For the last 40 years I’ve been addicted to international travel. In fact, twice I’ve taken jobs that called for extensive international travel. One of those jobs was with a company based in Redding, England. The other job was based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Many people complain that they hate travel. Different bed every night. Only a phone call or Skype call to keep in touch with their loved ones. They worry about what they will do if they need a medical doctor. It goes on and on. Even though I understand those issues, I’ve never found them to be a problem.
People often say they would like to travel but just don’t have the money for it. They think it costs a lot to travel. I’ve always found that it costs a lot to stay in one place.
The key issue in traveling successfully, then, is to embrace the right attitude and to act in accordance with that attitude. In this series, I’ll describe that attitude. I’ll talk about the specific issues I face on a daily basis and how I deal with them.
While traveling – and I travel slowly – I do far more than see the sights and meet new people. I have the time to work on profit-making ventures. Interestingly, I earn more money now than when I lived at home. I find the time to read. In fact, I read two books last month. Before I left on this trip, I had not read two books in two years.
Like everyone else, I have to look after my health and safety. But that has not proven to be an onerous task. Once you take the right steps, you will find that it is all quite manageable.
I consider myself a budget traveler. That doesn’t mean that I am broke but it doesn’t mean I have money to throw around either. I’ve found that I can live well enough on $3,000 Canadian a month. I’ve even been able to pay off some debts with that sort of income. The trick, then, is to get that money.
I travel alone. That is not by choice but by necessity. If I were to wait for someone else to join me on my travels, I would still be sleeping in my own bed in Victoria, Canada. Few people are willing to do what it takes to travel. It’s not a matter of making sacrifices; it’s a matter of making adjustments.
One of the most dramatic adjustments I made was the switch from feeling lonely on my journeys to feeling alone. Those two are not the same at all. When I travel with someone else, I must necessarily adjust my schedule and agenda to suit the other person but at least I have the comfort of camaraderie. In my case, it wasn’t worth the price. I’ve simply learned to accept that I am alone without feeling a void. This is probably the most challenging adjustment you need to make to enjoy extended travels in foreign lands where you find few other native English speakers.
A second major adjustment is learning to live in the present moment. Nearly all of us live in the future and the past. In work, we plan our days and live through those plans. Since our environments our familiar, we don’t focus on them. I’ve learned to live in each moment as it comes. When I see a beautiful sight, I tell myself that. And when I am lost and tired, I live inside the moment of being lost and tired. The trick is to live inside these moments without undue focus on addressing them.
A third major adjustment was learning to live with uncertainty. I’m often lost. It’s not unusual for me to see the sun begin to set and I don’t have a place to sleep. Many times I’ve run low on money and could not find an ATM. Uncertainty is inherent in an unplanned schedule. Most travelers program out that uncertainty to the greatest extent possible by buying package tours. Although I do that myself, I’ve developed a talent for tolerating high levels of uncertainty and doing it with equanimity. It requires a lot of time and effort to reprogram oneself to live with uncertainty and to do so peacefully.
If you are interested in traveling the world, have a limited budget, and are in good health, you’ll follow this series with excitement.
If you are like me and are already doing this, please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear about your adventures!
The Golden Lions Roundabout in Sihanoukville – By Jan Wall – All Rights Reserved