I find it challenging to balance traveling and a “normal life” everyone expects you to have. There is always a dilemma on what to pick: career over travel, budget over comfort, solo travel or group, jungles or a cultural destination. Personally, I’ve had to make decisions for all of the above. Along the way I came to realization there never will be a perfect moment to travel. You will always have to take a short cut on something. Like saying good bye to the promotion at work, or lose your hard earned at the gym 6 pack, or test boundaries of your relationship. Pick your poison! However, if your desire to explore the world is strong enough, it won’t stop you. Let’s talk about the most common scenarios of the “travel sacrifice’’.
Short on budget, unlimited (or lots of) time to spend
This usually happens when you slammed the door to your now former bosses face and walked away as a free person. As every traveler knows, there is no better rehab for your soul than a new destination. After quickly packing your bags, you are hitting the road. Determined and a bit scared, but deep down knowing you’ve been waiting for this this moment forever! I am guilty on this one numerous times! And I know exactly how it feels. You are most likely holding a one- way ticket and have no clue either for how long you will be gone or where are you going.
I think, the most adventurous trips of your life will happen under this scenario. Your soul is thirsty for the change, but pockets are empty. You will be carefully choosing cheaper flights, night buses, hostels and even the street food. I’m convinced, traveling on this mode pushes you out of your comfort zone further than you’ve ever expected. Making new friends, participating in activities you normally wouldn’t (skydiving, zip-line, swimming with sharks, etc.) and being very open to immerse into the unknown.
However, some things will remain out of reach. Pricey water activities, best restaurants, nice accommodations or convenient transport. You are now officially a budget traveler and entitled to everything what comes with this tag. You watch your wallet, focus rather on food price than a taste, you walk when you can avoid paying for the ride, you think twice before spending your cash. The most valuable resource you have is no shortage of time.
Limited time with comfortable budget
I don’t mean the luxury all inclusive 5 start hotels or Micheline restaurants. In fact, I don’t even consider it traveling, more like vacationing. I am talking about comfortable decent accommodations.
If you are working full time, how much time off do you get? Europeans unlike Americans are lucky on this one. Regular job in USA will give you a miserable 2 weeks off per year. And you are supposed to deal with it! No wander, the scenario above (slamming the door into your now former boss face) happens quite often! haha
There is not much you can do and see in 2 weeks, so you have to plan the time ahead. You end up overpaying or taking a “red eye” flights because you need to get faster to your destination. Every precious day counts. Saving money on accommodations is no longer your main concern. You also don’t have time to get sick, so street food is definitely out of the question.
Every day is tightly packed with the activities and long list of sightseeings. It doesn’t matter if you can’t make two more steps because you’ve just hiked for 3 hours. You must see another building, monument, temple just because there is no postponing it for tomorrow. Tomorrow’s to do list is even longer! You are left with few hours to sleep? Not a problem, you will catch up at home. Your time of is too precious and too short to think about the sleep.
With this schedule you are less likely to desire to meet new people or even talk to a stranger. You just don’t have time for it!
You no longer need to pack a bug net as your hotel surely will be pest free. You also don’t have to be afraid to step on a roach at night because you are not staying at the cheap hostel. You will have hot showers daily without counting it as a lucky day.
You will indulge in trying wonderful foods at the best local restaurants and will most likely splurge on the souvenirs. Creating new memories just got so much easier. The only resource you are running out of is time ….
I am in a process of finding a balance between being a travel obsessed and holding a normal life style. The golden median. The best out of these two life styles. I’ve done both scenarios and plenty in between. I’ve changed countries and cities which I called my temporary home. I’ve tried different jobs from chemistry teacher to dog groomer. I’ve changed my work environments from a fancy skyscraper in Moscow to a wooden cabin in Alaska. Have a found an answer to my question? Not yet. Still traveling, still working, still searching for a perfect solution, wandering if it even exists. The truth is, during long travelings I miss the comfort of home and after not traveling I get itchy feet quickly. I truly think people who found the balance are the luckiest and I am too searching for the peace for my wandering mind. And I know I am not alone. I’ve heard this from many fellow travelers. This journey feels like Alchemist’s from Paulo Coelho philosophical novel: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
I truly hope to find the answer to this question soon. If you are on the same boat, I wish you the same. Meanwile I am booking my next trip soon … 🙂