Coming from a small town in Malaysia, I always wondered if I would ever be able to see the world someday. I spent most of my teenage years and my twenties wishing I could be elsewhere. I would escape through the pages of Time and National Geographic magazines, Reader’s Digest and countless books; always wondering what it would be like in all those countries I read about.
Aside from moaning about my predicament, I really didn’t do anything about it.
I wasted a good chunk of my twenties being an armchair traveller; wishing I could go to those amazing places Ian Wright was exploring on The Globe Trekker. It dawned on me towards the end of my second decade on Earth that I couldn’t continue living a life of wishing and wanting. I needed to do something about it. I needed to get out there and see the world for myself!
I finally achieved my long-time dream of visiting London
I’m glad I made that decision and have gone on to visit some of those places that I grew up dreaming about. But, at the back of my mind, I do wonder how things would have panned out if I only had the courage and know-how to go about travelling the world. What would I have done differently? What advice would I have given the 20-something me?
Make A Vision Board Or List
I wish I had made a list of the places I wanted to visit – whether near or far. This would have given me the foresight and the hope of being able to see those countries some day. Even if it didn’t happen immediately, at least I would have had something to look forward to, something to aspire to. A vision board would give you a more clearer picture of where you may want to go to. Some even try Pinterest to create such boards. Be creative and daring – draw, paint, cut, paste, write. Whatever way it is, just do it and you would feel a whole lot more positive about your future travel plans.
Research, Research, Research!
Once you’ve picked a country (or countries), go ahead and read up about the place you intend to travel to. Visit Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, scour the hundreds of travel blogs and find out all you can about getting there and how much it would cost; even talk to people who may have been there. They would normally be able to help with the costing part of things and all those dos and don’ts. This way you would understand that not all places are out of reach. With some planning and foresight, you can venture out to other countries.
A Little Budgeting Goes A Long Way
A sample of how your weekly/monthly budgeting could look like. Image credit: creativekristi.com
Now that you more of less know how much things would cost, set a budget for your entire trip – flights, accommodation, food, travel insurance, bus or train tickets, museum tickets, etc. All these things need to factor into your budget. Once that is set, the hard work begins in putting aside some money every month for the trip. Consider this your travel fund and put it into a savings account that you hardly use; well, except for trips. All this budgeting may seem like a lot of work, but it is worth it in the end.
We don’t realize how much we actually spend on a daily basis. We take it for granted that going out for meals everyday wouldn’t come up to much. But a little bit of calculation at the the end of the month will clearly prove otherwise.
So, instead of going out everyday with your friends, try to cut it down to maybe twice a week and eat in the rest of the days. If you’re worried about losing your friends, invite them over and have a cooking session together! Hey, we all have to start somewhere, so why not learn together? Not only will you save money, you can avoid turning into a hermit.
Try to find other ways in which you can save some money too, i.e. package deals for gym or yoga studio fees, mobile phone plans, credit card cash back programmes (check with your local banks for best options or head on over to Credit Card Insider’s section on best reward credit cards) and buying/renting second-hand books.
Also, do know that there are also alternatives to your regular hotels or hostels. Not only will you get to mingle with the locals, you get to learn a whole lot more about their culture and way of life.
Try these methods for a different and, possibly, cheaper way to travel :
- Volunteering : One World 365, International Volunteer HQ, i-to-i
- Couchsurfing, Airbnb (a personal fave!) and homesits
- Workaway, WWOOF, HelpXChange
- Working holiday visas
Believe. Be Fearless!
I never thought I could venture out because I was always worried about the “what ifs” – what if I lose all my money? What if I get lost or scammed? What if no one talks to me and throws me out of the country? Ok, that’s a bit extreme. But, we can go on forever with this and will come nowhere close to achieving our dream of travelling. You may set off on your travels feeling unsure of yourself, but I can assure you that all your mistakes and mishaps are a great way to learn how to navigate through this little thing called life.
You heard her. Get on that rocketship!
I must admit that there are times I envy some of my friends and fellow travel bloggers who are brave enough to seek new adventures at a relatively young age. Little do they know that their experiences help shape their outlook on life and will forever change how they view this world. I am positive that they are all the wiser from each adventure.
Although I wish I could have had those experiences myself at that age, I am still very grateful for the opportunities I have now to wander the world. I may be taking a longer route to all my favourite destinations, but I am sure I will get there someday. Maybe I just needed to take my time to understand that in order to live life to the fullest, I needed to get off that darn armchair, suck it up and take a leap of faith.
NOTE : A big thank you goes out to Dani Alderman for inspiring me to write this post.