So I was reading a blog called The Art of NonConformity (and you should be too!) and got an idea from someone’s comment on a post.
But first some background: I got a couple of speeding tickets last month, I’m trying to move out (read: down payments, plus first month rent) and I’m still trying to pay off my last credit card (and, again, you should be too!). But I work at a hotel that is small and pays me less than the industry average (boo!). Soooo, money is pretty tight.
Here is the idea: I have some life experience. I’ve done a decent amount of travel, met a decent amount of people, and done a decent amount of stuff. So why not sit down and talk with people about anything and everything!? All I need is a sign Let’s Talk! $2 donation and a table to sit at. I’m sure I’ll get some strange looks but that is ok.
I stole the idea from someone else who said it works in cities around high volume areas. It is perfect because this can work in ANY high volume area across the world! Since I don’t really like crowds all that much, I’m going to ask a friend to come along and split whatever we get. I’ll let you know how this turns out.
I am by no means a rich man (queue If I Were A Rich Man a la Fiddler on the Roof). In fact, I am very proud that I was raised in a lower-middle class family (aka poor but hey we all need to feel better about ourselves). Being that I do not have a trust fund and have never been very good at saving my money when I am working, travel becomes tricky. I mean let’s think about it: you have to find transportation to the place you want to visit, a place to stay when you do get there, food to keep you moving, drinks to stay hydrated, pay the costs for those tourist traps you just simply can not get enough of. It can really add up! But this isn’t how I think about travel when I am deciding to go somewhere.
Think of a place. Somewhere you want to go. Maybe you have been there before, maybe you haven’t. Maybe it is only an hour’s drive away or maybe it is on the other side of the world! Do you want to know what the hardest part of getting there is? Telling yourself that you WILL go and WHEN you will do it. That is what holds people back. Most people will talk about that trip to Hawaii with a phrase like, “It would be so nice to go there someday.” But if you start the conversation with yourself about that trip in a positive attitude – letting yourself know what WILL happen – you will work towards that goal. You give yourself an incentive – we naturally try to achieve our goals. You just have to set it.
Now comes the part that I should give you all the ins-and-outs of traveling on a dime. I am sorry to disappoint but I’m really not that well versed just yet, but I’ll give it a try.
* If you plan on going international more than once or twice – choose an airline with a miles rewards program and stick with it. The miles will add up and you can’t say no to a free ticket.
* When you get to where you are going, try couchsurfing.com. There is nothing better than a local taking you to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant for the best Doner you have ever had or that bar that is down three back alleys past the two very questionable looking men with amazingly cheap drinks. If you can’t find a local, look for a hostel. You can meet some pretty interesting fellow travelers and besides, do you really care what the building you sleep in looks like?
* The next biggest bill you might have is for food. If you can’t afford to eat out much when you are home, why bother eating out when traveling? Go to a local market or grocery store and buy something that looks interesting and fresh. My go-to food is a huge loaf of uncut bread and a stick of salami or other meat that can stay good in a book bag without refrigeration. If you are couch surfing, offer to cook a meal from your culture (southern food, Philly cheese steaks or whatever is special to you) and your host will probably in turn cook a traditional meal for you the next night.
So, I’m going to ask you again. Think of a place you want to experience. Can you hear the waves crashing over a beach or the wind blowing through a canyon? Maybe you are thinking of an Italian market or the Great Wall of China. Do you want to go to this place in your mind? I mean do you REALLY want to go? Then Nike that shit – just do it!