What are you waiting for?
According to Mark Twain “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
That’s a pretty beautiful attitude to have towards life and one that I try to embrace. It’s important to work hard, but it’s also important to dream big. If you’re in a job you love, then you are already ahead of the game. I love my jobs, but I also crave getting away and seeing how the rest of the world lives. And more importantly, how they eat.
The purpose of this blog is to show you pictures about food and life around the world and get you excited enough to do it yourself.
The most common question I get asked is the general “How do you do it?”
First of all, you have to really want it. Set a goal for yourself. For example– a year from now, I will have $3,000 dollars saved up for a trip. Maybe that doesn’t sound like that much money, or maybe it sounds like a huge amount. It doesn’t really matter what your income is. I don’t make very much money, but I have my eye on the prize. It’s all about lifestyle and how you choose to live.
I am a very good saver because I weigh my options. Would I rather have a new purse, or would I rather travel for two weeks off of that money? Would I rather buy three drinks at that hot new bar in the East Village, or would I rather buy a budget airline ticket to the south of Thailand? Truly, each expense is viewed through the lens of travel possibilities.
When it comes to traveling for a few weeks, or even a few months, at a time, it’s incredibly important to pack lightly. I have a 30 liter backpack and bring the bare minimum. If you forget something at home, you’ll be able to buy it abroad. Most people over pack and then have to deal with lugging a heavy backpack around. That’s no fun and it’s uncomfortable. Do yourself a favor and take out that extra pair of shoes and lose the second pair of jeans.
From each paycheck, I tuck whatever I can into a savings account. I use https://home.capitalone360.com/ and every month I have it automatically withdraw $200 from my bank account. On top of that, I will dump any extra money I have at the end of the month into that savings account. For me, it’s always about working to live. It may sounds like I give up a lot while I’m in New York, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. I love my job, the people I work with and my friends. That in and of itself is very fulfilling and I don’t need a lot of money to create those meaningful experiences.
So this is how I choose to spend my money. We all make those choices. But if you want to get away for an extended amount of time, it takes a little financial sacrifice, but the payoffs are huge.
Another question I get is “How do you take off extended amounts of time?” Funny you should ask.
Well, there are sabbaticals. If you’ve been with your company, and you’re a hard worker and your boss likes you…what makes you think that you’re not entitled to a sabbatical? I met an American guy while traveling through India who was on a 6 month sabbatical. Let me say this slowly and clearly: He got paid for 6 months while he was traveling! Now, obviously those aren’t always the terms made available to you. Maybe your boss won’t pay you while you’re gone…but if you can get 1-3 months off with the security of knowing you have a job to come back to, then that’s an option worth working with. You have to ask to find out, but it’s silly not to ask.
Another option is to quit. Yep, I said it. It’s not that crazy. I’ve done it several times in my career and I can tell you that it’s not as irresponsible as it sounds. I know the job market can be tough, but if you have a strong work history and great references, you’re in a good position. Your traveling experience will also be seen as an asset when looking for a new job. It makes you a more interesting, savvy, worldly person. Whatever your job is, you can spin the journey into a growth experience. You shouldn’t put off travel because you’re scared you might not have a job when you get back. It’s terrifying to make the leap, but it’s one you won’t regret. You have the rest of your life to work. Enjoy the experience now. You’re going to wonder why you didn’t do it earlier.
So go open up a savings account, or just start adding to one more aggressively, pick a date you want to have your goal accomplished by, and then go ahead and dream about a destination. Then make that dream happen. If a line cook (this girl) can do it on terrible hourly wages, you can do it too!
Oh…and did I mention that of course this process is a bit scary? I travel solo alot, and people always ask “aren’t you scared?” Sure it can be scary!! But not a bad scary. It’s the uncomfortable factor of pushing you out of your comfort zone scary. Who will I meet there? Will I be lonely? What will I do when I’m there? What if I don’t meet anyone??? I have this conversation with myself every single time I book a trip. Of course I’m scared/nervous/anxious. I’m leaving my friends, family and my day to day routine. But the excitement and adventure outweighs the scary and that’s why I do it.
It’s only uncomfortable up until you land in a country and start to get your bearings. You’re forced to be open and friendly because you want that human connection, and there’s no other way to get it. Whether you’re talking with locals or fellow travelers, you’ll gain insight, advice, tips and perhaps friendship just by being open to it. Traveling will make you work on yourself in those uncomfortable ways that challenge us to be better. And when you travel through developing countries, you’ll begin to appreciate the small things in life (like a warm shower, a flushing toilet, or a mattress). And sometimes travel can be draining and exhausting, but it puts life into perspective. It may not always be easy, and sometimes it won’t be fun…but it’s an experience, and one worth having.
I would encourage everyone to add that trip to their calendars and start planning, and if you have any questions or are in need of a little virtual kick in the pants, please ask me 😉