not only be assured of your safety but they will also get the message that you are serious about this.
As for your friends, they are really not an issue at all. This is YOUR dream, not theirs. Besides, if they are really your friends, they will support you, they will cheer you on, and they will probably even throw in some tips so that you can keep your head in the game. There might be those who are secretly wishing that you fail, but we can’t really avoid those, can we? Just carefully pick your friends and above all: start mastering the life skill of ‘not caring so much about what others think’.
Pay no heed to social pressure. You’ll just be wasting your time trying to mind others when you could just focus that energy into quitting your job to travel the world.
#4 “I have no one to travel with. I’m afraid to travel alone!”
So no one has the same passion or goal as you do; that’s a shame, I know. But hey, there’s no rule saying that you have to be with someone while you travel!
However, I understand that some people are hesitant with the idea of doing such a bold move by themselves.
Don’t be. I assure you that once you go traveling, you are never really alone. You’re always bound to meet people along the way and they could eventually become your best friends for life. They may be locals or they may be travelers like you, and this whole process is one of the best gifts of travel that you should not miss out on.
To slowly ease your way into the idea of going solo, try going on a trip to a place in your home country all by yourself. Try it once, twice, or even more! Once you start to get a feel for it, start planning the big trip! Go and jump on opportunities that will surround you with lots of people: staying at hostels, attending festivals or concerts, and the like. You can even join communities online—there are a lot of groups that hold meet-ups in different parts of the globe (like Couchsurfing or InterNations)! And of course, don’t forget us, the travel bloggers! Just message someone who’s in the country you’re going into and we’re always more than happy to meet you and show you around.
I’m pretty sure that during your travels, people from back home or even people on the road might suddenly want to accompany you in your journey. But there’s also the chance that you have found the joy of traveling solo so you don’t mind being by yourself at all. End result: a win-win!.
#5 “It’s too dangerous! I might get killed, robbed, or scammed!”
Well… you can get killed, robbed, or scammed in your own country too! The Philippines, for instance, isn’t really one of the safest countries in the world, you know? Manila is even ranked by some publications as one of the world’s most dangerous cities, and yet here you are: safe, alive, and reading this post! (Truth be told, I have been robbed and scammed more in my own country than in the foreign countries that I have been to).
So yes, every place can be dangerous but it’s up to you to make it not as dangerous as it seems. The world isn’t such a scary place as others or the media paints it to be. You just have to continually use your common sense and be street smart at all times (much like what you do at home) and you’ll be fine. Do the basics of watching out for your safety and finding out what to avoid.
In short: do your homework. For instance, once you’re in a country that you’re visiting, you can ask the hotel or hostel for tips and if there are any areas that you should avoid.
Just don’t ever let your fear keep you from missing out on seeing the world. There’s just so much ‘good’ out there that you should see for yourself. It may be full of strangers but most of those strangers are always willing to lend you a hand and keep you safe/welcomed.
#6 “I can get lost!”
It’s going to be a foreign territory so this can be a valid reason: but it’s not. There are so many ways that can keep you from getting lost, and if you actually do your ‘homework’ beforehand, such a predicament won’t ever happen to you.
Even if it would, there are a lot of people who can help guide you back to the right track. You can even take precautions like bringing a GPS or a map with you, or taking a card from the hotel/hostel you’re staying in so that in case you get lost, you can either call the hotel or show the locals the address and they can definitely guide you back home.
If I may add, getting lost isn’t so bad either because it gives you the possibility of discovering ‘hidden gems’, meeting new people, and developing important life skills. It’s evidently one of the joys of traveling!
#7 “I’m in a relationship right now. I can’t leave my bf/gf! I wish I had done this when I was single!”
Then travel together! If you do, the two of you can save together for your travel fund and it will make things faster and easier, thereby further avoiding that ‘I can’t afford it‘ excuse. (You could also conquer the ‘I’m afraid to travel alone‘ part!) Then once the ‘big trip’ starts, sharing costs also helps! My ex and I fairly share things because we both work, save, and spend equally — much like any partnership!
There are a lot of travelling couples out there and it’s a very fun way to travel because you’re experiencing and discovering new things alongside a special person: your best friend! But of course, I recognize the possibility that some partners wouldn’t want to do the same — it might not be their passion. If showing them the possibilities and joys of a traveling lifestyle is futile, it may be time for a little bit of assessment and sacrifice.
One of the things that you should never let happen is for someone to hold you back from what you want in life; you will regret it, and that ‘regret’ might even put a damper on your relationship because in the long run, you’re bound to inadvertently put the blame on your partner for keeping you from your dreams. (And let’s say you unfortunately break up in the future! Remember that those years are years that you can never get back and you might hate yourself and your ex for that. Therefore you should definitely avoid this circumstance).
Ultimately: don’t give up your dreams for someone else. It may seem noble for you to not do this for your partner, but how about you? You’re totally neglecting yourself — which you never should. So try and make a compromise: see if a long distance relationship can work. If your partner is understanding, he or she wouldn’t be so selfish so as to prevent you from doing what you really want.
#8 “I’m too old. It’s too late!”
Deteriorating health is unavoidable and I am very sorry to hear if this is your case. However, if you are still able to move around, then this is not an excuse that you should use… it’s never too late to travel!
For one, I know bloggers who are in their 40s to 60s and yet they are out there, making their dreams a reality! So please just always remember that age is not an issue—it will never be an issue. Take it from the world’s oldest backpacker, Keith Wright, who doesn’t let his age (95) get in the way of his travel plans!
(TIP: There’s the possibility that if you have rendered a long period of service to the company you’re working for right now, they might grant you a long time off from work, so start negotiating!).
#9 “I have a family and I have kids!”
If a life of travel is what you really want, it is very possible if you really let yourself open up to the fact that you can always put it into motion. I don’t have kids yet but I certainly know that having a family requires a certain level of dedication and one can’t just get up and go like I did — still, the opportunity of traveling for an extended period of time will still and always be there.
I know a lot of travelers out there who have their kids traveling with them (just search Google for travel blogs of families and you’ll see what I’m talking about, or see the comments section of this post; some bloggers who are traveling with their families have attested to this possibility!).
Now these people have either gone to the extreme of selling their properties, or just simply saving up for the big trip to bring the whole ‘wolf pack’ along for the ride (since travel can really bring a lot of lessons for the kids). But there are others who have also tried leaving the kids for a while with the grandparents as they do a year or two of travel.
You see, it’s never an impossible thing. It won’t be an irresponsible decision either if you really plan for it ahead and make the necessary preparations.
#10 “I have to take airplane rides, I hate and fear flying!”
You don’t always have to take airplanes. Say hello to ships, buses, trains, or generally: land and sea vehicles!
Have you heard of Graham Hughes? He’s the first person in the world to travel to all 201 countries WITHOUT using a plane. It takes a while alright, but it will save you loads of cash!
Basically for this: always know that there’s an option for you to avoid flying IF NOT overcome it! It shouldn’t keep you ‘stuck’ in where you are. To know how you can cope with your fear of flying, read below:.
#11 “I don’t know any other languages. I won’t be able to get around!”
But you know English, right? Then you’re good. It’s the universal language of the world and almost everyone knows at least a word or two. (Hand and body gestures can already help a lot too!)
If you’re planning on spending a long time in certain countries that have a unified language, you can invest on learning the basics of the language. Other than taking formal classes (since those can be expensive) there are a lot of free platforms online that will help guide you through this process like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone.
If you’re just going to hop from one place to another, the language would still NOT pose as a problem for you. There are ways: do a quick Google search for the most popular phrases of a country’s language, buy a book like Lonely Planet since they usually list out the important translations, or simply use your smart phone. There are various free offline translator apps for different languages wherein you can translate a sentence to read or show off to the locals (if you can’t read the translation yourself)..
#12 “It’s such a hassle. My passport won’t get me anywhere good, anyways!”
As a Philippines passport holder, I know the frustration of having to apply for Visas to 1st-world countries like in the U.S. or Europe. However, our passports are not as limited as you think, you may not get into the U.S. or Europe as quick or as easy, but there are still other options for you to start traveling around Visa-free.
These countries are not only in Asia but there are several places in South America too that are Visa-Free; they are Brazil, Peru, and Colombia among many others. So ‘My passport won’t get me anywhere good’? – wrong. Because these places are unquestionably great, they are rich with culture and nature that can equal any wonder of a 1st-world country!
I actually know a couple of fellow Filipino travel bloggers who are currently back-packing through the whole of South America for years; there’s Argentina for instance that requires a Visa, but they still have managed to apply for one while still staying abroad — so such should be enough proof for you to know that it’s obtainable.
On the other hand, should you ever really have to deal with Visas, there’s always a way to make it a hassle-free process by properly planning beforehand and using whatever ‘resources’ you have to prove that you can make it out there. For me to get to stay long here in Europe, I have tried showing to the embassy a proof of sponsorship from a relative (which was only on paper) and later on, as I continued to have a more steady cashflow from my online work, I showed documents supporting such—both cases have worked very well and got me the visas that I wanted.
NOTE: As a Filipino, did you know that you can also get a 1-year youth working holiday visa in New Zealand? So if you’re aged 18 to 35, check out this link!
P.S.: If you’re not from the Philippines, this still applies to you too! More so if you’re from a 1st-world country because your passport would surely have a LOT more Visa-free countries!
#13 “I won’t have a career (or) I might not get a job once I finish traveling!”
Not entirely true. You can mix your career and your travel plans, both at the same time! (See samples of jobs that will enable you to work remotely in this article here). I am one example of it and I will never trade my career right now for anything in the world. I love working for myself as a digital nomad and as an entrepreneur. Of course, owning a business was not an easy thing and it absolutely didn’t happen in a day; but I’m pretty sure that along the way, much like me, you will get some inspiration to start up your own.
But let’s say you’re one of those people who aims to travel for a while and then come back to their home country to search for a job again. Depending on your skills and experience, doing a bit of travel and then launching on a work schedule again won’t look bad on your CV. In fact, as a potential employee for a company, it will shape you up into someone who is capable and well-rounded; HR people will also probably go crazy for your experiences and learning if you market yourself the right way.
Then again… I have a hunch that after some time of travel, I don’t think you’ll ever want to work for someone else again and that along the road, much like me, you would have found a career that will fulfill you for the rest of your life..
#14 “I don’t have the time to do this. I’ll just travel later on when I’m settled.”
Fast forward and now you’re in your deathbed, about to die. You’ll remember this phrase with utter bitterness, regretting that you never made those travel dreams happen… despite saying that you will.
You have to realize the drastic effect that ensues when you always try to put things off: the more you postpone it, the more unlikely it is to ever happen.
Tell me, are you planning to travel only when you’re retired and in your 60s? Do you think you will still have the same energy or vigor to go on hikes and see wonderful trails? I have met too many people in my life who have had this grief, saying that they shouldn’t have waited until they’re ‘settled’ because now they’re too tired to venture out to far lands.
Other than this, let me face you with the reality that you can’t really predict the future. What if one day you lose the ability to use your legs despite still being in your 30s? That’s a bit of a drastic example but the idea is that you really wouldn’t want to wallow in self-pity thinking that if only, if only, you took that trip 5/10/20/30 years ago then you would have managed to at least have a taste of that wanderlust being fulfilled.
#15 “I don’t think it’s the right time. Maybe next year…?”
I bet you will say the same thing next year, and then the year after that, and so on… that it just becomes ‘never‘.
Tell you what: there’s NO right time. You just do it and make time for it. It’s as simple as that. We are never ready for anything anyway—may it be love, studies, career, or moving to a new place.
It just happens if you let it happen.
Take it from the artists; when inspiration strikes them, do you think they just sit around and say “Ah, inspiration! Jolly good! I’ll use this for tomorrow, or next month, or next year!”
No, they don’t do that. What they do is that they quickly use that impulse to do things, because they know that it can vanish any second and that it might never come again.
So if inspiration does hit you—may it be in the form of a person, a book, a movie, this post—go and quickly take advantage of it. Take action.
I say this because for me, inspiration played a HUGE role in my life. I mainly acquired it through the people that I’ve met: they were nomads, backpackers and entrepreneurs who were mostly passing through the city of Manila, sharing their stories of adventure. One of those people was actually one of my best friends, and it was because of his life story and influence that my plans of working remotely was finally put into motion. He even helped me a lot in realizing that my fears shouldn’t hold me back—it should rather help me go forward because there were other things that I should be more concerned about: one of which is a possible future where I’m miserable and unhappy.
Needless to say, the effects and advantages of such a feeling is tremendous that you should never, ever, ignore it nor delay. If you want to travel NOW, then the time to act is definitely now..
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I guess you noticed that I brush a lot on the topic of ‘regret‘ in this post.
I can’t help but talk about it because I have met too many individuals who look back on their lives with bitter realizations that they are filled with regrets, missed opportunities, ‘what ifs’—and I don’t want you to end up as one of them. A little regret here and there is fine, but for something that you really want? That would really hurt deep, especially if you know that you could have done it if only you did not hesitate.
[Tweet “Making a big life change is pretty scary. But you know what’s even scarier? Regret.”]
That’s why I urge you to stop using these excuses if travel is what you really want to do. By now you should realize that there’s no one else holding you back, but you. You’re at a war with yourself and I wish that once you finish reading this post, the part of you that really wants to make your dreams happen will be the one that wins.