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Too poor to travel

“I have a question for you. If you don’t have money, like you’ve said before, then how is it that you can travel? Doesn’t it take money to travel?”

I’ve been asked that question in one way or another more than once.

The answer is quick, easy, and simple: traveling is a priority for me.

“Hey! Want to do brunch?”

“Sorry, I can’t afford it.”

“Hey, want to go see a movie?”

“I would love to if it didn’t cost $16 per ticket.”

I spend a lot of time participating in activities that don’t cost money when I’m not on the road. I say that it’s because I don’t have money or can’t afford it, but the truth is that I’d rather save what little money I have for traveling.

I know I’m not the only one--there are dozens, if not hundreds, of travel blogs out there by people just like me.

After I was most recently asked that question, I realized that I need to change how I phrase my skimpy spending habits (for me). Instead of, “I’m broke” or “I don’t have any money,” I’ve started suggesting alternatives, such as, “I’d love to do brunch, but can we do coffee instead? I’m trying to save my money so that I can travel.”

I’ve found that most people understand and are on board with that reasoning and, oftentimes, they suddenly remember that they’re trying to save money, too! It’s also an opportunity to lead by example, and perhaps have some positive influence on others.

I’m also changing the phrasing, though, because of the books on wealth and money that I’ve read. If I’m constantly focusing on what I’m lacking (lots of money), then I’m going to continue lacking what I’m focusing on.

However, if I change the phrasing, acknowledge that I have what I need, will continue to have what I need, and am not spending out of choice but instead of out of necessity, I am adopting an “abundance mindset.” This mindset supposedly encourages money to come my way (according to the books and articles I’ve read about financial freedom and success).

They’re not saying that stating, “I have and will have money” will suddenly make money appear. They’re saying that you’re better able to recognize opportunities when you open your mind and focus on positivity instead of being distracted by negativity.

I digress.

Traveling is not only a priority in my life, it’s a necessity. My sanity relies on it. When I’m feeling confused, anxious, or unclear, moving to a new location helps me clear my head and narrow in on what my intuition is telling me.

Sometimes simply going to a coffee shop or to my office does the trick. I’m grateful for the times that works. But sometimes the stress and anxiety follow me or reattaches once I return home.

So, away I go.

I hit the road; I hop on a plane.

People often tell me that they’re jealous of my travels. They wish they could travel like I do. They have so many places they’d like to go, if only _____(fill in the blank).

Honestly, it frustrates me when people say they’re jealous of my travels. Not because I’m ungrateful that they’re inspired by my ability to go-go-go, but because I firmly believe that travel is attainable--if you really want it to be.

I often reply, “Don’t be jealous! If you want to travel, then go travel!”

That’s usually met with various excuses and “if/then” statements, to which I respond, “if it’s truly important to you, you’ll make it happen.”

I don’t like jealousy.

But seriously. If it’s important to you, there is a way to make it happen. There is always a way. I’ll help you find a way! It won’t necessarily be easy or simple, which will show you how much of a priority travel is--or isn’t--in your life, but it will be doable.

More often than not, the difficult part is making the decisions or choices that aren’t popular with those around you. Until last year, I saw my parents and sister no more than once or twice per year for most of the 10 years I lived away from them. I’m blessed with a family who accepts me for me and loves my passion for travel, but not all families would be so understanding of this.

I’ve been a nomad, a wanderer, a seeker of change, and a seeker of my “right” place for as long as I can remember. I attended a K-8 grade school but left after 5th grade because I wanted a change. I then attended a 6-12 grade school but left after 10th grade because I needed a change. I then attended two different colleges.

Since then, I’ve struggled to stay in one place for more than six months at a time.

I spent the semester after college working for my alma mater in Illinois. Then a month in New Zealand. Then a month in Seattle. Then two weeks in Florida before returning to Illinois for three. Then Colorado was home for about five months before a quick ten-day stint in Seattle, a flight to London, and a train to Edinburgh for grad school.

During grad school, I was based in Edinburgh, but I spent at least a month in the highlands of Scotland, five weeks in the Lake District of England, and almost three months living in London. I also took five international trips, tripling the number of countries I’d been to before arriving in London.

After 16 months living outside of the United States, I decided to settle in Orange County (Southern California). That lasted for about four months, then back to Colorado I went for another five months before spending a couple of weeks traveling on the East Coast and a few days in Seattle with family.

On November 15, 2016, I finally settled somewhere.--or was as settled as a wanderer like me can be. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 15 months now and have not left the city much during that time. (Okay, at least two of those months were spent somewhere else--central California, Seattle, Boston, Edinburgh, or London. But still. Pretty impressive for a nomad.)

To an outsider, my life might look a little bit like a mess. Heck, as I typed all of that, I caught myself thinking, “man, my life is a mess!”

And for a while, I thought that something was wrong with me, that I was approaching life the wrong way.

But the truth is, my life is not a mess. I focus on my present and the next step. I let the universe (or, intuition) guide me. Not only that, I’m living life the way that is right for me. It doesn’t fit into the traditional “American dream” life trajectory, but that doesn’t make it “wrong.” And while I definitely do NOT have everything figured out (or all of my sh*t together), I’m confident that I’m moving forward and that forward is the right direction.

As I wrote in last week’s post, I grasp opportunities when they arise. And while it looks a little messy on the outside, there’s a golden thread of commonality hidden inside.

What matters most is that I’m trying. I’m working hard to create the life that makes my heart sing. And I’m focusing on the priorities in my life: my health, my career, and travel.

Do you think that traveling isn’t financially possible for you? Ask yourself how important traveling is to you? Am I willing to cut down on non-essential purchases so that I can travel? Can I brew my own coffee? Can I paint my own nails? Can I shine my own shoes? Do I have to upgrade my phone, or can I stick with the current model? Do I have to go out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Can I learn to cook for myself?

If you can’t see any place in your life where you can cut back your spending, and if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, that’s okay, too. You don’t have to travel far. There are plenty of places to explore in this world, and I’m sure (for most of you) there are places not too far away from you. You can have an adventure anywhere, even in the place you’ve lived your whole life.

It’s about being creative and open-minded. It’s an attitude. Planning on going out for dinner? Instead of sticking with your routine, play dress-up and pretend you’re someone else. Order something different! Try a new restaurant. Explore. There are ways to make familiar places feel new again.

And if travel is truly a priority to you, you can and will make it happen, so long as you’re willing to put in the work!