— travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams —

travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams

(And other common misconceptions about people who love to travel)

Northloom_Passport Holder_Backpack

I’ve just finished preparing a rough budget for a trip I plan to take next year with my family, and against every fiber of yearning in my body, I’ve come to accept the inevitable conclusion: I can’t afford it.

I started saving for the trip last January. It wouldn’t have been till April next year, so I still have nearly 10 months to save some more. I found a really good price for the plane tickets (and it doesn’t even involve Sheremetyevo). And I actually earn an okay income for someone who works part time.

But despite all that, I still can’t afford the trip.

Just…can’t. Not next year anyway.

And so because I’m feeling really frustrated about it at the moment, I thought it would be a good time to talk about some of the most common misconceptions that people have about people who like to travel.

Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

No. 1
No, we don’t have a lot of extra cash lying around.

Some people are born into money and go globe-trotting even before they are potty trained.

Most of us aren’t those people.

Most of us are able to travel because we save for it.

Sometimes we really, really, really want to go somewhere and we can’t because we don’t have the budget for it. Sometimes it takes us years to save for one trip. Sometimes we save for years and it still isn’t enough. And that’s okay — not asking for sympathy, but not gonna apologize either for those times we are able to save enough.

Travel, really, is just one of those things that you decide to do and then you try to find a way to do it. It’s like when you decide to buy, say, an iPhone or a car or a house — none of which I have, by the way — and you find a way to fit the monthly payments into your budget. It’s not something you just have, it’s something you work for.

It’s funny because sometimes, when you’re traveling, people will say, “oh, wow, you must have lots of money,” and they just don’t realize that at that exact moment, you’re actually feeling like you’re practically bleeding money because you’ve spent so much already and you know it will take you a long, long time to earn that money back.

There are exceptions, obviously, but most of us — we don’t travel because we’re worth a lot, we travel because travel is worth a lot. The experience is worth the money we lose doing it.

Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

No. 2
No, we don’t have lots and lots of extra time.

People who travel have exactly 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else. We have to budget our time, just like everyone else. We have work, and families, and Stuff That Need To Be Done, just like everyone else.

I’ve actually had someone volunteer me to do something he wanted to get done because, apparently, I was always traveling and that must mean I have all the free time in the world to do whatever. I mean, I suppose I can understand why people might think that way — after all, I write about my travels, but I don’t write about all the times I’m up to my eyebrows in work and staying up till dawn to catch a deadline — but still. Do I really have to post pictures of myself hunched nearly cross-eyed in front of a screen to make people consider the possibility that I might be just as busy as they are?

(And, anyway, I have a travel blog, don’t I? Not a reality show. It’s not like I owe anyone a balanced depiction of my life.)

For what it’s worth, there are a lot of things that other people have the time to do that I don’t — or rather, there are a lot of things that other people find the time to do that I have made the choice not to, simply because I can’t find a way to fit them seamlessly into my schedule. Go to the movies, go out with friends, go to the mall, go out drinking, go wall climbing, go do yoga, work out regularly, work full time — I rarely to never get to do any of that. And that’s fine.

One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve grown older is that there simply isn’t enough time to do everything I want to do. In order to do some things, I have to not do other things. Prioritization. One doesn’t have time for travel, one makes time for travel. And because my day-to-day life is busy enough as it is, when I forcibly squeeze in time for travel, I am not less busy, I am actually even more busy, if that makes sense.

(But, yes, I know I should work out more regularly.)

And in relation to No. 2…

Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

No. 3
No, we’re not always traveling.

At least I’m not. It may seem that way sometimes because I am pretty much writing about travel throughout the year but I am definitely not traveling throughout the year. In fact, if I have the time to put together a coherent post about a place I visited, that usually means I am currently at home and not in a mad dash to catch a train or a plane.

Fun facts:

  1. This year I haven’t been out of the country.
  2. Next year…remains to be seen.
  3. I have no trips scheduled for the rest of the year and it’s only the beginning of July. But I will still be writing for the rest of the year, if only because I have the most awful article backlog.

I don’t think I will ever park my bags for good — there’s just so much of the world to explore, so many things to learn and experience — but I also don’t see the benefit of being on the road all the time. (And besides, I can’t afford it.) At this point in my life, I am just as happy to be home as I am to be off on an adventure.

Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

No. 4
No, we’re not all irresponsible millennials thinking only of the present.

In every travel article, there’s bound to be at least one comment griping about how people are spending all their money on travel and not giving a thought about what they will do if they get sick. (“Travel-travel ngayon; pag-magkasakit, nganga.” LOL.) To be fair, these comments probably come from people who have been forced to step up and take care of irresponsible family members, so the bitterness is understandable. And I will admit there have been times I’ve thrown financial caution to the winds of wanderlust.

But no, I don’t spend all my money on travel.

Honestly, I can afford that trip I was talking about in the beginning of this article if I were willing to spend an enormous chunk of my savings on it. But that just seems imprudent. What would happen if I suddenly need that money for something more important? It’s not fair to the people responsible for me and it’s not fair to the people I am responsible for.

Some people think that it’s important to make the most of the present — because you only live once, because you can always earn more money later, because you will regret more the things you didn’t do than the things you did, etc. There are also people who believe it’s better to delay gratification — to work and save and scrimp right now so that you can eventually retire early and then do all the things you’ve been dreaming of doing. Me, personally, I believe in balance. I’m a simple girl and don’t really need to do or have much to be happy, so I like to invest a bit in the present and a bit in the future.

In practical terms, that means every month I try to put my income into:

  • A savings fund
  • A travel fund
  • An investment fund
  • Insurance

Sometimes if I am saving for a major trip, I will skip savings this month and skip investment the next month and so on. And all that is on top of necessities like food and utilities, so it’s obviously just a small bit of money that goes into each fund every month, but it does grow over time, and then I don’t feel like such a failure in #adulting. ๐Ÿ˜€

Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

No. 5
No, we’re not hayahay.

Hayahay is a Cebuano word that describes people who live a life of comfort and leisure.

But, well, see No. 1 to 4.

I quite realize I’m very fortunate to have had opportunities for travel and I’m very thankful for that. But no, I’m not more hayahay than everyone else. I think if you reexamine these popular misconceptions and the realities behind them, what you’ll begin to understand is that traveling is not an ability, it is a choice.

Moreover, it’s a choice available to a lot of people; a lot of people actually can travel. Can and do — and can’t and don’t — are two totally separate things. People like me — people who do travel — are just a subset of a much larger group of people who can travel. If you’re outside that subset, well, to put it bluntly: you can travel, you just don’t.

And that’s fine, by the way. People have good reasons for traveling and people have good reasons for not traveling. No one is better than the other. But do understand that it is a choice. If you want to make the choice to travel then you should just do all you can to make it happen. That’s all there is to it.

I think it’s important to point this out because, in the end, the whole of our life is a sum of our choices. We can’t have it all, all the time, but we can decide what we can and can’t live without. We can decide what goes into the “would be nice but…” column and what goes into the “I’ll sweat and starve if I have to” column.

Right now, unfortunately, the April 2017 trip is in the “would be nice but…” column. ๐Ÿ™ But…we’ll see. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe 2018, yeah? And in the meantime, I’ll continue to travel the greatest road of all: life.

No, I’m Not Always Traveling…and other common misconceptions about people who love to travel |ย ยฉ Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.
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15 Responses

  1. I can relate to you when you said, ” when I forcibly squeeze in time for travel, I am not less busy, I am actually even more busy, if that makes sense.” There’s so much planning involved when we travel in the hopes that everything will go on smoothly. We’d like to be informed and not be the ignorant tourist when we arrive to our destination,we also plan for what we leave behind at home. The pre- departure stage of travel requires a lot of time booking, strategizing, studying/ researching, budgeting, packing, and what not. It is a production in itself where you are the director, actor and crew. So yes, your statement makes total sense!

    1. Haha! That’s a pretty accurate description — it *is* a bit like a one-man production. And you’re the audience too — you’re the recipient of how well you did producing it. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. yep, if you travel you must be wallowing in money, ugh… my next “favourite” question is how come you can’t afford an iPhone, but you travel lol.. anyways…

    I hope you can visit Moscow, if not next year, the year after… xoxo

    1. Haha! So true. I’m always saying “That’s too expensive!” about one thing or another and my friends look at me like, “But you can travel abroad?” ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Hehe. Kapuyan bitaw ko usahay kung naa’y mosulti ug “hayahaya uy, sige man lang laag” — labi na kung sure jud ko mas daghan pa silag kwarta nako. Haha!

  3. I agree with many of these points because I’ve experienced the situations you described. It makes me nuts when someone makes a bitter comment about my traveling like “Must be nice!” Yes, it is nice. I want to say “It’s worth all the stuff I sacrifice in order to do it.” It doesn’t fall into my lap and also it’s not like I’m jet-setting off around Europe and staying in castles with gold toilets or something. Some of my trips are veryyyy budget and some are pretty short.

    1. Right? I don’t know if it’s just me but sometimes comments like that make me feel like I have to justify what I’m doing or apologize for it or downplay it. Which is silly. When someone buys a nice dress, you don’t go, “Must be nice to be able to afford a nice dress.”

      1. It is SO irritating!! Yes, how rude would it be to say that when somebody is wearing a nice dress or purchases a new appliance or car or goes out for dinner…why is so common to make those remarks about travel? So rude!
        You’ve reminded me of something that use to make me feel angry & insane. Let me share!!

        A co-worker of mine, several years ago, acted as if my trip to the UK & Ireland was the most bizarre thing she’d ever heard of. I didn’t tell her I was going or after I’d returned but she heard through the grapevine at work and asked me about it like “Now, where did you go?” I told her and she flatly asked me why I went to those countries. Everybody else asked about it as if they were excited for me and curious but she seemed miffed. She asked me if I went for religious reasons like as a part of a church mission group which I thought was the only bizarre part of the conversation (Yeah, Ireland needs us to convert them to Catholicism! They’ve never heard of it) so I told her I went on vacation. I kid you not that she again acted like I was the biggest weirdo and seemed offended by the word “vacation”….when I told her people don’t travel to those countries to try and convert people like they do from the United States to South American or African countries, she basically told me I was wrong because that’s why people usually travel out of the country. Maybe she was living in a bubble but I told her lots of people around the world take vacations for the sake of traveling itself, for learning and personal growth and experience and she said “Not in my world.”

        Inspired by your post I want to try not to justify and apologize to people or try to make them feel better or less awkward or left out when I work and save for something like traveling and get to do it.

      2. That’s so weird. I don’t suppose she’s the type of person who can pull pranks with a straight face, like she was just trying to see how you would react? Because that’s the only explanation I can think of, unless she lives in a totally different world, because people have been traveling for pleasure for centuries! Oooh, or maybe she’s a time traveler from like the 1500’s… Actually no I don’t think they traveled purely for religious reasons even then… I can imagine you trying to think of a diplomatic answer!

      3. HA! Maybe she is a time traveler. She’s a judgmental, competitive, ignorant person. Queen of backhanded compliments and generally the worst. Glad I don’t deal with her anymore. Let’s banish those people from our life and travels!=)

  4. I maybe reacting late, but i can relate to all of you, there was even a male co worker of mine, his words are like, why are you taking english test online? aren’t you good on it already, because of your frequent travels? and yes people around you have this misconception that you are either rich or you are spending all of your money in traveling, thus, they presume you don’t have any savings fund left, which is not true.Little they know, we just know how to budget well, with a lot of researching and budgeting.

    1. Hi Thenomadwannabe! Exactly. Most people will think we’re either rich or irresponsible or just fortunate. I mean, we *are* fortunate to be able to travel but give us a little credit for working hard and making sacrifices to make that “fortune” possible, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

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