Recently, a few people have asked me how I go about travelling and everything involved, and the whole process is just a really long one that I decided to do a blog post specifically for that. I haven’t travelled much, in fact I only recently seriously took up the travel lifestyle but I have travelled my city as a local tourist, done way too much research and even planned my first ‘proper’ trip that I feel like I could share my two cents. I guess I can say I am sort of an experienced rookie, my previous travels to the UK and Ghana weren’t exactly done properly so I’m choosing to start over and do it right this time. Before we get too deep, I just want you to read this with the mindset that you don’t have to be rich to adopt the travel lifestyle. Now that that’s registered, let’s get into it.
You don’t have to be rich to adopt the travel lifestyle.
WHY ADOPT THE TRAVEL LIFESTYLE?
- Travel will change you: there used to be a time in my life when I was bored of almost everything, so much was basic and I wanted a lot more out of life but I didn’t know how or what to do to achieve that. I knew I didn’t want to continue to be okay with the same routines and cultures. But one day I went hiking on Lion’s Head in Cape Town and the diversity of the little crowd that I met along the hike trails blew my mind. I saw people from Croatia, Philippines, China, America, the list goes on. I got to see that it was very possible to leave your country so casually and come to a different unknown country and comfortably explore without it being so much of a big deal. That woke something within me, I wanted to be in a new country, sitting under a tree overlooking a lake with an icy backdrop, I wanted to be kayaking in a cold ass country where I had to wear 5 layers of clothing. It woke a hunger so deep that even though I knew I couldn’t afford to travel outside my country just yet, I decided to travel my city.
- You’ll make new and ‘different’ friends: so far, in all my local adventures, I have gotten to meet so many different people with so many different stories, advice and ideas; my view on life has changed. By having discussions with these people, I have seen that it is possible to live life differently and that my way of existing isn’t the only way. In fact, there are a million and one ways to exist and it is totally up to you to choose one or many.
- You will learn about yourself & the world: since I decided to do this, my entire life has changed. I am more accepting of who I am, all my perfections and imperfections make me who I am. Most importantly, I have learnt that the world is just too big a place to be worried about if you are right or wrong, or perfect or imperfect, or beautiful or ugly, those things don’t matter. There are way too much more important things to focus on. I don’t care much for the little inconsequential things because I know that it is possible to book a flight and wake up one day in a village where little girls ride reindeer (this is a culture in Mongolia), or a city with old Victorian buildings and tiny cobble stoned streets with bicycle parking spots on every corner. The thought that there is a huge world out there for me, so many different possibilities, so many different people, so many different experiences, makes me so happy, I wouldn’t know how to be sad for too long.
- You will get to live an extremely full life: one major thing that excites me the most about travelling is the fact that there are so many countries with cities in them with each city having its own experiences to gift you. Now think about how many countries we have on earth, then think about the average number of cities in each country, now imagine how many experiences are out there, how many possibilities, thinking about it makes my heart skip beats. Travelling will change everything for you, your view on life, your expectations, your understanding, your beliefs, and best of all, it’ll change you, that’s one common testimony among travellers: travel is life changing.
Travelling will change everything; your view on life, your expectations, your understanding, your beliefs, and best of all, travelling will change you.
MAKING THE DECISION
Now you know the possibilities, maybe your heart is racing too like mine does when I read travel blogs, now you get to decide to travel. Now you need to adjust your current lifestyle to accommodate travelling as you’re about to experience the best moments of your entire life. There are a few decisions you have to make to be able to comfortably incorporate that travel lifestyle, some will be hard, some will be easy, but the biggest step is making that decision.
- Cut down on unnecessary expenses: finances are usually the first thing you’d think about when you want to make the decision to travel, how you can afford it, what you need to earn to afford it, etc. Like I said earlier, you don’t need to be rich to travel. One major thing you’d have to do is cut down on unnecessary expenses, you’d be surprised that the $10 that goes into buying lunch everyday can get you on a plane visiting a new country at least once every year, including accommodation and other expenses. That money that goes into groceries that you end up throwing out, or on cheap clothes that you end up not liking. A $10 today can get you over $2000 at the end of the year. Let go of that impulsive buying habit, the overly expensive meals or parties, spending insane amounts on things you can still buy for reasonable amounts. I’m not saying you have to stop living your best life, of course you don’t have to let go of the nice hair, and nice clothes and eating out, but you can do them in moderation. Instead of eating out 3 or 4 times a week, cut it down to once a week. Take a little walk towards your destination and then book your Uber, you can cut Uber costs by up 40% if you do this. Create a meal plan for yourself and buy groceries accordingly so you can cook your own lunch, carry a water bottle so you don’t have to spend that $1 on a bottle of water that could pay comfortably for about 4 nights at a 3-star hotel at the end of the year. Little cuts can make a huge difference, be more prudent in your spending and you’d see how that will go a long way.
- Open a travel fund savings account: you should also open a separate travel fund savings account that you put money into every month. Do a rough estimate (we’ll talk more on that later in this post) of what it’ll cost to travel and spread that over the number of months you have till the chosen date (still more on this below), and save that amount every month. Preferably open a fixed deposit account which allows you withdraw only after a number of days notice period; this was actually how I managed to afford my first trip. I set a debit order to come off my account on the same day my salary was paid, and credit my fixed deposit account. There was a 32-day notice period on the account, which if not adhered to, you pay a penalty fee; so basically I had no choice. There were days I was left broke and helpless but I knew there was no touching that money, even if I wanted to. Also, these savings accounts usually have really good interest rates.
TAKING TIME OFF WORK
A lot of people worry that they won’t have enough time to travel because of their extremely needy and exhausting nine to five’s. According to a survey done by Geeky Explorer, 58% of travel bloggers have separate full-time jobs. They are able to achieve this by making really good use of public holidays, annual leave and for some, business travels. Did you know that you can get a 10-day holiday by taking 4 days annual leave during the Easter public holidays? You can also get a 16-day holiday if you take 7 days annual leave during the December/January holidays or a 10-day holiday if you take 3 days. Also, you can take a 5-day trip when a public holiday falls on a Wednesday by taking 2 days annual leave, or just making good use of a long weekend to visit a neighbouring city or country? If you’re wanting to start small and want to travel once a year, I believe even 5 days annual leave is more than enough.
Three very important things to consider when planning your trip are: research, finding flights and finding accommodation. Click on each expandable sections to read more.
Booking a flight on a ‘bad’ day can cost almost twice the price of booking on a ‘good’ (see attached photo how a one way ticket costs almost four times more on a certain day of the week compared to other days). The best, easy to use apps for finding cheap flights are SkyScanner and CheapFlights. SkyScanner gives you the option of searching flights to ‘Everywhere’ in case you are indecisive on where to go. This gives you flight prices to several destinations from wherever you are. In my experience, I find that you get cheaper flights more often on CheapFlight because they search a wider range of sites for the cheapest one.
You could save a huge amount by being flexible with your travel dates.
BABY STEPS: TRAVEL YOUR CITY
If you’re like I was at first with the hunger to travel but no funds for international travels, you can definitely travel your own city like I did, or travel to neighbouring cities. One of the major perks of visiting tourist attractions or ‘places with great aesthetics’ in your city is getting to meet like-minded people with different experiences, who can maybe become friends or even travel buddies. One fact is that there are so many people around us who make travelling a lifestyle, but we’d only get to meet them when we go to places they go to, i.e. ‘places with great aesthetics’ or tourist attractions. I have met some really interesting people on some of my local adventures, including tourists visiting my city. My most interesting experience was when I met an interracial couple on one of my trips (I talked about them here). I had solo-travelled to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and I met them somewhere half way and we went the rest of the trip together. They shared so much wisdom, tips and advice with me that I had to write some of them down, and they eventually gave me a free ride back to my place 😀 . Take advantage of the opportunities you have close to you, and if you’re one of those searching for motivation to travel, or you’re too scared to, travelling your city can expose you to a bit of what to expect when you travel abroad, which can help ease you into it. So do it, become a local tourist, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you.
Just to give you a rough idea of how much it can cost to travel, visiting a beautiful city with cheap flights from your country can cost about $450 including flight and 7-nights stay at a 3* hotel. Then you can factor in an average of $30 per day, which totals just $660 and that’s a really comfortable trip. You can go for cheaper accommodation and reduce daily expenses also and still have an amazing time. So, now you know travel isn’t only for the rich, you know the possibilities, you know what’s out there to be gained, now go ahead, make your plans and get excited about your first amazing trip. I can assure you, if you follow the tips I have given on here and other I’d share later, and also read up on various travel blogs, you’d have a super amazing time, and I’d be looking forward to hearing all your interesting stories. Go out there and start making the best days of your life!