I hear it over and over again, where ever I am in the world, rich or poor, black or white - "I can't travel as much as I'd like as I don't have enough money / time...",
So obviously there is truth in this mantra that most of the world live by - as we are restricted by money and time limitations, but not as much as we think. After having lived and travelled around the world over the past 40 years but mostly in the past 10, it became so clearly apparent to me just how fortunate I have been in my life challenges & experiences that on the surface have been extremely challenging but have eventually led me to have found a perspective different to nearly all of the people I meet on the planet - a perspective of life that's free of time and financial restrictions - not to say that I am a millionaire without a financial care in the world, or from a secure family full of emotional support, but in fact quite the opposite - actually a self employed entrepreneur with no family or emotional/financial support. Like, most, I also used to hold the life restricting belief that time and money were restrictions to the life I was supposed to live, but this all changed after accepting many personal challenging life problems. Most of the people I meet in the world are suffering, that's for sure - but then living in the suffering because of limited emotional self awareness and therefore restricted self-care, tends keeps one in this state. A cycle of victim attitude, not enough and always trying to get more. Education provides us with an abundance of academic tools and support but emotional and social self-care awareness are not things that are taught in schools/universities or given value in society, so most people, including myself in the past feel restricted to live the life we are in and to worry a lot about the future and not having enough to do what we want. My eclectic life challenges in the past and my lack of emotional awareness/self-care skills forced me to make a decision that would change the rest of my life.
To leave everything and run away.
I was 34 years old and at the height of my career, had a good house, sports cars and stable relationship but something inside me was falling apart from all the years of life challenges and unresolved personal issues - feeling something was not right inside of me, living in a world that wasn't able to satisfy my unsettled inner world. In the past I, like most, kept moving forward and looking for answers in society and from the external world and pleasures around me. Then things, as usual started to fall apart and there was no more space inside me to 'run' - so I was forced to just 'run away from myself' - as a lot of people who I have met on my travels who are 'travelling' have also done. I left everything and bought a one way ticket to Vietnam. I didn't have any other solution than to just go.
I wasn't financially or emotionally stable in that moment, having no family and quitting yet another successful career.
I didn't have time or money but my latest life challenges forced me to just go.
Now, I am not suggesting that leaving everything and moving to another country, but what I am offering is the awareness that it wasn't a good time to start travelling and moving - and that's my point - it never is. There is never a golden moment for most people. For the millions of us who wish to travel but have family, work and other commitments.
Life - it gets in the way of living...
But what I am saying is that from my own personal journey at that time - desperately unhappy, volatile and frustrated, I learned that by simply 'falling' down and buying a one way ticket on credit with no work or housing organised, led me to this blissful way of living and facing life in a different way than most people and from before. Everyone has their own journey but for the people like me who hadn't the emotional and self care awareness and skills and that need to 'distract' as a way of coping - travelling at the worst possible time in ones life can offer a solution to living the rest of one's life in peace. There will always be challenges to face in life, but with the right perspective, every day becomes a joy. Travelling in a not so typical way can be a solution and bring 'riches'.
Travelling to escape but actually taking everything inside me. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
From this initial journey, I thought I would return after a few months, having used the distraction to give me some breathing space from life. How naive I was. We've all seen the film 'Eat, Pray, Love' - and know that the journey then takes you into other directions and places, both internally and externally, but I wasn't aware of why I was running, but only that I NEEDED to. That initial journey was packed with traumas, dramas and life challenges - as I changed country but obviously the problems were inside me and so I simply took them to Vietnam! With a forced limitation on funds and a series of health issues from having a stressed out nervous system, I was restricted to social engagements and eating - so I was 'forced' into cooking / eating simple foods at home and not out - annoying at first but from this life challenge I have learnt the benefits of eating well and simply on a regular basis even when funds are not an issue at all. My daily habit was to take a nice coffee in a nice cafe and over the week that expense was nothing - I found myself having more money than I initially thought - every Sunday choosing to find a lovely hotel and having an afternoon or evening cognac or coffee was also part of the routine that made me feel better about the restrictions - to be in such elegant places but not over spending and then having more opportunities for future days, weeks and months ahead. Not missing out on experiences but doing them in a more simple way. The same with hotels and accommodation - opting for 2 nights in a tops 4 or 5 star and then 7 days in a 2 star, or one night couch surfing to meet a local and 5 days in a hotel to pay into the tourism industry and local economy...
I wasn't a tourist on that initial trip - I was aware that I was living differently to other travellers that I met there - I wasn't seeking experiences or sightseeing, but simply trying to find some peace - impossible as I realised after, as peace is an internal energy, not external.
This search for peace sent me on an unsettling year ahead, unable to stay in one place but being financially restricted having to learn new ways to 'survive' and live...
Let's fast-forward 9 years, numerous life challenges and 7 countries later -
Three things I've learned on my journeys that have released me from the financial and time rules that most of the world live by, to a life of blissful peace and gratitude in a continually challenging world:
1: There is never a good time to move country or travel if you aim too high. Life isn't an American tv ad. Knowing how to travel and stay abroad is a skill that can be learned. Taking a train rather than a plane or flying into a nearby airport that could save you hundred of dollars to use on a future trip. A recent example: Peak summer season and needing to get out of Vienna back to Sicily (flight cost £250) - instead of booking a plane for £250, I booked a scenic train from Vienna to Verona (Italy) for £25 and then a flight from Verona to Sicily for £15. Or needing to get into Vienna from London (flight costs £300) but flying into a nearby airport in Bratislava (Slovakia) costs only £50 and then its only a £10 train or beautiful boat ride along the majestic river Danube into Vienna. These are just a couple of the hundreds of travelling tips I have learned from forced financial and time restrictions that I have had experienced in the past and then learned from rather than giving up. Even now with no time or financial restrictions, I use my experiences to save money from travelling so that I can either: work less as I don't need to earn as much to sustain a normal lifestyle or spend saved money on things like technology that I love.
2: I always love the excitement that children have when looking forward to Christmas...the anticipation. I now enjoy this feeling EVERYDAY but not for waiting for Santa or Christmas but instead I have incorporated this 'feeling' into my travel and daily living. Living a simple life in terms of not impulse buying things I don't need lie most do everyday and spending for nothing, not booking 5 star hotels for more than 2 days at a time, buying second hand cars/furniture where hygienically possible and not eating in fancy restaurants often. So from my journey and being restricted I have learned that even now without restrictions, I choose to limit myself, like a child would be restricted to buying candy/cakes just once a week and building up that anticipation and excitement, leading to full appreciation and not over indulging on things/experiences that most people buy/take/do as money and low self restraint tend to lead towards over exaggeration - the thing we try to teach our kids not to! Once again, not having money to travel need not be an issue, if 90% of your day or week is lived in a simple/humble way then the 10% that you 'spoil' yourself not only creates a feeling of gratitude and appreciation but also saves you money. Example, I love opera but I limit myself to one opera a year somewhere in the world. This year I chose Berlin and bought a restricted view ticket at the opera house for only £15!!! incredible. As I came through Verona in Italy recently, my friend suggested that I go to the opera there, and it would have been easy but I preferred to stick to the once a year rule to create the anticipating and so declined -a s I had already been in January, I had experienced my annual opera treat, and so I didn't book another. It would have been easy to book another but the feeling of looking forward to the next one and next year is what will provide excitement to me for the following months ahead. This philosophy is actually about living in the moment but with a non impulse consumeristic perspective. I'm not popular with people trying to sell me things! So here you can see that spending on things to look forward to rather than impulse buying and relentless consumerism enables travelling.
Knowing how to SPEND rather than how to SAVE is the key issue here.
3: There used to be a time that I felt sad about not having a family or support (emotionally or financially) and that I didn't fit in to the system of graduating, working, getting married, having kids and buying a house etc...but now this has become one of the biggest blessings in my life to financial and emotional freedom for living. We tend to waste a lot of energy worrying about what we SHOULD be doing rather than what we really are doing here individually. I felt judged and insecure in the past as I wasn't married and in my 30's and even turned 40 - I felt like a failure as I didn't have kids or seem to have a settled and 'normal' life like others - but then finally coming to terms with my own individual journey has led me to even more travel experiences and riches. Example: now with no ego, family, social or cultural influences, I am able to travel by means of 'exchanges'. I have spent the past 3 months living in Vienna and Sicily on an exchange - hotel / food for my vast work/career skills. This once common traditional method of exchanging goods and services is something that I was 'forced' to try after a set of life challenges that pushed me in this direction. We all have something to exchange and with no ego or constant obsession to chase financial gain, this method of travelling and experiencing life in other places via exchanges is also a possibility that most would not have considered let alone entertain - but it's a way...
Learning about cultures and society is one thing as a reason to travel, as is escaping or having some time out but learning about oneself and building up self awareness and self care as a result has been incomparable. Learning how to travel and life, have a lifestyle that is YOURS and not about what you should be doing or how to behave/be/travel/