One thing I love to do is travelling. I think I caught the travel bug since my early age as I was often travelling with my family to a few cities in my home country in Ivory Coast. I then kept up the habit, and good thing I did! Travelling allows me to get out of my comfort zone, discover new cultures and meet new people. But it is also my sweet escape when I need to get out of my daily routine.
The weird thing though is that the most common reasons I hear from people around me for not travelling are because they don't have the time, or that it is too expensive. But who said that you need to travel as far as travel bloggers you follow? And envy them every time you watch their "one year adventure around the world" video from your couch or see their exotic travel photos on your social media news feed that make you feel like your life is miserable?
Here is a secret, you too can travel if you really want it and I will prove you that time and money are not really an issue at all.
Let's start with time. Most of us have a full-time job, working from 9 to 6, five days a week all year long except when we use our holiday allowance and when the Friday good feeling kicks in to go on weekends. But then what to you do with your time?
In Europe, the minimum holiday allowance is about 20 days per year depending on your job and the company you work for. If we count that we have 52 weeks in a year, we, therefore, have 104 weekends of free time. You can also add about plus minus 10 bank holidays per year and in total you end up roughly with about 134 days of free time per year, that's a bit more than 4 months per year! Isn't that amazing?
When looking at it this way, our busy schedule becomes more open suddenly. Then it is up to you to use this free time to travel. If you make it your priority, you will end up seeing as many places you have always wanted to visit.
And here is the best part, travelling does not necessarily means taking a two weeks vacation and go to the other side of the world. No wonder it would cost you a lot of money and I don't blame you, the travel industry marketing make us believe that travel means a long expensive trip where we spend a lot of money on a cruise or resort hotel. But there are also small ways to satisfy your needs to travel, especially in Europe.
Go spend a weekend away, go explore. Two days is enough time to explore a city, go to the seaside if you are lucky enough to live close to the coastline or even visit a national park close to you.
In Europe, there are many websites and low-cost travel companies that allow us to travel on a budget and go explore a country while a weekend. Try to include more weekend trips away to get out of your routine and soon enough your colleagues and friends will become jealous by hearing your adventurous weekend stories!
Explore the local gems
Ok you cannot "afford" to travel abroad while the weekend, fair enough. Then be a local tourist. When people live in a city they tend to forget exploring what the city can offer them. They just commute to their work, go to their favorite bars and restaurants, go to the cinema and go home. But what about the museums, exploring a new area in your town or visit a main attraction. There are so many opportunities. Playing a tourist in your town helps to learn more about the history and culture of the country you live in.
Then comes the money issue. I cannot afford to go abroad on holidays as that costs money I cannot afford to spend. Sounds familiar? For some of us who have responsibilities like a family, or debts to reimburse, I can understand that it is not always easy to manage, but it is still doable, even if it does not mean traveling a lot. It is a matter of organization and prioritization.
For instance, do you really need to spend more than 20€ on your phone and data bill with the competitive offers now available? Do you really need that yearly fancy gym membership that costs you more than 400€ a year and you never find time to go because you are too tired after work? Or do you really need to spend your money on alcohol while going out on a weekend and then ending up eating a fast food before taking a taxi to go home?
Change your habits
Try to change some of these habits and minimize your expenses and you will soon realize that you will be able to save enough money for a budget weekend getaway that will get you out of your routine.
Travel with friends
Splitting a budget is also a good way to go somewhere you could not afford on your own and it will also be a great way to bond and share travel memories you will always remember in your life.
Explore a city or a country as a local
Do not go head first into the tourist attractions or big hotels and hostels because they are centrally located. Sure it is handy, but these places are overcrowded and you will miss the experience of talking with locals as you will be mostly around tourists. Discovering a country is also about discovering a new culture and what a better way to experience it than with locals!
By managing your time and minimizing your expenses, you will end up traveling more often. Sure there are some sacrifices to make and you won't be able to attend all the events you would like, but in the end the experience you will get from your travels will enrich your life and you will have so many stories to tell your friends and family that will inspire them.
So go, do not waste more time, do not put to tomorrow something that you could do today. I know I am doing it even with a 9 to 6 jobs working five days a week. I will end this article with this inspirational quote from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do.”