Many people have asked me why I travel, how I do it, when’s the best time to start traveling, and how to start traveling. Honestly, these questions are usually difficult for me to answer, because everyone has different ways of preparing for their travels. Plus, everyone has different reasons why they want to travel. If you ask me, the advice I’ll give to you would be something I’d give to a younger me.
Before I knew how much I love to travel, I did all the things my family wanted me to do. Study. Graduate. Work. I did all of them…with no regrets. College was one of the best things that happened to me.
For many, going to college is just way more expensive than what they can afford. I had financial struggles while I was in college. The journey was tough. Later in life, I met many successful entrepreneurs and full-time travelers who never went to college and still do well in life.
Even so, everyone has different ways of achieving success. Most successful entrepreneurs didn’t take shortcuts, because there’s no such a thing as an overnight success. When my brother got the opportunity to help his ex-boss start another business, Mum told him that he can do whatever he wants later in life as long as he completes his Bachelor’s Degree first. If you, too, have the opportunity to study to a higher level, don’t waste it. Do it, even if you wish to travel.
Whether it’s a 2-week trip or one without an expiry date, I encourage you to find ways to help you travel even when you have very little money saved up. There are so many testimonials out there about people traveling with very little money, or without money at all. If they can do it, so can you!
Although it’s possible to travel even with no dime in your pocket, I recommend that you are always prepared for your trip, be it short or long. Bear in mind that things don’t always go your way, no matter how prepared you are. That’s why it’s important to have some things planned out beforehand.
To those who wish to travel (and to the younger me), I’d say…
Start saving your money
If only I knew I was going to love traveling as much as I do now, I would’ve saved more money for my trips. What’s done is done. I can do myself a favor by continue saving up my money for my upcoming trips.
If you’re still in college, start saving now. If you’re already going around places, try minimizing your spending. That way you can learn how to budget and save money. You don’t know what the future has in store for you. Maybe you’ll even start nurturing the same kind of travel lust I have now. At least when you’re ready, you already have some money saved up for you to start your journey, even if it means traveling to the country just next door.
If you’re a parent who likes to travel, or is always taking your kids for vacations, you may want to save money for them, too. If you promote traveling to your kids from a young age, they’ll likely grow up to become travelers like you as well. They might even be the next top-notch travel blogger. Who knows?
How to save money for your travels?
There are so many ways to do that. Whether you have a small or a big paycheck, you can save for your travels if you really want to. It’s a lot easier for young travelers to travel on a budget compared to the older ones, since they’re usually more flexible about where they’ll eat or sleep. Thanks to great cheap flights and hotels available today, the young and old can both enjoy traveling on a budget.
Another great way to save money for your travels is to take advantage of great travel deals. Smart people always buy things at discounted prices whenever possible. The minute you find a good deal that you really need, take it!
Other ways to save money for your travels include reducing your meat consumption, taking smaller food portion, cooking at home, eating cheaper meals, not spending money on unhealthy or unnecessary things, selling your stuff, taking public transport and many more. Even while you travel, you can save money! Read these articles on how to get started.
How much should you save?
That depends on the period of your travel. If you’re going to travel longer, then you’ll need to save more money. If you’re planning on taking a 1-week vacation, make sure you’ve planned out your budget and what you’re going to do for your travels. Planning a trip isn’t as difficult as before with the rise of travel blogs today. You can access most of the information over the internet – for free!
Do it while you’re young (or while you can!)
Here’s why: When you’re young, you’re likely free from commitments. You might already have one: your studies. Maybe you got married right after college. Who knows?
The truth is we always hold responsibilities, no matter what age. Whether you’re already married, still studying in college, or have been working since you left high school, it’s never too late for you to travel. All you have to do is take chances.
The common challenge is many people are too afraid to do that because of the conditions they’re in. I used to think that traveling was expensive, but now that I know it doesn’t have to be, I began my journey and never stopped ever since.
Traveling while you’re still young is also a lot easier than when traveling at a much older age as we tend to be more flexible about where we stay, what we eat, how far or how long we’ll travel.
It’s okay to be afraid, but don’t let it stop you
Okay, I won’t tell you not to be afraid, because you have every right to feel what you feel – and fear is a human feeling. That’s pretty normal! What you can do is challenge your fear and overcome it. You can do it, but before you can overcome it, you need to face it first.
Remember the first time you learned how to ride a bicycle, or on the first day you took your driving test? I’m sure you had butterflies in your stomach, but you felt great once the whole thing is over. Same goes for traveling. You won’t know until you try it!
Have a flexible plan
It’s awesome when our travels don’t have an expiry date. As much as I like to follow the flow, I also always make sure that I know what I want to do during my travels. From where I’d go to what I want to see, the list is endless! I don’t plan out every single of them, though. I don’t like to have a fixed itinerary. Having one makes me feel stressed out when I fail to follow it.
It’s important that you enjoy your travels. I recommend you to plan one or two activities and do the rest in your own time and at your own pace. You’ll be surprised how many fun things (and awesome people!) that might come along the way.
Take it slow
How many countries have you been to? Did you go to so-and-so? You should’ve gone there!
These are some of the common things other travelers have always said to me. It didn’t bother me very much, but it got me thinking. I may have felt a little left out at first, the fact that I didn’t travel as much as they did, or experience the things they had — but that’s totally fine. There’s no rush! I didn’t realize this only until recently.
If you save and spend your money wisely, you can travel longer. Your travel plans become more flexible when you have more time to spend.
Take more time to get to know a new country better. Just like getting to know someone better takes time, getting to know another country better takes time, too.
Don’t race with other travelers. You don’t have to. Why? Travel is for you after all. Take your time, and experience what fascinates you the most instead of blindly following what others like. At the end of the day, it’s your experience that only you can enjoy, cherish and remember!
Build connections and expand it
Yes. Expand it as wide as possible. As you go further, you’ll meet more people and establish more connections with people from all over the world. I’ve already met several interesting people on the road, from actors to influential businessmen. You never know – behind these encounters could lie great opportunities. Don’t limit the mileage of your journey. The reason why you never really knew them is because you haven’t met them yet!
Don’t be afraid to approach people. Sometimes all you have to do is say ‘Hi.’ You’ll be surprised to meet so many nice people on the road. I already did, and it’s hard for me to repay their kindness. You see, I didn’t keep all of the contacts I made during my journey. When on the road, make more effort to get to know people. That’s also what traveling is about – connecting with people.
Your bag is heavy because you’ve been packing everything you think you’ll be using on your trip. Then, you realized that you never needed them at all. Even if you did use all those things once in awhile, you thought maybe you should’ve carried fewer things as you didn’t even need half of the things you had.
I’m not telling you that you should pack light even though I personally think that minimalist travel is the way to go. Evaluate your travel needs, the purpose of your travels, and how long you’ll be traveling. The answers to these questions will help you determine what matter the most to you, and what you wish to achieve from all those efforts you put into your travels.
For example: You plan to travel to Southeast Asia for the first 6 months, before spending another 6 months in Europe. In this case, you don’t have to pack warm clothes just yet. Instead, pack lightweight clothes that are suitable for the hot weather, such as singlets, t-shirts and shorts. If you’re going to camp, but not so often, rent a tent instead. Most national parks offer tent rentals. Other essentials can also be bought at your destination. In Southeast Asia, things are a lot cheaper than anywhere else.
What you can also do is buy a small bag. That way you won’t be tempted to pack more things. If you need more space next time, give away things you no longer need.
Be brave towards changes
There are many things that happened in my life that have shaped me. Every year, I am a different person. Some things don’t change. I haven’t forgotten who I really am, I still keep in touch with my family and close friends who love me unconditionally, or the lessons learned when I was busy finding myself.
When traveling, I always follow the flow — but with some basic things planned ahead. I make my plans as flexible as possible. From my own experience, travel moments are the most memorable when they’re full of surprises. In travel, surprises are usually not like birthday parties. You never really know what’s ahead of you until you experience it.
I can still remember the time when my aunt and I went around a small village to take some pictures and then ended up in someone’s house for Christmas. Even though we barely knew them, they took us to their homestay and introduced us to a really beautiful cave – a hidden gem indeed! This is the kind of moment that can possibly happen to us when we keep our plans flexible, and they’re something you’ll never forget!
Don’t just dream it, make it happen
I have to admit that I was a very curious girl. So curious that many years ago, I snuck backstage to have a closer look at young Bayern Munich players, which was also the day I met Thomas Mueller, a young German football player whom no one had heard about at the time, who then became the best footballer many years later.
As sneaky and adventurous I was when I was a lot younger, I am not as brave as I used to be. That’s definitely something I aim to improve every day, and I believe traveling can help me find that part of me that I feel is missing today. As a girl, I also had big dreams. I wanted, and still want to be a part of big changes that can help make our world a better place to live in.
There were many things I would’ve done back then, but sometimes circumstances in life prevent people from doing what they want. Sometimes we just change our mind, because whatever we’re after no longer serves us. While it’s hard for me to create opportunities for others now, I strive to create opportunities for myself first, and traveling is one of the ways to do it.
Be a go-getter. If you want something, get it. If you dream of an education outside of a classroom environment, travel. If you dream of meeting more people, travel. That way, you’ll never end up asking yourself the “What if” question. Don’t be afraid to take chances.
Are you inspired to make your dream come true? I hope these words are helpful for you. I’m glad that I’m still curious about the world and continue to hunt for whatever that makes me happy. For all travelers out there, young and old, my final advice to you is don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. If traveling the world is your dream, follow it, because you never know where it might lead you. Happy travels! 🙂