For most people the idea of packing up their life to move overseas, or saving up an unholy amount of money only to blow it on a few months exploring far-flung destinations, are completely unfathomable as concepts. To be brutally honest, in my opinion, it is only really the fortunate, or the super savvy savers, that actually get to travel.
There is a lot of people, writers, bloggers out there who write a lot of self-inflating bullshit saying “everyone should travel; drop everything, quit your career job, and go travelling; why not just go and travel the world”. For many people it is simply not possible to save the thousands of pounds, dollars, euros, etc. required to be able to take more than the standard “week to 10 day” holiday from work. This is the reality.
It actually becomes slightly infuriating reading the unrealistic, egotistical tosh that many writers and bloggers produce. As I have started to explore the world of travel writing and travel blogging there are just too many people blowing smoke up their own asses and creating extremely unrealistic worlds for would-be travellers to aspire to.
Working in a travel agency in Australia has shown me a wide variety of travellers, from the very money conscious traveller, to the “don’t worry I’ve got my parents credit card” traveller. Those who have used what little money they have to get a flight overseas, on a bit of a whim and prayer, to those who have strict schedules worth many thousands of pounds that last only a few weeks.
I (hope) am never going to be one of those clichéd dickheads that reels of cheesy travel quotes to try and inspire others (unless someone is going to pay me to do it and I may be tempted! ha), I try to have more of a realistic approach, understanding that people can live full and happy lives without having to travel to Egypt and get scammed by some smelly camel rider (not derogatory, literally a camel rider), or climb a mountain riddled with paraplegic pilgrims in Sri Lanka. Different people hold different things much higher than others, so to tell someone who works hard to support a family that they are boring or missing out in some way because they do not spend their hard earned money on flights across the globe (which is pretty much the gist of what I am reading on a daily basis) is, quite frankly, fucking arrogant.
Live your own life; don’t let others tell you what to do or how to do it.
Anyway, rant over. There is a purpose to my waffle today… Although, as I/we have established, not everyone can travel, for those fortunate or savvy enough, there can be great lessons and great experiences out there.
I deem myself to be in the aforementioned ‘fortunate’ crowd, however I have developed a rather savvy streak since starting my travels. Strict budgeting, horrendous amounts of haggling, sleeping in some shameful places, and never booking “organised group tours” to visit places you can pretty much always get to under your own steam on some form of dodgy public transport. All this helps to keep my spending to a minimum and helps to stretch what money I am fortunate enough to have as far as possible.
Travelling, working, struggling and surviving overseas since leaving the UK has taught me some worthwhile lessons. How to manage money better, that at a push most problems can be solved, it is possible to start from scratch, and above all others: do not live with a crystal meth addict.
In Soph I have an extremely organised and strict budgeter as a travel partner, so when I say I have learned how to manage money better, I may have lied, I mean to say we have learned how to manage money better. I am however still a little prone to getting over zealous with purchases, but unfortunately never on anything worthwhile, usually just food and beer – 2 very easy things to spend a lot of money on in Melbourne.
It has surprised us both that inside a year we have both found ourselves to be very comfortable in Melbourne, and it has certainly been a learning curve that we have been lucky enough to find ourselves on. From nowhere to live, no jobs and only vaguely knowing 1 or 2 people, to having a great house, jobs we enjoy (that importantly allow us to save some $$$) and some good friends!
So our time in Melbourne comes to an end very soon. It has been a fantastic chapter, and left us torn between wanting to stay and wanting to head off on another adventure. But, nevertheless, onwards we go. Next stop… Thailand.