I read an article a few months back written by a New Yorker who was all upset because they can’t afford to travel, so naturally, they took it out on travelers.
We as people who travel were told not to share our experiences online because instead of inspiring people, we’re just making them feel worse about the fact that they are not privileged enough to travel themselves.
Yep, the words privileged and white popped up in there a few times of course, along with starving people in Africa.
I’ve been thinking about this particular article for a while now because something just irked me about it…
I Can’t Afford To Travel: Why This Mindset Will Always Restrict You
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Why is it that people who choose to spend their hard earned money on experiences, rather than material things, are slapped with the privileged label?
And why are we all apparently white?
And, why mention the starving people in Africa when you’re probably sat in there in your New York City apartment, typing on your $2,500 Macbook whilst tossing up between a hearty bowl of pasta or roast beef for dinner?
You know what? I don’t have a home, my car’s on its last legs and my wardrobe fits into a suitcase.
I work long hours every day from wherever I am to earn an income that supports my lifestyle choices and, quite frankly, I’ve let myself go a little (which I’m assuming is down to eating rice for lunch and dinner every day).
Does that make me a privileged person?
Probably, but being honest, so are we all in one way or another.
Now, I’m aware that growing up in a Western country makes me very fortunate but it doesn’t make me immune to hardship.
Illness, heartache and loss take their toll on our privileged white asses as well.
So if we want to let go, travel and share our experiences with others in the hope that it will inspire and help them to live a more fulfilling life (in their eyes), what’s so wrong about that?
In all honesty, I doubt the people starving in Africa (and every other continent in the world) are sat on Macbooks scrolling through Facebook getting offended every time they see a picture of someone traveling.
And I know that a lot of people in this world who do have access to the internet are just breaking even, but believe me, that still doesn’t mean traveling is impossible.
NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.
A friend of ours lived in a Brazilian favela (slum) less than 2 years ago. If you know about the favelas, you’ll also know that opportunity barely exists in these places.
When he found out that there were scholarships being offered to study/live in Australia, he went for it.
As soon as he arrived in Australia he picked up odd ‘backpacker’ jobs whilst teaching himself how to do videography.
Soon enough he was traveling around the country making videos for restaurants, hostels and travel companies…
By the second year he was traveling through Asia and as I write this, he’s having the adventure of a lifetime in New Zealand.
Then, take Dan for example… Another Brazilian.
When he decided he wanted to travel, he literally had no money.
So to make his dream a reality, he traded his skills for things that would get him one step closer…
First, a lap-top. Second, a ticket to New Zealand. And third, an English course for when he arrived.
That’s right, he didn’t even speak a word of English before he got there.
But he believed he could, so he did. And he’s been traveling the world, making an income online ever since (how privileged of him).
Then there’s the Nigerian guy I met in the airport at the beginning of this year…
He was a construction worker who eventually worked his way up to becoming a project manager and was now heading to Mexico for 2 weeks.
He told me all about his history and upbringing with no money and talked about how his dream was to become a motivational speaker and help other people in his country to break out of poverty.
Instead of believing that he had no hope, that he grew up in a poor country with a poor family and that was how it was going to be forever, he took action to make a change.
And now he was getting on the plane to freaking Cancun.
I bet he took lots of pictures too (how privileged of him).
So if you are someone who always talks about how you’d love to travel but simply can’t afford it, then it’s time to change your mindset.
All of us can afford to travel.
Sounds privileged or perhaps even a bit blind of me doesn’t it?
But it’s true.
It’s all about how you perceive things…
Traveling is an idea, a philosophy.
It doesn’t have to mean saving up $10,000 for flights and luxury accommodation in Hawaii.
It doesn’t even have to mean quitting your job, stuffing whatever you can fit in a backpack and hitch-hiking around the country.
You can travel within your own city.
You can travel with no money at all if you want…
House-sitting, Couchsurfing, volunteering and hitch-hiking are just some of the ways in which you can travel for free.
Of course, I know this means giving up your comfort but sometimes we have to make these kinds of trade-offs (as Leah likes to call them here) in order to do the things we really want in life.
And look, it’s important to think bigger than what’s in front of you right now, next week or in a month’s time…
Like I said, my friend who lived in the favela taught himself to become a videographer and is now using his skills to continue his incredible adventure on the opposite side of the world.
Just because you start off volunteering or sleeping on couches, it doesn’t mean you can’t do something to change that.
And I get it, in countless cities around the world it can be extremely difficult to pick up well paid work or find a second job to bring in extra cash for travel…
But instead of thinking, well this sucks and continuing on the same path, do something different.
Like Einstein said,
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Not getting paid enough? Perhaps it’s time to start a business of your own…
This would also give you a lot more freedom to travel, especially if you base it online.
Not cut out for business? Look into remote job options.
Again, a remote job may not provide an incredible salary but at least you can make money from anywhere.
Don’t think you have the right skills to make a change in your career? Go and find them.
There are plenty of free online courses that you can do in your lunch break or before bed each night.
But still, I know what some of you may be thinking…
This is all well and good for a single person but I’m married with children and a dog and a mortgage and bills and car loans and school fees and I literally have no money left over at the end of the month. How am I supposed to “change my mindset”?
Well first of all, understand that a family camping trip one hour away from home can be just as fulfilling as jetting off to the other side of the world.
When I was a teenager, my mum and her husband went through some financial struggles and they couldn’t afford to bring us all traveling elsewhere. So what did we do instead?
We went camping.
I’m from the Sunshine Coast in Australia and I lived one hour away from Noosa Northshore, a beautiful long stretch of rugged coastline which is home to the magical Double Island Point.
We’d spend 3 nights camping among the sand dunes, waking up each morning and refreshing ourselves in the turquoise sea, cooking barbecues, playing beach games and simply enjoying ourselves.
To us, these trips were so valuable because not only were we able to immerse ourselves in the beauty of our own backyard (something we normally took for granted) but we were also able to create lifelong memories with the people we loved.
And it doesn’t have to be camping, I’m just using that as an example.
We can all be tourists in our own backyards…
A while ago I wrote this post about how to live like you’re traveling when going on vacation elsewhere is proving difficult.
We also had a guest author write this one about how to make the most of your own city without spending a lot of money.
But what about if you live in the middle of nowhere?
Then it’s time to think about what you really want out of life…
If you really want to travel but can’t afford to because there aren’t a lot of career opportunities or things to do where you live, consider moving.
Yes, living in a suburban area will be more expensive but with that comes opportunity…
Opportunity to study. Opportunity to get a better paid job. Opportunity to start your own business. Opportunity to surround yourself with driven people. Opportunity to see something new every day. Opportunity to give your children a head start. Opportunity to take action on your goals and dreams.
It’s an investment in your future.
Each family has a different story about how they got started but one thing is certain for all – they went in search of opportunities to make their dream lifestyle possible.
Caz and Craig from YTravel Blog were bankrupt. Now they run one of the most popular travel blogs on the internet…
Did they have any idea about how to blog when they started? No, but they tried anyway and look where it got them.
Amazing things can be born out of necessity.
Danielle and Daniel from VA Lifestyle Design barely saw each other while he was working long hours earning a single income and she was taking care of their two young children…
Now they run an online business together and live in exotic (but less expensive) countries like Costa Rica and Bali with their 3 children.
Erin from Travel With Bender had never even considered the nomadic life before but when she and her partner Josh found a way to bring their career skills online, it freed up a huge amount of space to bring the kids on an unforgettable adventure.
Yes, these families were fortunate to have had access to the internet and a roof over their heads but so are you.
As harsh as this may come across, this article isn’t written for the people who don’t have access to the internet or basic living necessities, nor is it for the people suffering from illness or disability.
It’s for everyone reading this who ‘can’t afford to travel‘.
Look, our own success is vital to sufficiently provide the resources and opportunities these people need long before they’re scrolling through travel articles on their Macbooks and iPhones…
So before you fall deeper into this mindset of, well they’re really poor, I’m not much better off, so we’re all victims together – remember – you have internet, you have your basic living needs and you have opportunity if you’re willing to go looking for it.
By constantly staying in this mindset of “I can’t afford to travel“, “I’m too poor“, etc, you are subconsciously telling yourself that you’ll never have money and you’ll never be capable of the life you dream of…
… And with that comes the repercussion of not being able to help the people who are seriously in need.
So many people seem to care about helping the poor to live a better life, yet at the same time ignore the resources available to them to make a change.
It’s time to stop seeing yourself as the victim and use what you have to take small steps towards living a life that truly fulfills you and the people around you.
Everyone starts somewhere.
It’s true, there are a few trust fund kids prancing around the world in first class but the majority of us are not that.
We are normal people with our own struggles and holdbacks (and we come in more than one skin colour).
Nomadic Matt sums up what I’m trying to say perfectly:
By believing that everyone else is special, unique, or rich, you put up a psychological barrier that forces you to ignore all the reasons why travel is possible.
I’m sorry if this post came off as ranty but I think it’s really important for people to move away from this restricting I can’t afford to travel mindset.
Open yourself up to opportunities and start making little changes in your daily actions. It won’t happen overnight but soon enough you will begin to see things taking shape.
For tips on how to strategically use the internet in order travel more, sign up for our email series at the bottom of this page (and we’ll give you our eBook as well).
And finally, here’s a powerful question you might like to ask yourself each day…