Time, Travel and Priorities

Why don’t more people make the time for long term travel? I have taken a half dozen trips that were at least 2 months long and one that lasted for 6  months. 90% of my friends and family have never taken more than 2 weeks off at once. The average American is lucky to get 2 weeks off a year. 

In the United States there are two times in our lives where we are more likely to indulge in long term travel. When we are just out of college or high school and when we retire. There’s a 40 year gulf inbetween where we are so focused on work, that we don’t do much of anything else. 

We spend all of our time making money so we can buy cars, houses and a thousand other things. We put money in our 401K’s for retirement, if there’s anything left over. Though many people start saving for retirement as soon as they start working. If you are 65 years old and have a $1M in the bank, you could travel for the rest of your life. If you live that long and have good health… My retirement plan is to not retire.

I started traveling in my late 20’s and as I met retiree’s on my journeys there is one thing I heard from them over and over again. “I wish I had traveled when I was your age.” The problem with putting our lives on hold until we retire is that it’s likely we’ll not be in good enough physical condition to do many of the things we’d like to do. 

It’s not about the money, it’s quite easy to travel through most of the world on a $1,000 a month budget. As long as one’s expenses are low, it’s not that difficult to save up enough money to go have a 6 month adventure. Unless you are in debt or have other financial commitments like kids. For the rest of us, if vagabonding around the word is appealing to you, there is no excuse for not making the time to do it. 

I’m 48 and about to go backpacking around Southeast Asia for 6 months. Luckily, my health and physical condition are great, I can still do all the things I want to do. There’s lots of trekking, swimming, scuba diving and motorcycling in my near future. 

I can’t count the number of times someone has said to me, “I wish I could do that!” You can do it, if you make it a priority. Most people have been suckered into thinking they can’t get off the hamster wheel, they are afraid of employment gaps or that they’ll not be able to get a job when they come home. After all the layoffs and restructures, I thought that folks would understand that there is no such thing as job security. 

Why not plan for a travel sabbatical, save up for it and go. Take control over your life and your time. Do something you’ve always dreamed about doing, while you can still enjoy it.