You know the drill – I’ve hammered on the financial side of this dream stuff enough. If you want to make it happen badly enough, you’ll do what it takes to figure it out. If you don’t, you’ll make excuses why it won’t work. It’s up to you, really.
I’m not the only person saying that. Today’s guest post comes from Mark from The Time To Go Is Now. He’s saying the exact same thing. How badly do you want your dream?
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to travel. To travel as much as I possibly could. However, I had resigned myself to the standard vacation-based travel and looked upon continuous travel as a fleeting daydream of youth or an answer to the question, “What would you do if you won the lottery?”
But as I got older I came to a couple of conclusions:
- confining my passion for travel to my allotted vacation days was insufficient
- I was not going to win the lottery
As I schemed about ways I could get more work-from-home time from my current employer and looked for jobs that would allow me to work from home all of the time I began to come across blogs from people out traveling the world for months and years at a time. At first it seemed to be a lot of folks in their twenties with good jobs who were able to pay off their debt and go travel, but the more I looked the more I found people who were not only closer to my age and older but in more difficult financial situations than I have had to deal with in years.
My brain went to work and I started to do the math.
Fortunately, I had been inadvertently preparing for this for years. I didn’t realize how close I was; it just never occurred to me. For several years after college I was living paycheck to paycheck. My chosen career path was going to be neither easy nor lucrative so I made a change and eventually found a job that paid a bit more and that allowed me to start paying more on my college loans and credit card debt.
I eventually earned a promotion that allowed me to pay more and as debts began to disappear I began to save. I didn’t really know for what I was saving; I just knew that I didn’t want to owe anyone anything ever again.
In March when I started thinking about quitting my job and traveling the world I examined my finances and realized that if I liquidated everything (not counting my retirement account), cut back on my spending and made some extra money I could leave at the end of the year.
The excitement and joy that washed over me was so powerful that the fear of the unknown faded almost completely. For once in my life I was confident about a major life decision. “I can DO this.”
The thing is while I was paying off my debt, I was not nearly as aggressive as I could have been. How had I not thought of this before? Why hadn’t I looked into it? How many years did I waste?
Since I didn’t really have a goal I didn’t make drastic cuts in other parts of my life. I’d still go on vacation and out to dinner. If I had come to the decision to pursue backpacking around the world when I was 25 I could have accomplished this goal much, much sooner. Sure, it would have been tough and it would have taken a while but not nearly as long as it already has.
Anything you really want to do, whether it is traveling or songwriting or starting your own business, you are going to attack it. You are going to find a way.
You have to find a way to push and persevere. I got lucky. I was focused on paying off my debts and thankfully independent travel springs from the same source.
I can’t tell you it is going to be easy because you may have to make some big sacrifices. There has to be a trade off because you can’t do everything and changing the way you’ve always done things can be terrifying. I can’t give you a formula because everyone is different.
Most of the basics are the tips you hear from financial advisors: Get an additional job, live within your means, set a budget, eliminate debt and save. You have to figure out what works for you. What you’re capable of. What you’re willing to live with. What skills you can develop.
You don’t have to try and do things the exact same way someone else did. There are hundreds of blogs out there from people who have successfully followed their dreams and they aren’t all necessarily about travel. Take the time to research and find the advice that is right for you. Take what you need from each and make it your own. If you find a gap in the knowledge, find a way to fill it. Someone out there will be glad you did.
Mark and his girlfriend Julie are quitting their jobs at the end of 2013 and embarking on a 12 month (hopefully longer) round-the-world backpacking trip. Their blog, The Time to Go Is Now, documents what led up to their decision, what they are doing to get ready for their trip, reports back from their travels, and any other random thoughts that occur along the way.