Travel Cheap: A Lifestyle and Philosophy
Looking back at the last five years of my life, I wouldn’t change a thing. My husband and I have been through challenges just like everyone else in the world. It was not always easy. In fact, at times it was absolutely miserable, but what was gained in return is better than gold. So what am I talking about exactly? It is not the typical struggle you may think. It is not unemployment or the fact that I have been in school the entire five years. It wasn’t our wedding or having kids, although all of these things are no less difficult and serious in their own scope. For us, the struggle is our irresponsible lifestyle—Travel Addiction. (Yes, I really am serious)
My writing on HereWomenTalk is new, but those of you who don’t already know me will quickly realize that I love to write about travel and my trips with my husband. Just over five years ago Dennis and I set out on our first vacation together. We quickly learned that, although lounging by the pool and dining out every night is fun, we wanted something more from our trips. They quickly evolved from relaxing vacations to bordering expeditions, from which you came home exhausted. We craved the adventure of a new place, the knowledge of a unique culture, and the excitement of witnessing new sights together.
Once the problem was started, we wanted more. We quickly developed a philosophy (possibly influenced by wine) to accompany this love of travel. For us, these were the reasons we were doing the right thing. Before I start sharing some of our adventures in various places near and far, I thought it was appropriate to share these ideas.
We aren’t very fancy– It is easier for us to justify a trip when you see how little we actually spend on it. We know how to travel on a budget (we are not strangers to a tent and sleeping bags) and that luxurious amenities are not necessary for us to have a good time. We have both worked very hard to fund these expeditions and do not want to see a dollar go to waste, so many hours are spent searching for the big deals.
The brief and unpredictable nature of life– Dennis’ career being in the emergency services, we are not only made aware of the reality of death (through his patients), but also have a healthy amount of fear, since he is sometimes required to put himself in danger. We understand completely the mindset of “one day I am going to…”, but if you never start crossing things off that list, it becomes tragic. This means live now, because there is no promise of tomorrow.
A reliable forecast of change- In case death wasn’t enough to make you pack your bags, you can always count on circumstances to change—and with them, your plans. Right now, you have a generally good idea of what your life entails, 20 years from now, however, might as well be a different planet. Let’s say you wait. You work to save up for retirement, buy that house, put your kids through college, start your business. After all of these things are done, you begin to plan your long awaited trip. You pull out the “wish list” you made ages ago and begin to make an itinerary…
- Listen to the bells ring at the Notre Dame Cathedral– What if, by this point you have lost your hearing?
- View the breathtaking white cliffs of Dover- What if you have lost your sight?
- Kiss the Blarney stone– This requires climbing many stories of a spiral staircase—a feat tough for me at only 18 years old when I did it.
The major point of this is, if you cannot do these things now, don’t fret over it. Make the best of your situation and do what you can. If you are capable, however, you have no excuse not to try. It is your life. Live it.
Knowledge is power- For every trip we have taken I could fill a book with the things I have learned (either on the trip or in preparation for it). This information is priceless and much more fulfilling than reading about it with no reference or experience to combine with. This isn’t useless stuff either; the things I have learned on trips frequently make my life more enjoyable and easier.
In our years together, Dennis and I have met some criticism. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. In conclusion, however, I would like to settle a few misconceptions.
We have never neglected anything important in favor of our travel (it hasn’t gotten that bad yet). I have had wisdom teeth extracted, our cars get repaired as needed, I am STILL in college, we have started our own photography business, and eat pretty well normally. (Admittedly, the good food normally comes at the grace of our families) Overall, we get the bills paid.
Skeptics have accused us of having an easy life, to be able to afford these trips and memories. To that I say: although our lives have been very enjoyable, nothing has come easy. It all comes back to the first point I made. Hard work and cheap travel. Luxuries are not a priority for us, not just in travel, but at the home. Am I willing to give up 5000 channels on cable to be able to visit California wine country? Absolutely! Did we, at the time we were married, also house two adult roomies in a tight three-bedroom house? You bet, but that afforded us a trip to France! We have made our sacrifices, they are just a bit strange.
Lastly, someone once told us that he was planning to save money for his retirement, be able to afford the lifestyle he wanted including travel, and that when we were older and ready to retire we would have nothing but the bare minimum and will only be able to “sit and play cards all day.” To this, we have agreed that, by the time we are ready to retire… we are going to be so exhausted with living our lives, we will gladly welcome a lazy card-playing retirement. And if, by chance, he is right and we get bored and have no money to go out dancing (or whatever), at least there will be solace in the shelves of photo albums and days worth of travel-videos that we hope to have by then.
I am excited to share some of our travel stories with everyone soon. : )
Originally posted January 30, 2012