Travel has been important to me since I was 14 and took my first trip overseas. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly found my passion (and addiction) for travel. After 8 years without leaving the country, I went to Greece for my first solo trip. Ever since, I’ve been trying to fit more and more travel into my life. Realizing that this costs money, it’s changed the way I look at my spending habits, and it’s made me reevaluate what’s important to me.
I had this old, 19 inch, hand-me-down TV for years. You know, the kind with the wood paneling on the sides. People would laugh and tease me about it when they came over, but I never felt the need to replace it as long as it still worked. It seemed wasteful to spend a few hundred dollars on a new TV when that money could be used for the next trip. Eventually the picture started getting discolored and messed up at the top, and I did cave in and buy a 32 inch flat screen. But that was after months of being in denial that the old TV was just fine. When I did finally plunk down $450 for the new one, it pained me. That’s more than half a plane ticket to Europe, or 40 nights at the hostel I stayed at in Kuala Lumpur. But I rationalized that spending nights in watching movies or my “Friends” DVDs for the 100th time on that new (and functioning) TV was cheaper than going out drinking every weekend like I did in my early 20s.
Like most females, I like having new clothes. It gets boring wearing the same outfits over and over again. Also, like most women, I have tons of clothes in my closet I’ve been hanging onto for years but haven’t worn in years. So I decided, no more frivolous shopping. When the black dress pants I’ve worn for 3 years are starting to look rough, I’ll go buy a new pair, but I do not go to the mall just to add to my closet. A new shirt I don’t need? That’s probably 5 days worth of food while on the road. Cute new shoes? The cost of my easyJet flight from London to Prague. And they’ll probably give me blisters anyway.
Aside from money, I’ve started looking at other things differently as well. I used to have a list of shows I’d watch on TV each week, without fail. But sometimes it’s hard to keep up with TV when I’m traveling. A couple years ago I took a 3 week trip to Chile, Argentina and Antarctica. That’s a lot of shows to try to catch up on after returning. I’m also a huge college football fan (University of Georgia, in case you’re curious) and I used to hate missing a game. This season, I missed 3 regular season games plus the bowl game because I was out of the country those days. Even when I was home and watched the UGA game, I didn’t pay attention to the other games, when in the past I would watch 2 or 3 games in a day. It’s just not that important to me anymore.
The experiences I gain from traveling are worth far more to me than new clothes, new gadgets, or new things for my home. Traveling is worth missing a TV show for, and when I’m not traveling, I’d rather be working on my blog or planning the next trip than keeping up with whatever the hot new show is. I’ll gladly spend $85 on a new backpack that will make traveling a little easier, or $100 on an amazingly fun day tour in Australia. Those travel memories are more valuable that money can buy.