I haven’t traveled out of the country in 5 months.
Wait, it gets worse. I don’t even have a trip planned.
And really, considering that 60 percent of Americans don’t have a passport, it’s not like this is unusual for most people.
Thing is that I don’t run in normal circles. And if you’re on this blog, you’re likely besting the norm too.
So, not traveling is abnormal for a group of people who stay up late looking for flight deals and sharing them within exclusive WhatsApp groups and group texts. Just the other day, one of my favorite people from the Nomadness Travel Tribe shared a flight deal to Athens, Greece for $392 and instructed the people who didn’t buy to not “talk to me EVER AGAIN.”
Now, she was only joking (partly) with that warning, but true to our calling, person after person responded to the post, coordinating dates, and booking trips.
My hands itched to buy. I even reached out to a few of my travel partners to check their availability. But ultimately, I didn’t book.
I think this is what they call adulting.
I’ve had a mental shift and it’s come with this uncomfortable friction between two of my goals.
On one hand, I must live an epic life. I am committed to conquering fear and enjoying activities and attractions that push boundaries and make my heart race. Conquering a ridiculous bucket list that motivates my family to travel and gives me unbelievably awesome stories to tell is my dream.
I created a list of spectacular adventures like skydiving in a wingsuit, cattle-driving in Idaho, and dog-sledding with the Inuit of Nunavik. The thing about extraordinary pursuits is that they are extraordinarily expensive.
Earlier this year, I would have hunched my shoulders and pulled out my credit card. Scrimping on transportation and lodging, I tossed budgets aside once at my destination. I wanted my trip to be motivated by experiences instead of spending money. I cringed at prioritizing having money over having memories.
A Suitcase Full of Travel Debt
Which is why after my most recent trip, my credit card debt teetered dangerously close to five digits. And this was after paying off the credit card just a year earlier!
Sure, the average American family holds tons of debt and from that perspective, I should have been comfortable with credit card debt, but I don’t have an average mindset about finances. That debt felt uncomfortable and irresponsible, so I started putting every penny I could muster towards paying it off.
I also explored ways to revamp my investment accounts, including investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
This summer, I was fixated on learning more about bitcoin and devoured as much information as I could about the topic. I won’t tell you to invest, but I will encourage you to do some serious research to explore the technology. You might be surprised by what you find.
My financial motivation rests solely on a desire to control my time, to have the freedom to experience life on my terms.
I have never had career aspirations. Instead, I’ve always wanted to be a housewife, managing my home and family under an umbrella of love. And yet, I find myself working and hustling and not much closer to the freedom I crave.
Freedom: the ability to do what I want, when I want, wherever I want, with who I want, for whatever reason I want.
That type of life doesn’t come cheap.
To buy that type of freedom, to be able to enjoy a lifestyle that fulfills my wildest dreams, I need money. Lots of it.
Which brings me to my discomfort.
Making and investing money contends with my desire to spend on epic experiences.
I get so uncomfortable thinking about how spending money on a great trip means that I don’t use that money to make a wise investment that contributes to the freedom I desire.
I’m searching for the perfect balance.
Ultimately, stepping into this new lifestyle of better decision making requires creativity, discipline, and mindfulness.
As a travel blogger, I have more resources for getting free or discounted flights. I’ve done this by leveraging flight deals and mistake fares, using miles gained from travel with my 9-5, and jumping on flight vouchers from oversold flights.
To reach my financial goals, I need to make plans, in the same way, I plan to reach a travel destination.
Creating specific goals and actions to reach financial goals ensures that I will achieve the future I envision. Monitoring my goals also lets me feel better about enjoying my money after I’ve taken all the steps necessary to reach my dream.
My credit is only used to make money and not to buy experiences.
I cannot use my credit card unless I am using it to gain the cash back rewards and I have the money to pay the balance as soon as the billing cycle closes. If I don’t have the cash to buy a flight, I can’t buy the flight.
This restriction means, it’s time to seriously and intentionally start funding my travel savings account so that I have allocated money to buy flight deals when they are available. It means accepting the reality that many of my world traveling friends will literally travel circles around me until I save enough money for a trip. The hardest part is turning down trip invitations from my friends.
Discipline also involves keeping FOMO in check. This one is easier. I just have to stay off of social media!
Travel is an investment. And I must be as smart in my travel investments as I am in my financial investments.
There are no cutting corners to live a fabulous life. The race is best won by slow and steady movement and I have to be willing to make decisions that others aren’t willing to make, to live a life everyone won’t be privileged to live.
It might not always be comfortable to push past my instinct to have what I want right now, but the discomfort will ultimately be worth it.
Nothing is promised and I will live the best life I can today within my means and while working towards my dreams.
And I’m sure this decision will make for the most comfortable future.
Am I alone out here? Or have you gone through your own struggles in deciding how much to travel and how much to save?