The phrase causes me to clench my jaw every time I hear it. Five infamous words that too often creep into casual conversation when discussing a recent trip, destination, or experience. No matter whom I’m speaking with and no matter the setting, the words never cease to irk me. It’s too expensive to travel.
After budget traveling for quite some time, I have accumulated a fair share of disputes and quarrels to combat those five words. But still, even after presenting the most convincing argument, people will still snarl under their breath stating that they just don’t have that kind of money or those types of funds for travel. That kind of money. Those kinds of funds. I can’t help but laugh
You see, these cynics seem to be under the impression that the majority of young world travelers today fall into one category: trust fund babies. And of course, me, being the stubborn argumentative type, often use myself, a very averagely middle classed suburban kid whom had never traveled outside of the country prior to college, as a prime example to disillusion their preconceived notions. But after years of analyzing the patterns of these cynics, I finally came to a realization. They’re right. For them, traveling is too expensive. And it always will be.
In life, people prioritize their needs and their wants based on a hierarchy. Yes, you know where I’m going with this. The good ole Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. According to Maslow’s theory, the most basic level of needs must be met before an individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs. And these needs are subjective. They differ from person to person and from setting to setting. Therefore, while some people may like the “idea” of traveling, it may never fall into their secondary or higher level needs.
And this is fine. I understand that people have serious obligations to work hard and provide for their family or that they have extenuating circumstances that hinder their ability to travel near and far. Or that, in general, traveling is just not something they desire to do. But those aren’t the people who drive me crazy. It’s the people who pretend to want a lifestyle of travel but stay stagnant in their every day lives. They would never switch up their daily routine or make small sacrifices, and yet, they still want to play the victim of not being granted the funds to unlock their travel dreams.
They would rather spend a few hundred a month on their wardrobe or beauty needs than putting a few hundred into their savings. They would rather pay $5 everyday for their Latte Vanilla Soy Macchiato (not even sure if that’s a drink) rather than collect some pocket change in a piggy bank. And God forbid, if you even mention downgrading/downsizing their phone or data plan… because those pointless excess incurred costs of mindlessly scrolling on the phone is a necessity.
But on the contrary, my hierarchy of needs are a little distorted as well. To be honest, I probably have earned myself a crazy label based on the extent that I will go to travel.
I slept on a fair share of airport grounds and even sidewalks (yes, apparently some airports shut down) in order to make my 22nd birthday wish in the Trevi Fountain in Rome. I ate rice cakes for a week straight so that I could go cliff jumping in Croatia. For six months, I chose not to use any data on my phone so that I could ride a camel in Marrakesh. I bought all my winter clothes at a second hand shop so that I could climb Germany’s highest peak. I spent hours planning fundraising nights at local restaurants so that I could work with refugee children in Uganda. For a whole summer, I did market research on garbage cans (yep, spreadsheets and trends on garbage cans) so that I could spend my last semester of college abroad in Czech Republic.
And after a semester in Czech Republic, I was able to travel to sixteen countries.. and guess what? I spent less in those five months than I did in five months in America. I cut my phone out of my life, no gas costs were incurred, my rent dropped dramatically, I cancelled my driver’s insurance, and I learned how to BALL on a budget.
You see, I have chosen this lifestyle and you have chosen yours. And you will not hear me complaining about the sacrifices that I have made because these sacrifices have shaped me into the woman I am today and into the woman I am becoming. But I still hear your incessant complaints. Yet, they aren’t complaints.. They are excuses about how you have scarified travel for the sake of your own needs, wants, and desires.
So you’re right. Traveling is too expensive for you. It isn’t in your budget. And you most likely won’t ever have the funds for it.