Traveling is something I’ve always wanted to do but never thought I would be able to. I used to see pictures of my friends in the Bahamas or backpacking through Europe and I always wondered how they could afford to do it. I figured their parents must be giving them money. But then I recently sat down and chatted with one of my friends that I hadn’t seen since high school that has been traveling all over the world for years and he shared his secret with me. He shared how it is possible for him to take an African Safari for 3 weeks followed by a cruise around the Mediterranean. I was shocked to find out that he had not received a dollar from his parents for his travels to date. Nope, they key to traveling the world is just a simple answer really. He prioritizes travel.
It made sense after he said it. He drives an old Toyota Corolla from the 90’s. It isn’t fancy but its paid for and it gets him from A to B. He’s had his iPhone 4 for over 3 years now and doesn’t feel the need to keep up with the latest and greatest technology. He hasn’t actually shopped for clothes in over a year, except for maybe some new underwear. But that’s only when he needs it. He really doesn’t have many materialistic items at all. He doesn’t collect anything or have a bunch of knick knacks lying around. And because of this, he has the money to be able to travel. He isn’t just some lucky, rich kid. He makes sacrifices, and because of these sacrifices, he is setting off on a round the world trip for one year in November, traveling to destinations that I’ve only seen in my dreams.
Talking with my friend not only influenced me to gain the utmost respect for this brilliant man, but it also inspired me. It made me reflect on my own life and my priorities, my values. What do these material items that the media makes you feel are so important really mean anyway? Do they make you “happy”? Maybe temporarily. Do they make you “cool”? Only until the next greatest thing comes out and you fall behind again. Do they take you far in life? I guess that depends on what success means to you. Success to me means being happy in life. Not just sometimes, but every day. Working to keep buying bigger and better things only to have to work harder does not sound like my version of happiness. Eating Thai food from the markets in Chiang Mai and climbing an active volcano in Indonesia to watch the sunrise sounds like happiness. That is what success is to me.
This life-changing chat with my friend inspired me to prioritize my goals. I won’t be buying the new iPhone 6 like I originally planned and was actually really exited about. For some reason, that excitement faded. I’m trading my 2 year old Ford 150 for an older, more fuel efficient car that not only will I be able to pay in full for from the money from my truck. But I will cut my insurance and gas money nearly in half. I decided to get rid of my DVD collection – its not like I ever watch them anyways. I made a pretty good chunk of money. I sold my old Yamaha outdoor speakers that were just lying around my garage and I hadn’t used in years. I made quite a bit of easy cash cleaning out the junk from under my bed and my closet. All stuff I hadn’t looked at in years. Not only was I able to save up a nice little piggy bank, but the feeling of ridding the clutter from my life was refreshing.
With this new change in lifestyle, I am now embarking on my first trip outside of the country later this year. I will be getting my first stamp on my passport when I land at the airport in Rome, Italy – a place that I’ve always dreamed of going. But I’m not going to stop there. I’m already making plans for Christmas next year to get my second stamp on my passport. I figure I will make it a tradition. I hope that by writing this peace, I will inspire someone else to do the same that one conversation with a friend did for me.