Since we we are just getting to know each other, there is something you need to know. I hope you won’t hold it against me…
I have debt. A lot of debt. Tens of thousands of dollars of student debt, despite going to community college first and working part time as a university student and receiving scholarships. Welcome to the modern-day American Dream, I guess. Am I stressed out and bitter? Hell yeah! Am I going to let it stop me from being happy? No, of course not! I have never regretted my decision to attend college. It was a great experience that opened a lot of doors for me. And now that I am in the unbelievably overwhelming process of dealing with it, I refuse to let it hold me back from the next 20 – 35 years of my life until they are paid off.
So....am I wrong?
There are a lot of people that would argue against traveling until debt is paid off. I myself have attended Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class and still practice the budgeting techniques from this class. And while I love everything that Ramsey teaches, I can’t justify passing up travel for the sake of saving just a little bit more money.
So, what DO I do now?
I keep a very tight budget. I have learned to be incredibly organized in order for everything to be paid on time. As a result, I have really good credit for someone my age and know where every penny of my paycheck goes. While this is not very glamorous, it has allowed me to save money for getting on an airplane at least once a year since 2008 when I took my first backpacking trip to Costa Rica.
The hardest part of debt is feeling like it is holding me back from opportunities. So, I don't let it. This is more of a mental/emotional task than it is monetary.
I have always kept some money in savings, and that has saved my butt more than once. I've traveled inexpensively by staying with friends-of-friends or in hostels and taking the cheapest flight, even when it means taking twice as long to get somewhere (time is money!) Now that I am a little older I appreciate staying in nicer places and spending a little more on better flights to maximize my limited vacation time but I loved the hostel environment and would recommend it to anyone on a small budget who is open to a good adventure. I was given free accommodation in exchange for volunteering in Southeast Asia. On a couple of occasions, family and friends have covered my expenses on group trips and this is something I am forever grateful for and hope to return the favor in the future.
What are you willing to sacrifice to catch your dreams? If you want to travel, you are probably going to have to work hard for it and spend less at home. I think life is too short to wait until everything is perfectly in place, because that time may never come.
“There’s more to life than paying bills” – My Mom
“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” – Anthony Bourdain