Written by Frankie Hogan

Author of Livin’: From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush

www.livintravelbook.com

 

What’s stopping you? You sit at your desk at work or on the couch at home and close your eyes. You see yourself on a desert island or in a Jeep cruising the African savanna. A change. A dream. An adventure. But you haven’t done it, because . . .? Crickets. Just thinking of that place plants a joker’s smile on your face. Yet you hesitate. You let flashes of home and responsibility chip away at that grin until you’re back to looking like the Mona Lisa, wondering what’s for dinner. The fictitious excuses fly around your mind and give the road an unrealistic feeling.

The world has changed. Connectivity has shrunk the planet and brought the unreachable within arm’s length. The list of legitimate reasons not to go is getting as short as a Russian gymnast. In Livin’, I discuss recognizing and overcoming the flawed reasoning that hindered my own travel. I wrote the book to light a fire in others to do the same, but concentrated more on the world that’s out there. To help people get by their own inflated justifications, but didn’t focus on the excuses themselves. So what’s the old saying? “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” Let’s beat shit down the legs of some of these excuses.

DISTANCE

What is this, 1917? The world doesn’t move at Zeppelin speed anymore. You can walk out your door and get almost anywhere in the top six continents within one or two days. I spent sixteen and a half hours on a direct flight from New York City to Johannesburg, South Africa. North America to South Africa in less time than it takes to watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies. Think about how long that trip would have taken a hundred years ago. “It’s too far” lost most of its steam as an excuse when budget international air travel hit the scene.  This reason for not traveling is antiquated.

MONEY

This is the keystone of doubting Thomas’s house. Let’s go into this with the understanding that everyone’s situation is different. I’m not going to tell you everyone could afford every trip. I am going to give you some tips to weaken the money argument enough to make most trips attainable for paycheck-to-paycheck and middle-class folks.

The first tip for budgeting a trip is basic math: You can earn more income. Solve me more complex equations, professor. In the world today, if you have a car you can start working your own schedule with Uber or Lyft tomorrow for extra scratch. You can get paid for surveys or reviewing products online without even getting dressed. Fifty bucks here and one hundred there goes a long way toward a dream trip. When I first got to LA, I did some writing, acting, and audience one-day gigs on top of my nine-to-five, solely to save for trips.

The other half of the solution is to cut expenses. If you’re a night owl like myself, trimming three nights out per week down to one for a couple months saves hundreds. And you don’t miss much. The bar and your people will still be there when you return from India with a wild story and a smile. If you eat out or order delivery a number of times a month, cut that number in half. A steak dinner or pizza doesn’t stay with you as long as a week in Amsterdam will. Have a gym membership you barely use? Run in the park. Use that yoga mat at home. If you’re a sports junkie, going to one home game instead of three can fly you to Europe or Asia. That’s a trade I’ll make every time.

The other tip that beats at the money excuse like a coked-out superhero is using travel websites and budget travel. Travel package pricing has fallen through the floor, especially if you’re flexible with time and location. If you do your research and be patient, you’ll find deals that knock your socks off the side of your ass. I flew to Spain from New York for about $250 roundtrip. That’s less than a roundtrip ticket to LAX. My trip to China from LAX in Livin’ cost under $900 for over a week. Air, tours, and everything else was included. These deals are jaw-droppers, and they’re constantly out there. One of my favorite websites for domestic and international travel deals is Travelzoo.com. That’s a good place to get started. It all adds up. Put a few of these things together and you can see a wonder of the world or experience a culture you never have before.

TIME AND FAMILY

Who has the time? Working forty or fifty hours per week with two weeks of vacation is the norm. And some of that two weeks goes to a cousin’s wedding or a kid’s camping trip. Again, the time is there. You repeat to yourself that you don’t have the time as you plan your yearly family vacation to Palm Springs, Las Vegas, or the Jersey shore. You still choose the normal, forgettable vacation that zaps all of your vacation days over the international adventure because it’s more convenient and comfortable. When someone states, “you spend all your vacation days at Seaside Heights,” you defensively respond, “yeah, but the money.” You know this argument is shit. As we discussed, you can find trips to Europe or Asia for the same amount that you spend on your normal drive to insert-mundane-beach-town-here.  If you can wrap two vacation days around Labor Day weekend, you have more than enough time to fly to Peru and see Machu Picchu. An extra day at Thanksgiving can give you ample time to see the northern lights in Iceland. It’s there.

Traveling with kids is also growing more popular. I was in Cancun at a hotel on the strip on a deal I found. This is Cancun, a party staple. The hotel included a nightclub on site and two bars, but during the day, kids were running around like a Willy Wonka day shift. There were pool activities and bouncy houses blown up on the beach. And it’s not just Cancun. Three pre-teens joined my group tour in South Africa. Two teens were in Vietnam with us. Think of the stories these kids can tell when they get back to class. The point is, many groups and locations have found their family-friendly side.

AGE / HEALTH / COMPANY

Most people over thirty can give one or two examples of things they can no longer do that they did ten years ago. As you get older, that list bloats. But it’s not about what you can’t do. It’s about what you still can do. You know yourself. If you look seriously at your health, don’t start with declines or negatives. Smile at what you still can do. If your only excuse begins and ends with a number, you are shooting blanks. The average age of the people in the group tours I have been on is in the fifties or higher. I traveled to India with a woman who was seventy-four, and India was the seventy-fourth country she had been to. That makes me think, “What’s my excuse?”

One of the last big hang-ups of travel is company. I love the solo traveler experience, which I get into in the book, but if you’re someone who needs a group of family or friends to reach the location you’ve dreamed about for decades, I’ll leave you with this little line from Livin’: “I learned from experience that if you wait for friends to be ready to travel, you’ll never get there.”