How much, Travel budget

How much money is really needed to travel the world?

May 6, 2016

“it’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits” –Charles A. Jeffe

Money is a drug, that is something everyone knows. But unlike other drugs, it’s not enough to have it. You have to know what to do with it before it does you any good.

Most commercials know this very well and hence work on exactly that point. If you buy me, you’ll be happy. Your life will be better. And we usually believe them. And buy. And there’s a momentary high. And then you have to buy something else to get another high and so on and so on.

When dreaming of journeys, travels, experiences not of this world, there’s no choice but to set free of that way of thinking. Rehabilitate. Blog after blog written by experienced travelers from all over the world talk about a basic understanding of money as a tool for buying experiences, nothing more.

Rolf Potts writes about it in his book Vagabonding :

.“Of all the outrageous throughaway lines one hears in movies there is one that stands out for me. It doesn’t come from a madcap comedy, an esoteric science-fiction flick, or a special effect-laden action thriller. It comes from Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street’ when the Charlie Sheen character- a promising bigshot in the stock market- is telling his girlfriend about his dreams ‘I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and get out of this racket’, he says, ‘I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China’.

“When I first saw this scene on video a few years ago, I nearly fell out of my seat in astonishment. After all, Charlie Sheen or anyone else could work for eight months as a toilet cleaner and have enough money to ride a motorcycle across china. Even if they didn’t yet have their own motorcycle, another couple of scrubbing toilets would earn them enough to buy one when they get to china.

The thing is, most Americans probably wouldn’t find this movie scene odd. For some reason, we see long-term travel to faraway lands as a recurring dream or an exotic temptation, but not something that applies to the here and now. Instead- out of our insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payment on things we don’t really need- we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called “lifestyle,” travels become just another accessory- a smooth edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture”.

How much money is really needed to travel?

In order to look at this question from the right perspective we first need to ask a few more questions.

How much money does our routine maintenance cost? Bills, taxes, mortgage, insurance, cables, vehicle (including fixes, fuel, and parking), college/school fee and expenses/babysitter, housemaid (including cleaning materials), lawn. All those ‘invisible’ expenses we don’t even see.

How much money do we spend for nothing, supposedly, on gathering things that 95% of the time we don’t use, or things we bought only because they were ‘on sale’?

How much money do we spend on things we don’t really need, but the very act of buying makes us feel good (how many bugs do you need? How many shoes? Coats? Jeans? Wine glasses? Silverware? Vases? Decorative pillows? Types of lipstick? Smelly nothings for the bathroom? And more and more…)

And the most important question: what of all these things really makes us happy? On our deathbed, when we look back in nostalgia, what of all these things will make us smile? Laugh? Get excited?

If we go back to the original question, how much money is really needed to travel, the answers are many. Just for example, there is a family of three that has been travelling the world for a few years on 23$ a person a day. Another family, Israeli, of four, is travelling for 15 years on an average of 850$ a month. Us, we’re travelling on an average of 15$ a person a day.

The most important thing about the money issue is the decision that it is possible.

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