I'd like to share the thought process we went through in executing our plan and talk about the myths and fears that are common in this and following posts. Talk to anyone about traveling and images of laid back days spent on the beach come to mind, now we definitely had a few of these experiences but the message that I want to convey is that our plan was to travel and not be on a vacation. There definitely is a difference between the two, while vacation is usually a short stint at a fixed location, where no real effort is needed planning for food, lodging, sightseeing, and logistic; long term traveling however, is the opposite. When Sabeen and I left, we were in the category of the latter, a conscious decision because we wanted to experience life as much as the locals do and try and see the world through their eyes.
Mentally, we knew we were bound to have difficult days and we did, which I will follow-up with separate entries but also what is difficulty, in our case a voluntary decision to push one's limits with the hope of learning something about ourselves while still cherishing the moments.
OK, if you've read so far, you probably have realized that we had a pretty tight budget and glad for it but its not for everyone, so here is some advice for doing it for yourself regardless of how lavish or shoestring your inclinations may be.
- First of all, clean up your life, I mean get rid of clutter and things you don't need because not only will you feel free but you'll realize you don't need much to enjoy life. We both had one backpack between us and that was plenty. Again, not for everyone.
- Second, get a hold of your spending, we both hate credit cards and only use debit since that way, we can only spend the money we have and if we do go over, the bank will promptly hit us with hefty service charges.
- Third, make savings a priority, I have always kept this as a habit and will pay myself first from my paycheck before I write bills. This way, I know I am focusing on my long term goals and will only spend on other things after I have put money in my savings account.
- Fourth, delay instant gratification, this is hard in a culture such as ours, where the latest fashion, gadgets, etc are always at hand. I don't frequent Starbucks but do once in a while like their coffee but even then, most times I'll deny myself a $3.00 cup of coffee and instead wait to come home, where I can have one for almost free. This also goes for dining out, which is fine every now and then but don't make it a habit.
- Buy stuff that you only really need. This goes in line with lack of clutter but also with grocery shopping. It's an easy habit to buy things for the moment or at the checkout aisle but its amazing all those little items add up.
- Perhaps the most important, having the courage, desire, and motivation to do it. We had many doubts ourselves and will be sharing these in later posts.....