Often, people ask me how I afford to travel so much.
Truth is, I am just your average early-20-something y/o trying to find her way through this mess of a world. I don’t come from a rich family, I don’t have a second more than you do. The only difference I may have is that I am dictated by my curiosity. My priority lies with this need to understand the unknown, to explore the world at large, to interact with people so different yet so similar to myself. I always thought I was one of the few who undergoes this undying need to constantly test their own boundaries, who suffers from this itchy feet syndrome, whose bits and pieces are scattered across high mountains low seas.
But there are many more who share the same, cheesy sentiment for different reasons. Journeys like these are ones that have inspired me to hop on a night bus or a morning train. I hope they inspire you to do the same.
When I was a little girl living in Golden, Colorado, a very sparse little town full of trailer parks and empty streets, I’d lay in the middle of our 2-acre lawn and listen to the airplanes when they lazily flew over my sky view. I’d imagine I’d be a very metropolitan woman, escaping the country for the city and flying to exotic places like California and anywhere in the USA.
Fast-forward 40 years and traveling to California regularly, the scope of what I imagined then versus now has changed immensely. I am considered fairly well traveled, but that is to GenX scope. Any generations after, I am in somewhat of the same track to visit the places these younger people may have already seen. I still have a voracious appetite for travel and my goal is to live places 3 months at a time, at LEAST out of the year, away from what would be considered as my “home”.
I had traveled quite a bit and still love the drone of the airplane, a promise that you will be lifted to new places and things I’d never seen before. However, there are life instances that made that childhood inspiration into a reality.
I remember it very clearly. When I found out my brother had committed suicide, my desire to go to Hawaii, a lifelong dream in my 27 years, became a reality. Not only that, but my future husband went there with me. I realized, life was short and saving for a rainy day is not always a fruitful endeavor. 7 months after his passing, I was on an airplane headed for my first of many ventures out into the wide blue yonder. I couldn’t suppress my adoration of Maui. Breathtaking beaches, amazing clear ocean, beautiful greenery everywhere. PEACE!
I remember sticking my face in the water first time to snorkel. 4 hours later I came to shore, with the most burnt butt you could imagine. I could barely sit for days. It was worth it and solicited 3 more visits to Hawaii before I realized there is an entire world I need to visit.
This was the first of many trips, vacations, and sojourns that I have and will take. It got me out of my rut of thinking small, keeping what I had instead of giving it away. Giving the opportunity to myself to grow out of that protective idea of a shell. Now, when I travel, my shell is my body, and my gift is all the senses I have to experience the amazingness surrounding me.
Where to next?
Kelly from Girl with the Passport
Travel has always helped me feel like I am a truly complete person. To me, there is just something magical about waking up every day and not knowing what you are going to do or who you are going to meet.
So when my mom asked me to visit her ultimate dream destination, Rome, I didn’t hesitate.
However, the trip never happened. Instead, my mom developed this blood-curdling cough that made it difficult for her to breathe. Just to be safe, we decided to head to the doctor and get her some medicine for our upcoming trip. And that’s when I held my mom’s hand as the doctor told her that she had stage four ovarian cancer. I squeezed her hand to not only give her strength and hope but to convince myself that she would get better and that we could still go on our trip.
Sadly though, she didn’t get better and she died before her dream could ever be realized.
This unrealized dream left an indelible mark on my soul. From that day on, I was determined to travel enough for the both of us and to bring my mom’s spirit with me, wherever I go. See, I would not fall victim to the same fate and live a life that was ravaged by the haunting words of, “if only”.
So today, I don’t just travel for myself. I travel for my mom and for all the people who don’t think they can travel. I want to inspire others and show them that if I can follow my dreams, they can too.
Kelly Duhigg currently lives in New York and works as a full-time nanny. Every chance she gets, she travels the world and documents her adventures on her blog. She hopes to use her writing to inspire others to follow their travel dreams no matter what. You can follow her journey on her Facebook and her Instagram.
Katherine from Tara Lets Anywhere
My boyfriend Hali and I are advocates of voluntourism and other social programs. We’re part of a community of backpackers that engages in non-profit voluntourism in the Philippines.
I help with the brainstorming, fundraising, and organization of volunteers in the outreach programs, while Hali helps with the graphic design and documentation.
Our group researches and helps communities in need, coordinate with the local government unit in the area (or school administration, whichever is more appropriate), and then plans and organizes an outreach event. Planning and fundraising are the most time and effort consuming part because there are challenges specific to a location: security, accessibility (especially those living in mountains) and so on. We spend weeks on fundraising, and all the funding goes to donations; we shoulder our own expenses (commuter fares, accommodations) during these trips.
Our main event is usually a half-day program where we give out school supplies or other basic items such as slippers. For the rest of our itinerary, we explore nearby tourist attractions and/or immerse in the culture of local tribes.
As you can see, we do voluntourism in a way that works for us: we’re basically backpackers who travel with a purpose.
Voluntourism is very fulfilling work, and it’s perfect for people who love traveling and are also looking to find a meaningful way to give back to the community. If I were to give advice for those interested in doing this, it’s to:
(1) start locally, research communities in your country that needs more love;
(2) research the organization you’ll be joining;
(3) know what you’re getting into – being a volunteer is fun, but it’s also a serious commitment.
Katherine is a copy editor and software engineer by day; she travels on her free time with her boyfriend and co-blogger, Hali. Together, they blog about off-the-beaten and beach destinations, as well as voluntourism and sustainable tourism. You can follow her journey on her Facebook and Instagram.
Steffi from Beach Bum Adventure
I think the term ‘life-changing’ sounds very cliche and is pretty embarrassing to use, but to be honest, that is what happened to me! I went backpacking around South East Asia in 2013 and completely fell in love with this part of the world.
The friendly people, the completely different culture, the activities – like diving and visiting elephant sanctuaries, the wildlife, such as monkeys and giant monitor lizards, the range of nature from jungles, and mountains to stunning beaches and islands – all of it excited me. I learned to scuba dive in Koh Tao, Thailand and suddenly felt this whole world had opened up to me. It seemed incredible that you could breathe underwater and see the colors of the corals and rainbow fish. (And once I got more into it: squid, cuttlefish, luminescence lighting up, manta rays and sharks).
Everywhere felt so different from Europe and I felt that I was on this ongoing learning curve about cultures and countries and history.
Whatever it was, something really touched my heart. A year later, I was packing again. This time not a backpack but two giant suitcases as I had landed a teaching job in Bangkok, Thailand.
You can find Steffi cruising around Asia on her Instagram.
Truth is, there isn’t a perfect time to travel.
But there is the right time to travel.
Let go of the excuses and the doubts and the second-guessing and the regrets.
Start planning your adventure now.
Possibilities are endless.
Get up and go.