With a double degree under my belt and a few years’ experience as a solicitor life seemed like it was heading in the right direction. The direction that so many of us are encouraged to take as we grow up; achieve good grades, graduate, get your first job post-study, build a reputation in your chosen field, buy a house, get married, have kids etc. But one question always played on my mind, when would I take the plunge to leave my roots and travel the world? Taking the plunge into the unknown and booking a one-way ticket to the other side of the world was the scariest, and at the same time most exciting decision I have ever made. The decision was of course a whole lot easier knowing I’d have my partner by my side.
Is travelling really a good idea?
At some point in my life I want to get stuck into my career, settle down and have a family but at 25 years of age, with few responsibilities and few “real world” problems it seemed then more than ever was the right time to travel. Copious doubts popped into my mind; what if my job is the best I’ll ever have, how can I afford to travel the world, maybe I could just take the odd international holiday every now and again, what if I get home sick? The list goes on! I soon realised that those doubts were a figment of my imagination, and travel was about to change me in so many ways I could never have imagined.
How much will it all cost?
By far money was the biggest worry we had; not knowing when our next pay cheque might be was rather unnerving. Every penny we could get our hands on went into our travel fund and we had to be wise about parting with such a hard, difficult to earn commodity. Aside from family holidays this was our first time travelling, and the first time I had to think for myself when spending money. Family holidays were simple, I had X amount of spending money and if I ran out I usually didn’t worry too much because mum and dad would foot the bill. The bank of mum and dad was no longer open. When we finished the first leg of our journey we really had to ask ourselves what the heck we were spending our money on. We had spent so much money on so many unnecessary luxuries; fancy hotels, restaurants, taxis and shopping to name a few. When you consider booking a nice hotel because “it’s so cheap compared to what I would pay at home”, or when you sit down to a meal at a five star restaurant, think about what you’re really getting out of that experience. Instead you could be making friends from all over the world in a hostel at a quarter of the price or trying a favourite local dish while learning some local lingo. Don’t stress, if you make wise decisions you will get good mileage out of your savings, and you’ll also get unforgettable experiences at the same time. Don’t be ignorant and expect your money to last forever, your spending does mount up. The best advice I can give on this topic is to live like a local instead of a tourist.
What do I pack?
I have never been a light packer, often taking several large suitcases with me for the summer holidays. How was I going to pack my entire life into a 60 litre bag? In hindsight I took far too many clothes, toiletries and generally useless items. I probably could have survived with half the amount of things I’d taken. If you forget something that you might “urgently” need I promise you it is highly likely you can buy it wherever you might be, and chances are you can probably live without whatever “it” might be. Apart from the clothes on your back, a basic roof over your head and food and water to get by there really aren’t a great deal of things you need while travelling.
What if I get homesick?
Homesickness is a horrible feeling and I was bound to experience this along the way. I would have been naïve to think I wouldn’t. There is nothing like the comfort of family and friends, a Sunday roast or a seat in front of the TV and a roaring fire, and there have been plenty of times where we longed for these comforts. But when it comes to homesickness there is nothing a good Skype call back home won’t fix. The technologies available to us today eliminate any worry you might have about missing the comforts of home. There’s no reason why you can’t have your Sunday roast in front of a fire while you video call your family, or have a beer with your mate while you both watch a local sports match. Homesickness is all part of the experience, and is likely to make you appreciate your family and friends a great deal more.
What will I learn from travel?
I am from a typical hard working New Zealand family, and I suppose one could say I had a bit of a sheltered upbringing. Travelling throughout less privileged countries really opened my eyes to just how hard life is for some people and it surely made me appreciate just how lucky I am. Kids playing in the street with no shoes, mothers cleaning the dishes from the evening meal on the side walk, a family of five crammed on to a scooter, poorly covered lowly strung power lines within a child’s reach, malnourished homeless animals with little but the scraps on the ground to eat. Aside from the poor circumstances these people always managed a smile and appeared to be just as happy, if not happier, than those of us who have everything and anything we need or want. To experience first-hand how these people live really makes travelling worthwhile. No amount of money or objects make a person happy, it is the experiences you have throughout life with the people you love that will bring you happiness.
What are you waiting for?
If you’re having thoughts of travel jump in the deep end and go for it! It’s only natural, as I have found, to have doubts, to get home sick and to long for routine. Of course one day you will return home, be it temporarily or permanently, and get into a routine; but these opportunities to travel may not always be open to us. There will be tough times where you freak at the sight of your slowly declining bank account balance, when all you want is a home cooked meal, a mother’s love or simply to be “in your comfort zone” but that is all part and parcel of the journey. No asset in the world or amount of money could replace the experiences we have had and you too can have that feeling. What are you waiting for?