How to Overcome the 3 Biggest Challenges to Travel Around the World
Making a trip around the world is a dream for many, but yet so few people actually do it. After I graduated from college I turned a lofty dream into a 42,000+ mile trip of a lifetime. With a bit of knowledge, I believe anyone can do the same.
After college, I decided to put off the "real world" for four months and learn what I could about our massive planet and its diverse people while stopping in every continent (except Antarctica) along the way.
It seems like every time you talk to people about travel, they mention their desire to carry out the all-elusive task of traveling the world. Everyone wants to do it. But unlike things "the cool kids do", not everyone is doing it and I have spent a lot of time wondering why. In this story I will break down the reasons that seem to prevent people from embarking on this experience and how I managed to overcome those obstacles to transform a lofty idea into a 42,000+ mile life-changing journey.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
1. I don't have the time.
Time is a precious luxury that few of us have an abundance of. Between work, school, family, and countless other commitments, it may seem an impossible task to carve out several months (or years) out of your schedule to travel the world. These factors that keep your schedule packed are probably very important and may only warrant smaller weekend or annual vacation trips. One of the many good things about life is that life changes every single day.
Planning a trip around the world certainly does not happen overnight, so when you think of a timeframe that you could squeeze a couple months of travel in, do not be afraid to look well down the road. Think about when you might get a new job, move to a new city, or simply when you will finish what is keeping you so busy right now. All things have starting and ending points, and if you want to travel around the world, you have to make it your responsibility to make travel a priority during these “in-between” times of your life. Along those lines, start planning early, but do not feel like you have to plan your whole trip in one week. Break you trip down into small parts and identify the different stages of planning a trip which I will outline below:
· Where you want to go
· How you are going to get there
· What kind of accommodation you will rely on (camping/hostels/couchsurfing/etc.)
· What equipment you will need (backpack/suitcase, tent, climate-specific clothes, etc.)
· How much budget you will need/Creating a financial goal
· Fundraising methods
· Location specific research
o Places to stay
o Things to do
o Basic language requirements
o Safety precautions
Twelve Apostles National Park, Australia
2. I don’t have the money.
Traveling around the world is not cheap, no matter how much you are willing to rough-it. There are the costs of airfare, food, shelter, transportation, visas, and additional activities. Depending on your style of travel, these can quickly add-up to a total cost that very few of us can afford. As a person who saved up while still in college, I was definitely on a low budget. There is nothing wrong with a low budget, it just means you might have to cut a couple corners.
There are various ways you can cater your epic trip around your budget and I will list some of them below:
· Limit the geographical distance of your trip. The circumference of the globe is approximately 24,901 miles around. Theoretically, the closer you keep your trip to that number, the cheaper your airfare will be. Constantly flying North and South across the equator can add some significant distance to your trip. For example, if you want to tackle both Africa and Europe, you might want to look into flying through Cairo and Barcelona, rather than Johannesburg and Oslo. Flying through larger cities will also yield much cheaper rates than smaller and less-frequented airports. Keeping these geographical concepts in mind could save you thousands of dollars and might make flying much cheaper than you think.
· Avoid expensive countries. This may seem like a no-brainer, but certain countries are way more expensive to travel to than others. As a general rule, first-world countries are expensive and third-world countries are cheap. Check out the exchange rates before you head out and get an idea of how far your currency will go. Always keeping safety in mind, you can really get the most bang for your buck if you are willing to get away from very touristy places.
· Camp when you can. During my travels, I loved being able to check into a hostel at the end of the day and at least having a bed to sleep in. However, if you are somewhere where the weather is good and there are some nice parks or natural areas that you can set up camp, go for it! Better yet, find a national park and enjoy some old-time fun in the wilderness. Obviously this would require you to bring or rent your own camping equipment, so in the early stages of your trip planning, decide whether you will want or need to camp at all and what equipment that will require. If you want to camp in national parks around the world, you may be able to find camping equipment rental places pretty easily so that you don’t have to carry that stuff with you your whole trip.
· Find temporary jobs. If you have time to kill but are running low on money, finding temporary jobs can be a great way to cover some of your traveling expenses, while also getting to experience a more authentic lifestyle wherever you are. WWOOFing is one option, where you work on an organic farm in return for shelter and food. In more touristy places it can be easy to find hospitality jobs at bars, coffee shops, hostels, restaurants, etc. It obviously helps if you know the native language to that country. If you can manage to get somewhere just before their “peak” seasons, that would be an ideal time to snag a job. Another alternative is to work remotely, wherever you are. Many hostels and coffee shops all around the world now have free WIFI and if you bring a laptop or tablet with you, you can set aside some time to do some work online. I met a friend while I was traveling that found a quiet coffee shop a couple of days a week and designed websites for people back in the US. She was able to teach herself the programming skill just before traveling and was able to use those opportunities to cover a big percentage of her traveling costs.
· Cook your meals. As a foodie myself, I completely understand that one of the largest appeals to traveling internationally is an excellent opportunity to try exotic cuisine. However, eating out every meal of the day really adds up, even when food is cheap. If you are staying in a hostel, many hostels have kitchens and some even offer free breakfast. Keep these things in mind when looking around for places to stay. Also, if you start asking around for local markets, they are great ways to find yourself some fresh ingredients to experiment with making your own local cuisine. That kind of falls along the lines, “You can give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but if you teach the man to fish he will eat for the rest of his life.” See if you can get someone to teach you a bit about cooking the local cuisine and you will be able to eat it even when you are back at home. Admittedly, hostel kitchens can get crazy busy, especially around prime dinner time. With this in mind, keep your meals simple. Don’t be the guy that uses 3 pots, 2 pans, and 6 cutting boards to make your extravagant 5 course meal and then does not clean or put anything back. I really do not want to sound like a mom right now, but if you do decide to cook in a public kitchen, please clean your dishes and cooking space after. I cannot stress that enough.
· Walk. Walking is seriously one of the most underrated things you can do when traveling abroad. Not only is it the cheapest mode of transportation, you can see things when you walk that you can never see while in a car, bike, train, etc. Walking places also puts you in a great position to meet and talk to locals. Make sure to ask around ahead of time if there are certain places or certain times that you should avoid walking around in. Along that note, make friends and don’t walk in unfamiliar places alone.
3. I think I really want to travel around the world.
This is sadly the case for so many people I talk to, and was even the case for myself at times. These are the people that see an Instagram post from some far corner of the globe and immediately react “I want to go there!” However, traveling around the world requires much more than just a reaction that is quickly forgotten or placed on the back-burner.
Cape Coast Castle, Ghana
Taking on a trip of this magnitude requires you to accept the fact that things do not go according to plan and that travel is not always glamorous and picture perfect. Travel is long flight-delays, lots of digestive discomfort, and being hustled by tourism opportunity minded businessmen. You need to be willing to accept that all of these things WILL happen, and then still want to see the world in a way you have never seen.
So maybe when looking for the inspiration to give you that burning desire to get on the road, choose a source that is a bit more lasting than a quick social media post from your favorite travel account. While you are planning your trip, read a book about wanderlust and people that have a same burning ambition to see the world for more than just its face value that is portrayed in our news and social media.
I started reading “Dark Star Safari” by Paul Theroux at a point during my travels where I was starting to get exhausted and weary of all things that were dissimilar to the comforts of home. The stories of great discovery, deep discomfort, and pursuit of all things different served as a massive boost for my depleted ambition to explore into unknown territories. I was already super pumped before my trip, but I can’t even imagine how much more stoked I would have been had I read that book before setting off on my trip.
As far as other sources of inspiration go, I would never dare to say that this is limited to only books. Generally, you just want to find things that trigger your emotions, because it is was easier to recall an emotion than it is to recall a isolate thought. If there is one tip I can give to turn your “I want to go there!” excitement, into “I can’t let life go by without going there” determination. This finality in your decision making to travel the world will go a long way.
One other strategy that I used to get myself to completely buy into the idea of traveling around the world was to tell all of the most important people in my life that I was going to do it. I said it so that even when things got busy and doing other things became easier and more fun than planning the trip, I had all of my favorite people surrounding me to hold me accountable. I had never considered myself a liar, so I had a mentality that I refused to lie about the largest goal that I have ever set out for myself. I am sure some people do not need this additional external motivation, but it never hurts to have the support and sense of accountability from some of your closest friends and family.
When it comes to planning and executing a trip to circumnavigate the globe, it is certainly not a walk in the park. There is a huge difference between winging it and planning every detail, so it is up to you to determine your style of travel. At the end of the day, everyone that feels the need to do this in their lifetime can figure out a way to plan a trip around their budget and timeline. Sometimes all we need is a little inspiration and if you know where to look, you might just find yourself on the other side of the world before you know it.
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.