Sometimes it might seem I’ve been granted this pass to go party all over the world because of an inheritance, rich partner or an account that fills up when I ask it too. None of this is true. Travelling is not that difficult.
It’s also not that easy, but with a dream, a plan and set priorities it’s possible. I know I sound like a page out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s guide to life (out of touch with reality) but just stay with me.
1.Buy Your First Plane Ticket As Soon As You Make The Decision To Travel
You can talk about travelling all you want but if you don’t take action right away, there will be no motivation. Print out your ticket and pin it to a wall you look at every day. It will be there to remind you not to tell Karen to stuff a corkscrew in her hole when she says you look tired for the fourth time this week. It will be there to motivate you to get up when you’re sick but your boss still wants you to come into work because “Jane was sick too but she is here and working!” [Jane’s a narc]
2. Save Money (duh)- Make Travel Your Everything
You’ll need money, of course. If you are reading this and you don’t have a job, go get a job. If you can’t get a job, then make one. I’m talking to you, Netflix binging couch potato. I’m not talking to someone living in a country where jobs are impossible to obtain, I’m talking to people who sit and say- “I wish I could” when they can.
There’s a difference between deciding to travel the world and sitting at home, drinking and complaining how life is hard and you wish you could travel.
If you have your daily life all set, it’s time to start saving. You can do the usual save-10%-of-your-paycheck bullshit or you can do that plus sacrifice some things.
Eat at home.
Next time Jessica wants to check out the new tapas bar tell her you don’t want to pay 40$ for two pieces of cheese and old olives, or just say you’re busy. You’ll have real tapas in Barcelona.
Drink at home.
Do you really need to pay 15$ for a glass of wine? Or do you want to have domestic Chilean wine in Chile?
Don’t buy clothes anymore.
I don’t mean walk around naked, if you really need something, buy it in an outlet. If you’re one of those that will pay a fortune for a t-shirt because it’s a brand name you will have to let go of your vanity and get over yourself.
Sure, sometimes, wearing the same clothes for a fuckin year gets old but you know what also gets old?
Being 30 years old and asking for permission to go eat.
Get a side gig. Or a few.
I had my full-time job, but I also had a staffing agency, taught Croatian, worked events as a server, bartender even a busser, handed out flyers, ghostwrote articles online, was a bridesmaid for hire, transcribed audio files, played a brand ambassador, was part of marketing research for cable tv and a bakery. Thought I could teach yoga but I realized I can’t teach yoga. I was offered 500$ to yell at a guy once, but that seemed too sketchy.
You’d be surprised the amount of side cash you can make if you just go to the Craigslist gigs section and filter through all the prostitution ones. ( I mean you can do that too, but try to stay away.)
I would find the gig offered, do some background research to make sure it’s a legit offer, let everyone know where I’m going, and I never had anything bad happen to me.
People often want to work as little as possible, I do too, but to work as little as possible you have to throw in some 18 hour days because you weren’t born rich. Unless you were, you lucky bastard.
3. Do your research.
Making a decision to see an unknown part of the world is intense enough, but seeing it without doing any research about the place you are visiting is just an extra added intensity no one really needs.
What are the safe neighbourhoods in Bogota?
What is the tipping culture in Prague?
What is offensive in Japan?
What outlets do countries use? (Why can’t we all just agree on an outlet???)
These are the questions you need to know the answers to before going unless you’re like me three years ago and your thing is to just see how it goes (but trust me, I do my research now).
4. Shots (not of tequila)
For South America and Asia we needed: Yellow fever, Typhoid, Tetanus, Hep A, Hep B and my personal favourite – Japanese Encephalitis – a disease spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, confusion, and difficulty moving. Symptoms that develop later include swelling around the brain and coma.
Also, we learned that FUCKIN POLIO still exists and that we have to get a year supply of malaria pills to drink every day and 2 weeks after our trip.
Thank fuck we went for this consultation so early because there are shots you have to get two or three times and schedule in advance.
Even though a lot of shots were covered by OHIP (thank you Canada), it still all came to 800$ per person.
If you live in the Toronto area, I highly suggest Travel Med. They are nice, professional and give you solid advice. (I’m not sponsored by them)
It’s time to let go of your stuff.
Make a packing list [click here to download the minimalist packing list] and put the things you’ll need for your trip aside.
Then, create a safe box (one box where you’ll put things you just absolutely can’t let go), give that box to someone to keep for you and sell/donate everything else.
Do whatever you need to. I hugged my shoes, kissed a coat and thought I was going to miss them, but until right now, for this post, I did not think of any of my old stuff. Let them go, be free.
6. Get Your Paperwork in Order.
Unless you want to be lost in a gipsy neighbourhood in Vienna (happened to me) get all your Visas and copies of passports.
Write down the phone numbers of the people you can call if your phone gets stolen.
Write down the numbers – and addresses of your embassies in your destinations.
Write down your accommodation numbers and addresses.
7. Plan – B
Not the birth control (do have that handy too) but think of the what – ifs.
If you spend more money than you planned; How can you save money while travelling?
Hostels: You can always go to a hostel and work for a bit, they like foreigners to get involved and you can get free accommodation or food. Just be careful not to take local jobs away.
If your stuff gets lost or stolen
Have a piece of paper with numbers of people you can count on back home.
Give copies of your cards and documents to a trusted person so you can access the numbers if you need to.
Try to divide your money into more cards, cash and never carry all at once. If you are on the bus – keep your valuables in front of you, or under your clothes.
Tape them to yourself if you need to.
Practice staying calm under pressure – maybe work in the service industry for a bit. You have to have the patience of a saint and skin tougher than sandpaper to work as a server in North America (shout out to that one lady from Oakville, Ontario who called the cops on me because I refused to move people from the shade so she could sit there). It comes in handy when you travel.
8. Time To Stop Thinking – Just Go
If I was waiting for a sexy bank account I’d still be planning to go on my first trip. The idea of travelling the world gets scarier the closer it gets. Discipline your mind to think it’s excited, not nervous.
It’s scary to go to the unknown, it’s scarier to wake up and realize you’ve lived a life of comfort and boredom.