I”m not shy about giving out details about my personal budget, because, believe it or not, just like you, I had to work for my money. I still work for money and I will continue to work for money.
So many people have it wrong. It’s not all about the money. Admittedly, I drained my bank account in order to finance my traveling lifestyle. Sure, I’ve created many a marvelous memory by not working and spending money, but that’s not the only cost to consider when choosing a traveling lifestyle. The other costs include:
1. Physical- This year alone, I’ve done so much flying that I’m exhausted. I’m truly suffering from burn out. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t enjoy flying off to new places, emerging from the plane bright eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for adventure, but it leaves your body physically exhausted. Jet lag is a serious concern. When I left Australia earlier this year, ready to engage in a 4 flight, 23 hour fly-a-thon back to the U.S., I left on Wednesday morning, February 29th, leap year, traveled for 24 hours straight and landed in L.A. Wednesday morning, February 29th. Believe me when I say it took WEEKS for my body to adjust to THAT time travel!
My good friend the flight attendant is constantly on the go as well. One time I asked her what day it really is for her because of all of her traveling and time zone differences. She opted for “no comment,” saying that trying to figure that out would drive her insane. It would drive anyone insane!
The road burns your body out. Toting a 50 pound backpack after a shitty night’s sleep in a hostel isn’t for the faint of heart. Trying to sleep when others are partying is even worse. I combat this by trying to maintain a relatively normal sleep schedule (by normal I mean at LEAST seven hours/24 hour period), eating healthy and maintaining a healthy attitude.
2. Emotional- I’ve gotten good, I mean REALLY good at saying goodbye. That doesn’t mean I like to say goodbye, but I have to force myself in order to move on. Luckily it’s not goodbye, just see you later. Part of my goals when traveling the world have been to create contacts all over the world. As I start on that goal, I often grow close to and have to say goodbye to many people that I love. I love their generosity, their kind hearts, their laugh and their unique life perspectives.
I also have to deal with feelings of homesickness. Like every traveler on the road, the pangs of homesickness haunt you when you least expect it. You miss birthdays, graduation parties, engagement schindigs, holidays, you name it: any occasion where the family gets together to make mirth and merriment, it seems you’re sleeping in a tent 3,000 miles away. These are the sacrifices we make.
3. Mental- It’s no secret travel changes you. I’m dealing with this right now. I’m trying to hash out how my life goal’s have changed, how everything I’ve been spoon-fed growing up doesn’t exactly jive with my old interests, now that I’ve seen how other people live successful, happy lives alternate to the “American Dream.” I am dealing with how these differences are changing me as a person, how to reconnect with others who still might subscribe to my “old way” (not wrong, by any means, just confusing and different), and trying to explain my “gypsy” lifestyle to my parents. It’s an on-going struggle. I have to be an ambassador for my life’s decisions. If I won’t stand up for me, who will?
As a good friend told me, luckily you don’t have to figure it all out today, or tomorrow. The questions I’ve been asking myself are some huge, philosophical, transcendental questions about life, questions people don’t often ask themselves until their midlife crises. Thinking and obsessing over my observations and how they will manifest themselves in my future is unhealthy mentally. I am prepared to think of life as a mysterious journey, and although I can’t possibly perceive my future right now, I think that through travel, my future will be a brighter place. Growing pains.
I will leave you with an Anthony Bourdain quote, one that describes how I’m feeling in this moment. Just because you can’t strike gold every day while blazing the trail:
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”
— Anthony Bourdain
5 comments on “The cost of travel besides MONEY”
Really enjoyed reading this, especially the quote. You’ve spoken about things here that I think about a lot myself and that made me feel really connected to this piece:) Very nice!
Thank you! I feel like this is the most honest I’ve been about traveling in a while. My trip home back to Chicago has given me the unique perspective and insights about the “harder” aspects of traveling. It can’t all be fun and games. I appreciate all of these realizations as tools of learning. I’m glad this spoke to you!
I also felt very connected to your thoughts and writing! You hit lots of points on the head! Sometimes I wonder why I travel and choose this lifestyle because it’s not always the smooth, fun ride people think it is! But, I know that all of the hardships are there for a reason and it only makes us stronger. Weigh out the negatives with lots of positives and keep on truckin!!!! Where are you headed next?
Always gotta keep truckin’! I’m heading back to Hawaii to do a management training program for the eco hostel I was staying at for the past two months! I’m really excited!
So so true, no one ever discusses the mental and emotional cost of traveling,