Don’t Borrow Money Just to Travel

…and other advice you may not want to hear but should.

Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

As happy as it makes me when someone says I’ve inspired them to pursue their travel dreams, I also have one great fear: that what I say, or do, or write, will inadvertently push someone to travel — to Just Do It — even though they are clearly in a situation where traveling is just not the right thing to do.

So: I want to make a few things clear. I love travel, I’m a travel blogger, but I say:
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Don’t travel if you have to borrow money to do it
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Especially money you have no hope of repaying within a year.

Don’t do it. Just don’t.

Look, I know how much you want it. I know how absolutely amazing it would be to finally go somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. I know; believe me, I know.

I also know how crushing it is to look forward to a trip and then realize you just can’t afford it.

But it’s not the end of the world.

If it’s really a dream of yours to travel…save.

Don’t abandon that dream.

But don’t spend money you don’t have.

Paris is nice, London is nice, Tokyo is nice, but you know what, they will still be nice 5 years from now. Dili na modagan ang Paris. Trust me: the only people who will push you to spend money you don’t have on travel are the people who will benefit (ie, profit) from it.
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Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

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Don’t travel if you don’t have an emergency fund
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Some people might disagree but I would have to stand by this.

At the very least, if number 1 tells you not to spend money you don’t have, this one is saying: don’t spend all the money that you do have on travel.

Now, I know you’ve seen all those inspirational quotes on Instagram and Facebook telling you that, oh, you can always earn more money, experience is more important, et cetera, et cetera. But let me ask you: will the people who posted those quotes pay your hospital bills if you get sick?

No.

Travel is a want, not a need. It’s amazing, it’s eye-opening, it’s life-changing, but at the end of the day, it’s still just a want. (Or a top-of-the-pyramid need if you want to be all Maslow about it.) Before you spend on travel, make sure you’ve got enough for your day-to-day needs (food, clothing, shelter), essentials like education, and a bit of money tucked away for unforeseen events such as an illness or unemployment. Because, you know, it’s nice to have pictures and memories of Paris, but if you spend all your money on Paris, and you get sick, or your child gets sick, or if you suddenly lose your job, you can’t pay your bills with those pictures. Ug dili sad ma-prenda ang memories.

Be responsible.
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Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

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Don’t travel to a place just because it’s “Instagrammable.”

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I’m not saying don’t go to those visually captivating places you see on social media.

I’m saying: have a better reason for it.

Don’t go just to have the exact same pictures that everyone else has.

Instead, go to a place that means something to you. Go to a place that touches your heart. Whether it’s the location of your favorite movie, or the birth place of your favorite writer, or even just a place that you’ve always wanted to see since you were a kid, just let it mean something more than just something to post on Facebook.

Life is so short. Spend your resources on things that matter.
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Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

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Don’t travel and expect to be the next Mark Zuckerberg.

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Yesterday, I saw a video on Facebook with the caption: “Stories of 10 travellers now worth $173 billion dollars shows [sic] why travel is an investment, and it’s never too late to start.”

Which “travellers”? Among others, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg…and Christopher Columbus.

Non-random sampling at its finest.

The implication: travel and you’ll gain the insight you need to become rich.

“These people are no smarter or talented than you…. They still travelled and observed the world around them. They decided to have a big dream and accepted their ability to turn it into reality.”

(Funny, I don’t see hard work mentioned anywhere in the video.)

JK Rowling was in there too: “At age 25, this person was stuck on a delayed train travelling from Manchester to London. And came up with the idea of a 7-part novel series which they spent the next 5 years writing. The book series is now worth $15 billion dollars.”

Oh yay! I was on a delayed train from London to Inverness once — that’s thrice the distance, maybe I’ll end up with $45 billion.

The video was originally posted last November 2016; otherwise, they could just as well have included Dr. Dao.

“This man got on a plane and earned millions after. Travel, a solid investment.”

(Grr! Perhaps this video is the perfect illustration for why you should stay in school — at the very least until you learn the difference between causation and correlation, the problems with cherry-picking, and…dare I say it…ethics.)

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8 thoughts on “Don’t Borrow Money Just to Travel”

    • Hi Heather! I went over to your blog to learn a bit about you and see if I could suggest something you can do if you really like to travel. I can see it’s so much more complicated for you! I think no one will begrudge you a trip or two though. Maybe you could think of one place you’d like to visit and slowly save up for it? There are ways to make a trip not cost too much…

  • I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this post!!!! I’m actually bouncing in my seat reading it from nodding so hard agreeing with it all! Especially #3 – the fact that there are people out there planning their travels around what they think will rate well on social media really makes me worry about the state of the world 🙁

  • So true! I know people who travel so much–although they’re not living beyond their means–they are not saving money for the future. I have a cousin who goes everywhere—South America, Europe, etc but ask her if she has saved up for her retirement, probably not lol!

    • It can be kind of tricky, balancing how to live in the moment whilst also preparing for the future, but I think the key is exactly that: balance. Boring old budgeting.

  • On point! While it’s exciting and all, we have to burn hard-earned cash. Just be prudent and realistic. Good luck y’all!

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