I better start off this article by saying that I am a special breed of human. I am the type who has her own opinion and has never been influenced much by what anybody else thought or did to become “popular”.
To be part of the “in-crowd”, or whatever the cool kids might call it these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked to be liked (who doesn’t?) and I care about what other people think and feel about me, but NOT if that judgment is based purely upon my appearance or how much ‘cool stuff’ I can show off.
Basically, I won’t let anyone tell me what I am supposed to spend my money on. Not in the past, not in the present, and not in the future.
Are you embarrassed because I dress in self-made clothes? You believe you cannot be seen with me since I don’t hop around on Nike or Adidas sneakers? Too bad for you. Your loss.
See, I have always known I didn’t care about expensive brand clothes, the hippest hairdo, the newest video games (video games at all for that matter), or whatever else kids seemed to be great spending their money at during my high school days.
And if we go even further back in time to when I was a primary school kid with the modern-day equivalent of 50 cents allowance per week, I’d be sure to think twice before buying that piece of candy. 5 cents for a gum drop? Hmm, let me think about that. This is my pocket money you are talking about!
Needless to say, as I grew older, people around me quickly developed the idea that I was terribly cheap. 😉
People also wondered why I spent all my time working my b*** off if I never had the time or the urge to buy anything anyway. I have to admit that for the longest time not even I had an answer to that question. I mean, working 3 jobs while being a full-time college student? Had I lost my mind? Could I really not think of a better way to spend the little free time I had left between lectures, at night, and on the weekend? Why exactly was I working so hard?
The answer spontaneously presented itself when I got the opportunity to move to Argentina for a 6-month university exchange program.
“A 1000 dollars for a plane ticket? Sure thing! When am I leaving??”
Not the slightest bit of doubt beforehand or regret afterwards. I still believe that experience was worth every penny it cost me. And then some.
Since that faithful day in 2006, when I set foot in the magnificent city of Buenos Aires, I knew nothing would ever be the same again. And boy, was I right. Although initially overwhelmed by this feeling that would inevitably cause me to shake up my whole life, my priorities have been pretty clear since then. And I can tell you it’s NOT money.
Upon graduation, I turned my back on some of the most amazing job offers with such ease that it even got my own head spinning. Wasn’t this what I had wanted all my life? What I had worked so hard for? A big and important career in a globally influential firm?
Apparently not. Instead, I became obsessed with travel.
Now, 10 years later, I still couldn’t tell you which path I am supposed to take, but there is one thing I know 100% sure. Travel is the only thing I have never and probably will never hesitate to spend money on. Taking a day trip to the beach? Count me in. A long weekend away ‘just because’? Totally. Want to go camping and hike your way up some mountain I’ve never heard of? Sounds great! Always wanted to go to Timbuktu and looking for company? Sure, I’ll tag along!
Admittedly, I am a bit of a lost cause when it comes to travel. The feeling of connection to my ‘roots’ has been lost years ago, I don’t have any possessions or responsibilities that require my attention, and there are probably a million places on earth I would love to call “home” for a while.
But the point is, no matter what your personal situation, no matter where you go, and no matter how long (or short) your holiday is: traveling will ALWAYS be worth it.
Here’s a number of reasons why I encourage everyone to spend money on travel:
[By no means a comprehensive list, but hopefully a convincing one all the same! ]
1. Travel liberates you (temporarily) from your duties and responsibilities
Whether you travel around the corner, or all the way to another continent: traveling will allow you to “get out”. Away from the routine of every day life, without having to worry about work, deadlines, bills, laundry, or other tedious (household) tasks.And whether you have two days, 3 weeks, 4 months, or even a whole year off, you can use that time freely to grab that book you’ve been meaning to read, visit that museum that has been on your to-do list for decades, or finally make that safari you’ve been dreaming of forever.
[random examples, anything will do ]
2. Travel has a relaxing and recharging effect
As a direct result of number 1, travel relaxes your mind.
In turn, it gives you the opportunity to (subconsciously) recharge your battery for another year of hard work or study. I’d say that’s worth a buck or two!
I mean, how could we possibly put a price tag on peace of mind? 😉
3. Traveling is fun!
Oh, please. Does this point really need any explanation? There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that anyone and everyone can come up with something they enjoy doing, somewhere outside the safety of their own homes. Don’t try to tell me otherwise!
4. Travel teaches you more than any educational institution ever will
Although “having fun” would probably be considered reason enough – if not the main reason – for most people to spend their money on traveling, in reality there is so much more to it than that. In fact, I believe that travel is the most enriching experience we can expose ourselves to.
I believe so strongly in the positive effects of travel, that if I had the power, I’d personally bring broader horizons to each and every soul walking this earth’s surface. Because travel opens the mind for different opinions. Changes perspective. Shows new views. Guides us into unexpected ways. Provides beautiful insights. And photos. 😉
But most of all, traveling teaches patience and respect. Patience with yourself, and respect for others. Trust me, there is no better way to learn how to be alone, gain (self) confidence, confront your fears, or wrestle through some past issues than by traveling. You can travel far and wide, close to home, alone, or in good company. The positive effects will be noticeable. [Although the effects will be mind-blowingly strong for solo travelers.]
And who knows? You might learn a language! Or two!
As I am not a psychologist – although I would love to be one day – I won’t go into the details of the process of self-reflection, or the wonderful workings of talking to strangers. At least not in this post. What I will say is the following. Without a doubt, no matter how smooth or bumpy the road, you will become a better version of yourself. Wiser. Stronger. Calmer. Happier.
5. Travel opens your eyes: the importance and impact of perspective
Did I mention that travel shows you the really important things in life? Oh yes, I think I touched upon the little phenomenon called “perspective” before. I cannot stress this point enough. Perspective is quite possibly the GREATEST ASSET to your understandings of the world and what truly matters in life. I can tell you it tremendously influenced my own personal happiness.
If I were to go into the ‘why and how’ of the above statement, this would truly become a never-ending article. For now, you’ll just have to believe me when I say that travel makes you realise that happiness does not lie in the ginormous television – Flat, LCD, HD, LED, excuse me?! – screen you just bought. The newest model of the most intelligent smartphone you just exclusively got your hands on. The biggest luxury vehicle. Or the fastest sports car.
“Marly, you’ve actually never owned any of those things, so what would you know?” Fair enough. Point taken.
What I do know, however, is that television generally makes you anything but smarter, smart phones are nothing but extremely addictive, big SUVs will drain your wallet on taxes and fuel – not to mention earth’s natural resources – and super fast cars are only good for getting yourself into trouble with the police.
[Unless you live in Germany, of course, where one can still get a kick out of stamping the pedal to the metal.]
So why not buy a plane ticket instead? You should give it a try!
6. Travel has the highest ROI available to market
“Why would I spend money on traveling if I got all that I need right here?” Easy. Because travel is priceless.
Sort of anyway. Just like anything else in life it comes with a price tag, but travel is worth every penny you can spend on it. If not for any of the reasons mentioned above, take this one into consideration: Travel has the highest return on investment you can possibly imagination. Without depreciation. Or the need for replacement.
Huh? That’s right. Upgrades and extensions are always welcome, a.k.a. more travel (!), but no one will ever be able take a travel experience away from you. It won’t break. It won’t get stolen. And if the tint ever fades out, you will have photos and souvenirs to revive its vibrant colours.
Besides, travel memories will only become worth more over time, not less.
For one, because people have a natural tendency to believe that ‘everything was better in the past’. 😉
Don’t ask me why, the human brain happens to work that way for some of us. Better yet though, travel is a one-time expense for a lifetime of repeated joy. At any given time you can think back on a travel adventure – as in: day dream your heart out (!) – and completely re-live that experience. The discoveries made, the spontaneous talks with strangers, and the smiles or even the tears shared. Let enough time go by and even the (potential) disasters turn into funny anecdotes!
Give it a shot. Any family vacations, road trips, or romantic getaways to ever so fondly look back on? Probably didn’t take you long to come up with one of those scenarios. Now check your face. See? I bet you are wearing a smile.
Yay for an investment with positive dividend!
And finally, – if you still needed one – here’s the bonus: the older you become, the more you’ll start to romanticise the past, your youth, and childhood memories.
So… Get out there and make some memories!
7. There is nothing to lose, but a great deal to gain!
Now for the sake of this article, let’s assume that my arguments have convinced you of the beauty and benefits of traveling. [Hurray!]
“Alright! I get it! I want to go out and explore! But… how could I ever with all the stuff that I have going on?”
[My answer to this question has always been simple.]
“What do you mean, how? Just pack a bag and go!”
“Yeah right. Easy for you to say, you have nothing to lose!”
True. In am in the privileged situation of being able to pick up and leave whenever I please. But even if you do [have something to lose], there are plenty of ways around barriers that often times we only throw up ourselves in order to convince us that we can’t do something.
Ask your boss for extra vacation days this year. Combine several years of vacation credit. Request for unpaid leave. File the paperwork for an official sabbatical (I’ve heard that’s possible and legal in certain countries!). Does he or she say no? At least you can rest assured that you’ve tried everything in your power. Take however many days you do have and make the most of them!
[Or if nothing else: QUIT. Is the job really worth that much to you? Think you can’t get any other job or even the same one (!) when you return? In other words, are you sure you are not just using it as an excuse?]
Rent out your apartment for the period you’re away. If you have pets that you love, hire a professional house sitter. Young children? Take advantage now, while you’re not yet breaking the law by keeping them out of school! Older children? Give them the experience of a lifetime and ask for special permission to home school.
See? For every problem a solution. Nothing to lose, yet so very much to gain. The world is in your hands!
I’ll leave you with the two things that always keep me going.
1. “Carpe Diem”
[As a direct consequence of Memento Mori. Life is short, make the most of it!!!]
2. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”
[I am great at doubting myself. But if I haven’t tried, how will I ever know?]