1. Student loans. Back in my day, student loans were an anomaly, now it’s normal protocol. Unless being a doctor, lawyer or engineer is your goal, save the liberal arts degree by experiencing art and culture firsthand – by traveling. A $30,000 loan equates to $45,000 with interest.
2. Credit cards are money. No, credit cards are an electronic figment of our imagination. Essentially you are purchasing products with ghost money and the added bonus is 18.5% interest per year. Credit cards aren’t useless, but too often they are factored into a person’s income.
3. You must buy real estate in order to be whole and solvent. Many of my friends purchased real estate. I suspect it’s the nesting instinct to procreate and plant on one spot. Nothing wrong with that, but if traveling is your desire, pouring money into square footage you probably don’t need, on top of $10,000 in renovations won’t get you any closer to Shanghai. Renting a swanky apartment is just as fulfilling and frees up money to save towards a trip.
4. You don’t own a BMW? Due to slick car commercials, the right kind of car melded with status eons ago. Maintenance costs $300 to $400 a year, gas ranges from $60 to $80 per month, and a car payment is well, not cheap. With the advent of carbon impact, car cooperatives are growing in numbers. Many employers offer discounted monthly bus passes. Furthermore, architects are building mixed use (live and shop) developments in droves, eliminating the need for a vehicle.
5. Live large. A few years ago I was laid off from a job and managed to collect unemployment insurance. I’m not trying to illustrate that I was a lazy malcontent on the dole, but simply pointing out the difference in my income. I was forced to live on less money, yet as the months went by my contentment level spiked. I lost weight, started writing again, and felt happier overall. Consuming more to maintain a standard doesn’t mean automatic happiness. If you live at your means, traveling frequently might become reality.
6. Any job is better than no job. I use to follow this motto to the letter, until one day I woke up with shooting pain in my right hip. After surmising it was all psychosomatic, it was time to tweak that philosophy. In North America, a person’s livelihood is tied to real estate, a car, material goods – you see where this is going. How about selecting a career that offers satisfaction and then build a lifestyle around it? If traveling is your passion, devise career choices that involve trotting the globe.
7. The 40-hour work week, and here’s your 2 weeks vacation. I’m being conservative, many people work 50 or 60 hours per week. When France shifted to the 35-hour work week studies showed no decrease in productivity. By law, at least 15 nations in the European Union must grant a minimum of 4 weeks vacation time. Not accrued or obtained through bloodletting, but routine. Don’t know about you, but I received a measly 3 weeks after 5 years of service. My peers relay a common story, working long hours is expected, even rewarded. There goes my sanity and 4 weeks in Spain.
8. Have kids early. A very sensitive subject. I included this because of the numerous comments I read from parents on other travel blogs who want to travel, yet feel trapped. I adore kids to the tenth degree, but mommy culture is prominent in North America. In that vein, it’s clearly a personal choice when to have children. I think it comes down to priorities, if being parents and traveling is paramount to your life, don’t fret. Check out The Wide Wide World or From Here to Uncertainty. Families do travel together; it can be done.
9. Work like a dog until retirement. In North America, retirement is a panicked situation. We must be productive in the earning years in order to have enough funds for old age. Who has time to enjoy traveling? I introduce International Living, a website devoted to overseas properties and an alternative option for retirement. They offer a free daily postcard e-letter aimed at retirees seeking desirable and affordable properties.
10. Buying stuff is good for the economy. This I can relate to 100%. Sometimes a weekend isn’t complete unless I’ve purchased something. If I haven’t bought anything, it feels odd. Think of it this way, buying stuff may boost the economy, but it’s bad for the individual. Christine Gilbert’s post on the unexpected costs of owning things conveys this articulately. The impact of the consumerist lifestyle adds up. Increased debt, societal pressure to keep with the Joneses, decreased value of the goods purchased, the stress of maintaining your stuff, are a few factors to consider. What you don’t spend on stuff could be added to a travel fund.
Source: Interesting Thing of the Day