In the last 12 months, I’ve visited New Zealand, UK, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Africa, Egypt, the UAE and the United States. In my home country of Canada, I’ve visited Halifax, Saint John, Montreal, Iqaluit, Ottawa and Vancouver. One of the questions I get asked frequently by friends and family is why I travel so often and how can I afford to travel so frequently and to such far flung destinations. I believe that frequent travel is essential and is within anyone's reach!
Travel should not be a goal that you set aside for retirement. In my relatively short life I've had several health scares that made me appreciate the value of enjoying every moment you have. Who knows how long we'll live in this world, let alone be in the physical condition to enjoy the experiences we have planned.
A critical point to keep in mind is that travel is more than just visiting sunny beaches in the cold, dark months of winter. Some reasons I've travelled in the last several months include:
Visit relatives and classmates I haven't seen in ages
Participating in industry conferences
Attending a close friend's wedding
Enjoy some fun in the sun!
Take advantage of unique hiking/backpacking opportunities
The single most important reason to travel is it allows you to decompress and get away from the daily grind of work. It's easy to get bogged down physically, emotionally and mentally regardless of where you work. Paperwork starts to pile out and projects get closer and closer to their deadline that you are so focused on the task at hand. We become so focused on our tasks that we can't think strategically about the projects we're working on or the career we're plotting for ourselves. Travel allows us to physically separate ourselves from the familiar surroundings of work and home allowing us to break away (at least momentarily) from the regimen we've developed so well. The new experiences we encounter enable us to return back to work refreshed, seeing problems through a new prospective, a phenomenon called vujadea.
Travel also opens your eyes to new cultures and experiences reducing the closed-mindedness and xenophobia that is becoming rampant globally. Consider this: less than half of Americans hold a passport, allowing them travel outside their country. Keep in mind a passport is required for even short jaunts like travelling to Canada. Most citizens don’t venture far from the city they planted their roots and will never encounter new experience or viewpoints outside the comfort zone they’ve surrounded around themselves. Consequently their views on the world and the problems humanity faces are narrow.
Finally, the goal of travelling twice a year is achievable: most employees receive time off during the lull of the summer months and during Christmas break. Contrary to popular belief, travel need not be expensive or painful. All that is needed is to have an open mind and spend some time beforehand planning your next adventure. There are countless opportunities to venture beyond your living room to have diverse experiences without breaking the bank. Travel has also become increasingly inexpensive thanks to the launch of low cost air carriers and budget lodging options like Airbnb.
Over the next couple of days we'll discuss strategies that make travel accessible even for the most frugal backpacker.