“Actually, I think in about 2 years time I’ll be motivated enough to visit (insert amazing travel destination)” – said nobody ever.
Now let’s just re-word that sentence…”Oh, I would LOVE to visit (insert amazing travel destination)!” – said by anyone who has ever dreamt of an overseas adventure.
Aaaand, the way this sentence should actually sound…”Guess what?! I just booked flights to (insert amazing travel destination)!!”.
‘But hang on a minute, what about my job? Or the house? Or most importantly, the money? I don’t have anywhere near enough money to go travelling now OR in the foreseeable future’.
Let’s just pause the story for a minute so I can fill you in on some background info:
1) I had never been overseas before
2) I had never been in conditions colder than about 12 degrees celsius/54 farenheit
3) I had no idea how much a trip like this would cost me
Should I? Can I afford it? How was I going to survive 6 weeks in negative temperature conditions?
So after we chatted about it some more, I told her I would think about it and let her know my answer. [Hang up phone. Drop jaw to the floor]. I then had the next 2 hours at work to mull over the idea in my head, over and over again. Should I? Can I afford it? How was I going to survive 6 weeks in way below minus conditions?! I’m from the tropics for goodness sake. On the plus side, my cousin had done a student exchange in Germany prior and made a lot of friends over there, both Australian and German, so we had a lot of places to stay and locals to travel around with. When I got home from work I blurted it all out to my mum; everything that was on my mind and I wanted her advice. Mum’s always give the best advice, don’t they? By the end of our conversation, my mind was made up. I was going to Europe! The next day I went into the travel agent and booked seats on the same flights as my cousin. Holy shit, I REALLY WAS GOING TO EUROPE! I then spent the next 3 months working my butt off to save as many $$$’s as I could on top of the money I already had (which was pretty much my life savings of 3000-ish dollars from the casual jobs I had had through high school and now uni, just to give you an idea).
The reason I told you this story is because this was the trip that ignited the wanderlust travel bug within me. Since then, I have always been looking for that next big adventure. I’ve wandered to Bali and Cambodia, but it was May of 2014 when I left for the biggest overseas adventure of my life to date with my boyfriend. Since leaving the shores of Aussie-land just over 18 months ago, I have spent 4 months backpacking around South America, three months travelling through Central America, a winter season in Canada and most recently a 3 month road trip adventure in an old motorhome through the western United States with plans of heading back up to Canada for the summer to work on a farm (and who knows after that). I want to tell you that long term travel or a simple overseas holiday getaway is not out of anyone’s reach. It is so, SO do-able and I want to share with you how I did it in the hopes that this will be the kickstart you need to set yourself some goals and make it happen!
So where do you want to go? When I worked at a bar & grill restaurant about 4 years ago I met a girl who started working as a waitress and was from Ecuador. Her and I got on like a house on fire and became really good friends over the year she spent in Australian for a university exchange. The day she left to go back to Ecuador I told her, no scratch that, I PROMISED her that I would be coming to visit her in Quito one day… one day! And so South America had been on the top of my travel radar ever since. Not only did I have a friend in Ecuador, I also had an old exchange student friend from Chile who I could visit too. Not to mention the South American landscapes in general – Machu Picchu, the Amazon… the list goes on. Who wouldn’t want to visit South America?! So what went on between waving my friend good bye in Australia and turning up on her doorstep 4 years later?
Well, in a very tight nutshell so to speak, I completed my three year university degree whilst working casually in hospitality. After graduating from uni, I worked full-time for two years where I continued to work my butt off and save, save, save before finally booking a one-way flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina. When I re-read the above paragraph, it definitely comes across as though I was always determined to tick this goal off and worked at it year in year out. Let me assure you that if this was the case, I would have (or should have) booked that plane ticket a long time ago. Despite my crazy ambitions to jet set half way across the world, I regretfully spent a lot of time doubting that it would ever be possible. There’s no way I could ever save up enough money to fund something like that, right? There was two things that happened that changed my whole outlook and motivated me to get shit done! The first was a motivational workshop my boss at the time had organised for the entire firm to attend. We spent a whole day participating in a number of activities designed to help us work out what our fundamental goals were and realistic ways to achieve them. I vividly remember one activity in particular. We were given a card with 4 blank lines. On each line we had to write down a goal we wanted to achieve and next to it a date we wanted to have the goal achieved by. This is what my card looked like…
I don’t know why exactly, but physically writing these goals down made them very real. I had always had these goals in mind but more often then not they were routinely shoved to the back of the line and not given much thought. After the workshop, I attached my goal card to my car visor which would serve as a constant reminder and keep those goals right up the front in my brain’s chain of thoughts, and I can tell you right now, this was one very effective method of goal setting. Out of the four goals listed above, I managed to achieve all of them, not necessarily at the time I listed but I persisted and it paid off. I made it to South America in May of 2014, I managed to save double of what I wanted by the time I was ready to leave the country, I sold my car in January of 2014 (but had it on the market by September 2013) and I kept up with a healthy food and exercise routine while I was at home in Oz. I wish I could say I have kept up with it since being overseas but I just can’t turn down an indulgence in local cuisine and delicious treats (we only live once right :P). The second thing that inspired me was my sister and her boyfriend who lived out the exact adventure I had been dreaming about. They booked a one-way flight to Chile with the intensions of travelling through South America for 3 months before heading to Canada to work at a ski resort and live out a Canadian winter that most Aussies dream of doing. If MY sister could do it, why the hell couldn’t I? And so it was the combination of both the motivational workshop and my amazing sister that really planted the seed for me to get the ball rolling and turn this dream adventure into a reality!
In the ten months leading up to our departure, I was in serious dollar-saving mode. I even took on a second job at a restaurant to make some extra cash. It was also a good deterrent from the things that had a habit of minimising my savings. If I was working weekends, I couldn’t really be out spending my money on bottomless ciders now could I? It was a good system. The only things left for us to do before leaving the country included:
– Organising travel insurance
– Buying our backpacks and other travel gear
– Research (and daydream at work) all the places we wanted to go and things we wanted to see
– Have an awesome going away party to say good bye to all our friends and family (tears!)
When departure day arrived, and believe me it came around so fast, I could not have been any more excited. We were actually doing this! Hello new seas, new adventures, new memories and new friends. To give you an idea financially, both my boyfriend and I left with about $21,000 each. With this money we were able to backpack through South and Central America for 7 months without working. By no means were we makin’ it rain (splurging on everything) but we never went without anything and travelled very comfortably. By the time we flew out of Mexico and into Canada, we still had between $6,000 – $8,000 each left over. This information is simply to help you estimate a dollar value you may need for whatever wanderlust adventure you have in mind. One of the reasons I held back for so long was because I genuinely had no idea how much an overseas trip such as South America would cost me. And so I was always asking my travelling buddies questions and reading countless blogs for any recommendations on how much I should budget for. I tell ya, it was hard work! So I know how important it is to add in actual dollar figures when discussing all things travel. You are welcome!
So my only questions now is, what are you still doing dreaming about your travelling adventure? Find a piece of paper, grab a pen and write down your goals, no matter how unattainable you think they are. They ARE possible, I promise! Be sure to list a date you want to achieve them by. It doesn’t matter if you don’t succeed by that exact date but it gives you something to work towards. Tell people about them. When you verbalise your goals and write them down, they really do become REAL. Trust me, you will feel all fuzzy inside watching that balance grow. Talk to friends, work mates, grandparents who have travelled (you never know, your grandpa might have some good tales to tell from back in the day). And on that note, please feel free to email ME or comment below with any questions you may have. I am at your service. Consider me your travel advocate, your wanderlust cheerleader!
So here it is, this is exactly how I dreamt about a long-term trip abroad and made it happen! This has without a doubt been the best and most rewarding experience of my life. Travelling immerses you in other cultures, makes you realise what the important things in life are and how little you really need to survive (one 50 litre pack and a 20 litre day bag for me). On top of that I guarantee you will make friends for life and from ALL walks of life. Now tell me, what is stopping you?