I get it all the time, “You’re so lucky to be able to travel so much!”
While that statement is true, I’m also one to believe that we create our own luck. The reason I’m able to travel so often is because I’ve created a life that essentially revolves around this, and it certainly hasn’t come without its sacrifices.
Almost everyone who travels often works damn hard to do so, there’s no easy way around it. A lot of people think that if you’re young and travel often you must have people who pay your way to do so. With everything in life, there are always exceptions to the rule, but for most of us young travellers though, this simply isn’t true.
So how do we do it? Hard work. And many, many sacrifices.
I’m going to tell you about my road-less-travelled, with the hope that you may be able to create yours too. Without going into great detail, I’m going to outline how I could afford to travel so much over the years. Travel is the number one thing in my adult life that has shaped me and changed me and helped me grow into the person I am today. I am a better person because I have travelled. I want the same great experiences for you, too.
So, this is my story…
I’ve essentially been working ever since I was eleven years old and got my first babysitting job (back when apparently 11 years old was old enough to babysit?). I spent the next five years of my life babysitting for various families quite frequently. Guess where most of that money went? Into the bank. Along with a lot of Christmas and Birthday and Graduation money too.
When I was sixteen I got my first real job working in a retail store, and I spent the next 4.5 years of my life there working between 10-35 hours a week. Guess where almost all of that money went? Into the bank. (Which then was taken back out again to pay for my tuition fees, but c’est la vie). I worked the majority of the time I was in school, and once I graduated (Debt free! Thanks to my own savings and help from my parents), I started working full time at a restaurant. I spent the next 2.5 years working and saving the large majority of my wages for both short-term travel plans and long-term travel plans, as well as saving for general long-term saving goals (like buying a house) and even for my retirement! My house and retirement fund didn’t get very far, but I was able to save a very large chunk of money for travelling, and in those three years (from ages 20-22) I did several trips that I paid for on my own. I spent a week in Florida, a week in South Carolina, five days in San Francisco, a ten day cruise through several islands in the Caribbean, two trips to New York City, and a nine week backpacking adventure through fourteen countries in Europe.
After I got back from two months in Europe, I came home unemployed but luckily (thanks to a strict budget!) still with some money in the bank. I decided to use those last scraps of savings to start a new adventure in Australia, where I got a job au pairing for a family in Melbourne. I applied for a working holiday visa that allowed me to legally live and work in Australia for a year, and off I went. I had initially only planned on living in Melbourne for 4-5 months, but quickly fell in love (with more than one experience) and extended my stay to a total of ten months.
When I came home to Canada in December of 2012, I immediately started working again. I got a job in a health food store in January and worked there for three months until ultimately realizing that although I loved the industry, I really wasn’t happy there. In April I got a job in another restaurant and worked there full-time for seven months, saving almost every dollar I made. After months of working and saving, I had enough money to head back to Australia for three months, which is where I currently am now.
Something worth noting, is that with the exception of my first year in college, I’ve always lived at home with my parents. Although there were many times I would’ve loved the privacy and freedom of my own place, I thankfully get along with my Mom really well, and she’s pretty cool about letting me do what I please, so living at home has never really been an issue. Also, because my Mom is pretty cool (Hi Mom! I love you!), she doesn’t require that I pay rent. Major bonus. And this factor has been a huge benefit to me over the years, and it’s been a huge reason why I’ve been able to travel so much. (Thanks Mom! I love you!)
I’m definitely willing to admit that I come from more privileged circumstances than the vast majority of this world, and the support of my parents has offered me many opportunities that I otherwise likely wouldn’t have had. But I’ve also never had anything handed to me on a silver platter, and I’ve spent many years of my life working hard to be able to achieve my goals. So when people call me “lucky”, I believe that’s only half true. We create our own destinies and our own circumstances for happiness. I’ve simply chosen to pursue my dreams instead of, well, just dreaming them.