It seems like yesterday when I started to travel 6 months a year out of obligation … and now, when commenting on it in public, the reactions vary from interesting to enviable. But what everyone wants to know is what factors provided me with freedom to travel especially on a tight budget. My answer in a nutshell is, in reality, it is much easier to travel if you are poor than if you are rich… This post is my know-how and personal experience on the subject.
Talking with some friends who earn much more than I do, but who rarely travel more than to visit family in other Spanish cities, I have noticed that they felt surprised, envious and also sceptical of how I manage to do it economically. In another blog of mine “How to travel six months a year?” I covered the points that I follow on a practical level with examples of the places where I go, what I do, how I live, etc. In this post I will adopt the opposite approach because I know traveling gives rise to emotional and financial dilemmas that need to be surrendered to make it easy. What are the mindset blocks that should be released to have the ideal circumstances to travel for long periods of time? In other words: how to free yourself to travel.
The difference between me and the average vacation traveler is that I do not have a whole series of conventions seen as normal by most people such as:
Looking at this list, it is quite clear where all my friends’ money goes and how by raising between 500 and 1000 euros a month, I can afford to travel almost indefinitely. Reckon that long-stay accommodation is much less expensive. Although when I tell people that I am already a “semi-professional traveler”, they react with doubts and even disdain like, “What is that?”. The reality is that there is a large movement of digital nomads (also called location independent entrepreneurs) who spend years and years working online and have freedom to travel the world, especially Southeast Asia, Mexico and Latin America.
People without many resources have problems of their own to deal with but there is also something quite liberating in that circumstance because a lot can be said for the saying, less is more travel-wise.
The more I have traveled the bigger fan of simplicity I have become. There are thousands of sites on the Internet that can tell us how to find travel deals, pack lightly, accommodations for medium and long-term stays. Traveling with little money is not very difficult, as long as you do not have a lot of financial responsibilities at home and you know your preferences. For example, spending money on trying out the local cuisine. If you know yourself and your interest is in keeping things simple, it is easier because you are not tempted by other people’s priorities. One of my travel experience priorities is trying the food and studying with locals. Others see eating out as a waste of money and very intimidating any class where their native tongue is not the language of instruction.
Easy travel should deliver nourishment for the mind and the soul. In its best version it should flow and be transformational too, providing us clarity for our minds and focus to be the best, or better, version of ourselves. To this end and in the aura of simplicity we advocate above, time to do nothing is imperative. If you’re traveling and working, or studying, it’s important to give yourself downtime. Meditate, do yoga, or take a long walk, exercise, just chillax, but do not push and push to the limit of your physical and mental resources. This is not a race to anything, so let go of the inner obsession to capture and post forever those memories in social media and instead give yourself permission to live them fully in the moment.
This is not to say that a jam-packed day with hustle and bustle should not be enjoyed, but our main goal should be to reduce stress, gain clarity, experience healthier, happier and more sustainable moments in order to bring inspiration and fulfillment to our lives.
Rewarded are the poor, if they will seize the opportunity to see the world, while others are tied to their houses and have to pay to uphold and maintain a stationary lifestyle.
If you leave room in your mind to expect the unexpected, and remain open to the idea of low-budget travel, there will be surprises, and you will adapt, making travel not only easier but much more rewarding. Some of the best parts of my travels have been experiences that could not have been planned. Once I was stranded off the beaten path in the Cuban province of Artemisa when our rudimentary transport broke down. Another time I was stranded on the Mediterranean island of Stromboli, off the coast of Sicily, when ferry transport was suspended due to an erupting volcano.
So the idea that it has to do with money is not my reality. The key is in your mind-body connection, via your mindset. Your wherewithal in the non-material plane is as important as any others. Stay alert and always have a plan B: planning and practicality will greatly improve your experience. Keep your eyes open for signs, ie. it is easier to travel outside of Europe, to Asia, as I have already mentioned, or to Latin America, for example, Colombia, where everything is much cheaper.