When You Should NOT Drop Everything and Travel

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Photo via Les Haines via Flickr

Like me, well-meaning travel writers and bloggers promote why you should go off and travel. And, more like me, at times you have to weigh the balance of measuring spending money on experiences – and what your decision can cost you.

Recently, journalist Chelsea Fagan penned a great piece about the notion of choosing the experience of continuous travel and financial risks that come with it on her personal blog, “The Financial Diet.” Fagan examines the viewpoint that (especially younger) people have about long-term travel as being a must-do, don’t worry about money experience. Whether they have it or not.

In her piece, Fagan talks about an internet, well-to-do acquaintance that decides to get her master’s degree in Europe because it’s an “opportunity to learn and expand her mind. Fagan also points out that her friend’s “opportunity” won’t really guarantee anything but that her friend can take that risk due to having a financial safety net.

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Photo by frankieleon via Flickr

While Fagan does admit she has done some modest travel, she is pretty sound about how putting yourself in a monetary bind to travel “just because” adds up. I definitely agree with Fagan about not putting your financial future in jeopardy, yet I have to challenge her on this sentence: “Traveling for the sake of travel is not an achievement, nor is it guaranteed to make anyone a more cultured, nuanced person.”

As someone who travels for business and personal reasons, my experiences have been rewarding and enlightening. They’ve also resulted from choices; not privilege. Having come from a hard-working family, I fund my travels through different means of income. In my twenties and thirties, I held part-time retail jobs along with my full-time office one, did a unique but well-paid pet sitting gig, and parting with unneeded but still valuable junk. I gave up weekends to work and spent money when necessary (like toothpaste and gas).

Now in my forties and more self-employed, I have to admit that travel can cost me in some ways. Sometimes I’ve had to pass on a freelance assignment due to being away on one. Or as I give my ongoing clients my travel schedule, I do worry that maybe a day might come where they won’t need me anymore. Plus there’s the other side of this debate: regret. Or maybe FOMO. Or my fear of looking back as a sad, old woman who wished she did more with her life.

And though I’m dealing with a financial pinch right now, I have to say that I wouldn’t trade in my experiences for anything else. I also agree with Fagan in that being able to travel, or not, doesn’t mean that a person is any less, but I do think people should pursue this opportunity if they have the chance, and means to. Maybe it can’t be right away or in the way that you want, but do what you can without breaking your bank.

Just don’t sound like this person.

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