It seems like every other day there’s an article getting passed around online extolling the virtues of traveling. They talk about all the ways it can change your life, expand your mind, give you perspective or, at the very least, give you some lifelong memories that will bring a smile to your face on your deathbed. But the reality is you probably can’t afford to travel. Top beach resorts and eating out at fancy restaurants in some far off exotic location just isn’t something most people have money to do, especially in this day and age. I know I can’t. Even budget traveling in developing countries for weeks on end, which can be infinitely less expensive and arguably much more rewarding than luxury vacations, can still cost a good bit of money.
So, yes, if you’re one of the many people in the world living in crushing poverty and who doesn’t know where your next meal is coming from or whether or not you’ll be able to make next month’s rent, you’re right, you can’t afford to travel right now. And the fact is that if you’re older and married with kids, yeah, I hate to tell you, but you might have missed your chance to travel as well. Even if you’re doing alright financially, the cost of traveling as a family is exponentially more expensive. This is to say nothing of how much more difficult a trip would be just in terms of coordinating it with your spouse and your children’s school needs. And whether or not you’re married with kids, chances are that if you’re older and following the prescribed path into adult for Americans, you’ve probably taken on a lot of other financial obligations like a mortgage, car payments and maybe even credit card bills, all of which still have to be paid whether you’re in the country or not.
But maybe you don’t fall into any of these categories, that still doesn’t mean you can afford to travel. Being young, single and not living in crushing poverty is still a far cry from having money enough to put on a backpack and head out into the world for a couple of months or even a few weeks. While I have to admit that it’s a pretty unfounded stereotype that most of the people budget traveling around the world are trust-fund babies or traveling on mommy and daddy’s dime, they are still obviously doing something right financially to be able to do it.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of them saved for months, if not years to be able to afford their trip, but the simple fact they had extra money to squirrel away means they were doing better, money-wise, than a lot of people, right? Never mind the fact that some of them made personal sacrifices to have some money left over at the end of the month or have a different perspective on consumerism in general. So yeah, maybe they decided to give up their four dollar a day Starbucks habit and started packing their own lunch for work as a way to save money. It doesn’t mean just anyone can do that. And sure, maybe they realized that putting things on their credit card that they don’t really need would make it harder for them leave the country for a long trip, but who wants to watch a movie on a 27 inch TV when you could be watching it on a 52 inch TV. Fine, it might be more than you can afford right now, but your credit card only requires small monthly payments. And good for them if they don’t mind being seen in a crappy old car that didn’t put them in a lot of debt. It doesn’t mean you should have to question your priorities for taking out a loan on that sexy beast of a car you’re driving that most certainly has changed everything about your life for the better including how you see and feel about yourself. And just because they didn’t come with you and the crew on that trip to Vegas that would set them back 1,000 bucks (a month of travel expenses in a lot of places), that doesn’t mean it wasn’t money well-spent for four days of fun.
So, yeah, maybe you want to travel, but you really can’t afford to. Besides, being able to travel, like all worthwhile things in life, is something you shouldn’t have to work or sacrifice to do.