As somebody who has given up quite a bit to travel and lead the life I do, there’s only one phrase I hate to hear more than “You’re so lucky”, and it generally starts with “I’d love to travel, but…”
There’s always going to be an excuse as to why you can’t or shouldn’t travel. Maybe you’ve got debts. Maybe you’ve got kids. Maybe you’ve got a medical condition that would make it hard.
Whatever the excuse, it is precisely that – an excuse.
There’s nothing wrong with choosing not to travel, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with choosing not to travel long term like some of the below (and myself) do.
But if that’s your choice – own it. I’m sure I’m not alone in being sick of hearing people rattle off excuses why they can’t lead a more enjoyable and exciting life.
“I’m Too Shy” & 25 Other Bullshit Excuses Not to Travel
For this month’s Traveller’s Tell All, I reached out to as many seasoned travellers as I could and I got not only their ‘favourite’ excuse, but also a valid counter-argument to that excuse.
I got so many responses that I’ll have to spread them over a few pages, so don’t forget to click through to the next page.
“I wish I could do what you do” – The Traveling Waitress (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram)
The biggest excuse for not traveling I hear is not so much an excuse but a statement.
This is said to me by every different walk of life from wealthy high end businessmen, to my doctor, to fellow servers and even my family. YOU CAN! I didn’t inherit millions, I don’t travel for free. I work hard and orchestrate my life to be able to travel as much as possible. It is about how much you want something and I don’t want anything more then travel.
Can’t afford it? When friends invite you out for a drink after work say no, think about having a drink on the beach or patio of the destination instead.
Can’t take the time off work? Work one Saturday a month and bank the time, before you know it you will be able to take a paid week off. In an industry where you don’t get paid time off ~ like a waitress? Work your butt off to save for your trip, put up photos of where you want to go to remind yourself of why you are doing this. Put all of your change in a jar EVERYDAY. You won’t notice the missed change but it will soon add up to a plane ticket.
Have a parent, pet, loved one to take care of? There are a number of options available to you. When leaving my Grandmother who I looked after I had seniors for seniors come in a take her out for groceries and I had my friends call her everyday so she wouldn’t feel lonely. When leaving my beloved dog who had a heart condition and needed medication twice a day, I took her to a very dear and loving friends house who I trusted. There are always options. You can travel, it just depends on how badly you want to.
“I can’t travel. I need to go to college” – One Travels Far (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram)
The biggest excuse I’ve heard is “I should go to college”, and often these people don’t even want to study, or don’t know what they want to study.
I took a gap year and did Camp America when all of my friends went to university, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve now been traveling and living in different countries abroad since I was 21, and all of my friends who went to college have now graduated.
The problem with going to college at 18 is you often have no idea what you want to do with your life. Many of my friends have huge student debt and are in jobs which have no relation to their degrees since they studied because they felt they should, or took courses they were interested in with no thought to the job market in their fields.
I’m now considering studying in a couple of years, and I think my life experience and age will make it far easier and more rewarding. I’m glad I took my early twenties to explore the world and didn’t go along with the crowd since university will always be available, and people are now studying later than ever.
Just because you choose to defer college for a year or two doesn’t mean you’re harming your career prospects- in fact, travel, volunteering and working abroad often help you stand out to potential employers and look great on your CV. Plus you might just find your passion while you’re learning about the world.
Editor’s Note: I won’t ever say I regret going straight to university after high school, as I had a great time studying theatre with my friends and learning more about myself.
I recently made the decision to go back to school and study tourism management, and I wish I’d had this foresight when I’d been choosing a degree as a naive 18 year old. I chose theatre because it was what I was good at and I had no better ideas, but I really wish I’d chosen something more applicable all of those years ago. Travel really does open up your eyes.
“I don’t know where to go” – One Weird Globe (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram)
It’s a big world out there, A couple hundred countries, thousands of cities, and an entire shelf of Lonely Planets at the bookstore. Where does one even start?
Start with dreams and fantasies. Yup – anytime you’ve said ‘I wish I could go to the Eiffel Tower’ or ‘I’d love to visit my friend in South Africa’, that counts. Search your Facebook or Twitter, replay conversations you’ve had with friends, or take a look at a world map to jog those memories. Think food you’ve wanted to try and an experience you’ve wanted to have as well.
Get real for a second. Before you get lost in la-la land, let’s pause to consider reality. Some countries are more expensive than others. In others, it’s frikkin’ cold (or hot or rainy) this time of year. When’s the right time to go, and will you have the coin once you arrive? You can make it on $20 US a day in a place like Bangkok, but you’d have to really work to spend less than $100 US a day in Switzerland (here’s how to save money in Switzerland).
When in doubt, roll a dice. Hopefully getting real has narrowed it down a bit. How close are they? Hitting up Germany after a few days in France is easy. but getting to Argentina from Japan takes some more time and thought. Factor in how long you have, and budget an extra day every couple of weeks for traveling or to take a break. Traveling’s hard work!
“How can I pack my life into one bag? – Nomadic Boys (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram)
We set off in June 2014 for our 17 months adventure in Asia. After many many years of talking, planning and saving for it, we were finally ready.
But the main anxiety for us, how on earth do you fit in your entire life in just a 70 litres backpack? What about all those outfits, shoes, toiletries etc etc.?
After plenty of research (and dummy test trips with the backpack) we quickly realised you don’t actually need that much with you. You can buy most things you could possibly need in most places you visit and shoes, you only need one trekking based one (we do a lot of it), which you wear and a spare pair of trainers, which goes in the backpack.
Now the aim is to try to get this to an even smaller size for our next big trip!
“I can’t speak the local language! They won’t understand me!” – Travel Dave (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram)
Back in high school, I was given the option to choose either French or Cookery, I hated learning languages so much that I opted to improve my omelette cooking skills rather than wooing the French population with my newly adopted language, Did this pay off?
My first solo adventure took me to Finland, I did worry that communication would be difficult, but I quickly learned that the Finnish population from birth learn how to speak English through popular US sitcoms and intensive language lessons throughout their education system (Take that UK!).
This quickly helped me to overcome my fear of learning languages, I still learn the basic 5 words in every country I visit:
- Thank you
- How Are you?
- Good morning
- My carnival monkey ran away from the circus.
These words are the basics, the locals appreciate you taking time to learn their mother tongue, but never get upset that you can’t hold a conversation.
The above words are a sign of politeness, you’ve taken the time to at least try and this has worked for me over the years visiting countless amounts of places.
Don’t let language put you off travel, try to learn a handful and don’t worry if you fluff it up, no one is judging you, they just appreciate the effort of trying.
Editor’s Note: I remember being more than a little apprehensive about moving to South Korea in 2007 for this reason. I left both Korea and China with a smattering of words that more than did the trick on most occasions. I’d sorely like to become fluent in a second language someday, but not being fluent shouldn’t put you off of traveling somewhere. You’d be amazed how happy locals are when you bust out a word or three.
Looking to learn more about how to set and achieve your travel goals? Read Dave’s guide on how to set, plan, and book.
Read on to learn about why lack of finances, fear, or a ‘weak’ passport shouldn’t put you off travelling.