First off, I travel on a budget. If I wanted to drop a couple grand on a fancy/schmancy all-inclusive then I better have already been to and explored that country. When you’re stuck in a resort you’re really not experiencing culture…you’re just being a fucking American, in a posh setting, pretending to be something/someone you’re not (unless you really ARE a posh American, in which case you’re paying for a change of scenery so someone besides your butler can serve you adult beverages…or your child some fancy juice… that’s stupid, too). That life is for SOME people. Just not me.
Yes, sitting on a beach having a hot cabana boy (or girl, if that’s your thing) bring you mojito after beer after mojito definitely has its perks…but my life isn’t a page from the lifestyles of the rich and famous…my travel life is more a middle-aged, single woman, trying to get as much experience out of life as humanly possible before I kill over. I travel so that I can stay humble and open-minded. I travel because I love the cultural experiences I immerse myself into. I travel because once my plane leaves terra firma, I get this giddy butterfly feeling in my chest knowing I’m about to see and do things I’ve never seen/done before and experience things that only a few people in this world do.
So what does a typical over-seas trip look like for me? Let me ‘splain:
Prior to booking, I research my destination. I want to know how the locals do, and what is the best attraction to that site. Yes, typically my locations have some sort of historical relevance. Sue me. I like culture.
Then I book. I look up airBnBs in a vicinity that is within walking distance to (a) the main attraction and (b) nestled enough into the local community that I don’t feel like a tourist. Yes, the max I pay per night is $90 USD…and that’s the high-end. Anything over that is a waste of money I could be using on local food, drink and activity. I don’t like paying ridiculous dinero for a bed I only use max 8 hours out of my stay. My money goes toward experience, not a facking 5 star hotel.
Once I’m in country, I meet my airBnB host/ess, drop my thangs, shower the airplane stank off, then immediately head out to site see. I push myself to the jetlag limits the first and second day of my overseas stays…Word to the wise: DO NOT immediately lay down on the bed and “take a nap.” You need to push through the lethargy to the point of pure exhaustion. In other parts of the world (mostly all parts except US), the locals start their eves really late (i.e. 9-10pm). So, I do what locals do. To an extent. I mean, first day it’s a rarity that I will stay out till 4am with the randoms I meet. I do want to sleep for sure. However, I will forgo my jetlag if the locals and/or travelers I randomly meet want to do something fun and exciting. I tend to just stay in the moment and do as I feel. When I travel, I don’t limit myself…on anything…food, alcohol, entertainment, experience….If it’s all within monetary reason, I’m game.
That’s not to say I can’t afford the “good stuff.” If I want to go sky diving in Croatia (and I did), I’ll drop the euro it requires…It’s an experience and it’s worth the memory.
When I travel, I tend to place emphasis on experience rather than luxury. There’s only so much “local” money can buy you…If you want to get downright intimate (not on a sexual level), then forget you have money (if you do) and act like you don’t. Even if it’s pretend, forcing yourself on a budget keeps life in check…Life is not monetary. Life is an adventure if you so choose to be daring.
So, I get a lot of questions about how I can afford to go to such great places…Well, now you know that I don’t just drop cray dinero on my trips. When I plan, I plan to DO…not to stay. I’m not rich…but I’m not poor…Travel takes more than just money. Travelling is an investment into your well-being. Those who stay within the realms of their “safe-space” will never understand how standing on the edge of a cliff over a Norwegian fjord will scare the living bejeezus out of you and make you feel insignificant to mother nature…those who stay in one place will never have an appreciation of how hiking to the mouth of a 400 foot waterfall in Argentina will make you appreciate the simple things, like gravity…those who don’t step out of the comfort of their familiar won’t get how climbing Kilimanjaro or the 4-day Machu Picchu trek will make you appreciate oxygen, clean water and a shower…
What I’m saying is, my travels are eye-opening. They’re not luxurious. They’re not terribly expensive. What they ARE is humbling. Understanding that you are not the only human on this globe to experience hardship is profound. Even more profound is realizing and understanding that sometimes your hardship is insignificant to the majority of the world…i.e. the orphans that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting in 3rd world nations who have (a) no pencils to write with and (b) no extra-curricular toys/balls/shoes to play with. The things most of us Americans (and some Euros) take for granted are the MOST luxurious things to those who have never experienced, say, shampoo and conditioner. Can you imagine using shampoo for the first time in your life????
I travel because if I didn’t, I would have no clue as to who I am…or, for that matter, how much of a blip on the globe I (and you) truly am (are)…The world doesn’t revolve around me…nor you…nor the Kardashians…I travel because I don’t’ see those fucking Kardashians experiencing real life nor giving to those less fortunate….I travel because I’m trying to make up for the Kardashian-like selfishness…I travel because if I didn’t, I could easily shield myself from the rest of the world and live in a bubble of “Regan.” Who the FUCK wants to be in that bubble????? I mean, it would be mine and I still don’t want to live there.
Travel…I don’t care if it’s 5 miles down the road to a pub you’ve never been into or 3000 miles across the globe. If you don’t put yourself into a position of unease, how will you ever know how great you have it?