How Travel Has Changed My Priorities
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 a week 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.
You might also enjoy:
- On Living a Non-Traditional Life
- Real Travel Budgets from Around the World
- How I Make Money Online and Travel Up to 4 Months a Year
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January 31, 2011 @ 12:28 AM
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January 31, 2011 @ 12:32 AM
Well said. I could not agree more on every single point!! The only catch for me, comes when I need to upgrade equipment or something is lost (usually during traveling) and I have to replace a lens or accessory for my photography. It always pains me. I’d rather buy a plane ticket! Yet for me, photography and travel are so intertwined … I make it work. No new pair of shoes can match my love for those stamps in my passport!!!
January 31, 2011 @ 7:21 AM
I totally agree about your camera equipment. Sucks to have to spen the money on it but it’s essential to your travel experience. Definitely not the same as a new pair of shoes!
January 31, 2011 @ 12:39 AM
Traveling (especially not having a job while I was doing it) has definitely made me reevaluate my spending. Not only is not buying that pair of cute shoes a good way to help me save up for travels — but I also don’t have any room in my bag for cute shoes! I’ve been back in the States for almost two weeks now and I’ve been really tempted to go out & buy lots of new stuff now that I can find clothes that fit me, but I’ve done a really good job of holding back. I don’t think I would be doing such a good job if it wasn’t for this past year of traveling. I guess even non-budget girls such as myself can learn to be frugal if it means we might be able to get another plane ticket out of the deal!
January 31, 2011 @ 7:24 AM
I imagine traveling long term & not having a job for that long would change my spending habits even more. Proud of you for resisting shopping splurges since you’ve been back!
January 31, 2011 @ 2:43 AM
Yay for being a FRIENDS lover too!!! I would have to agree with just about everything you said. Like you I also held on to clothes I hadn’t used in years, since I didn’t fit in it anymore I sold most of it or donated it. About TV for me that is such a sensitive subject I am a huge tv junkie and know I am not going to miss it while I am on the road but I know once I come back I am going to want to catch up and well I plan on being away for over a year. Thats going to be a lot to catch up on but who knows maybe I come back and will hate tv. Its funny how saving money for something we want so bad will make us change our habits.
January 31, 2011 @ 7:28 AM
I thought about you while I was writing the TV parts. I’m convinced you’ll care less about TV when you’re traveling & probably won’t care as much when you get back either. Travel changes you in so many ways. Although for you maybe that means your 20 shows get cut down to 10 🙂
January 31, 2011 @ 5:32 AM
I broke down and bought a few new shirts the other day. After going a year without any new clothes, I needed a pick me up to make me feel sexy and cute. And believe me, they stare at me whenever I open my closet to look for a shirt. “I could have bought x and x.” My jeans have finally had it. My curvy self wore in the inevitable thigh holes. And you know what? At this point, I’m like, well, I’m not taking jeans ANYWAY on my trip. It can wait until I get back.
I think we’re going crazy. Together.
January 31, 2011 @ 7:30 AM
You’re right, sometimes you just need something new to get you through. I totally get your comment about not wanting to buy new jeans. Right now I don’t even want to replace light bulbs!
January 31, 2011 @ 6:46 AM
My priorities have drastically changed as well. It’s so much easier for me to justify not buying new clothes when I start thinking about packing them all up and what I will and won’t need in my next destination.
I am known for using “broken” things that are still functioning as well. I just can’t be bothered to spend all that money on a new TV or some other gadget we don’t need if mine is still working! Luckily while we’re in Italy we get a lot of hand-me-downs from my boyfriend’s parents! A luxury I need to take advantage of while I can!
January 31, 2011 @ 7:31 AM
Totally agree! Italian hand me downs sound like a good plan to me!
January 31, 2011 @ 1:40 PM
do you ever see your self settling down in an area for a period of time
January 31, 2011 @ 10:21 PM
I’m settled down in Atlanta right now, I’ve been living here for years. I just fit the travel in whenever possible. I could never be a perpetual nomad.
January 31, 2011 @ 8:30 AM
Love it <3 Glad u have found something that you enjoy so much in life <3 It was okay to miss GA games this year… we sucked! hehehehe
January 31, 2011 @ 10:33 AM
Ha! It was an appropriate year to stop paying attention to the Dawgs!
Leslie (Downtown Traveler)
January 31, 2011 @ 10:34 AM
I can relate. I was a TV junkie before my RTW trip, and it freed me from my long list of shows to watch. However, since I’ve been back in the US I’m falling back into old patterns 🙂
January 31, 2011 @ 12:56 PM
I can imagine it would be easy to fall back into watching all that TV. Just means it’s time to hit the road again!
January 31, 2011 @ 10:39 AM
Haha! I was laughing when I read your comments about your TV. Would you believe my boyfriend and I are on our THIRD hand-me-down TV? We both live in the US, but travel a lot to see family and friends in Europe, Egypt, and China, so that’s where all our money goes. The first TV was a tiny one left to Marco by an exchange student. The second TV was from a friend who moved in with his girlfriend. They out of a sudden had 3-4 TVs. Their smallest and most useless to them was almost double the size of our first, so we got it. A little while ago, some friends got a new flat screen TV and subsequently moved. Guess who got their old TV? 🙂 It’s actually very nice and big 🙂 I feel somewhat cheap, but I really couldn’t care less about the size of my TV, so I just never buy new ones.
January 31, 2011 @ 12:57 PM
That sounds like a good hook up! No need to buy a TV with friends like that!
Lauren Rains @ TheMadtoLive
January 31, 2011 @ 1:07 PM
I totally relate. I get into a lot of trouble with my friends here though. They want to know why I don’t want to go to the most expensive bar or restaurant in town, or why I can’t do the weekend trip in Vegas just to party, or why I would rather not buy extra “toys”.
And I try to explain that if one of my biggest priorities in life is to explore the world, then that’s where my money goes. Buy a $12 cocktail pains me because that’s 2 nights at the hostel in Kuala Lumpur. (I will say by the way that the one I stayed at in KL was $4.50 a night and it was the nastiest hostel I ever stayed in – like a set from the movie SAW haha. My room was a prison. But hey it was 4 buxx! haha).
I guess with anything in life, your priorities are yours, and not everyone is going to be in line with them, ya know
Cheers to having your own priorities so figured out! some people never even get that far!
January 31, 2011 @ 10:19 PM
Exactly, the memories from that crappy hostel will last a lot longer than a random night at a bar.
Andi of My Beautiful Adventures
January 31, 2011 @ 10:34 PM
It’s all about priorities! Traveling has definitely changed mine as well and I definitely live a more fulfilling life now.
January 31, 2011 @ 10:50 PM
February 1, 2011 @ 4:28 PM
I am with you on the TV thing. I just don’t care. The only shows I do watch these days are all travel related. I can’t remember the last network TV show I have watched. For me, it’s not so much travel that has changed the way I do things but priorities in life. For you, travel is that priority. However, to speak that way about college football is just blasphemy!! It’s the one sport I watch every year. And yeah, GO GAMECOCKS!!! 🙂
February 1, 2011 @ 11:00 PM
I do still care about my GA Dawgs but I don’t arrange my life around it anymore. Could be a coincidence that we had a really bad season this year. Might try to watch Amazing Race when it starts again in a few weeks.
February 1, 2011 @ 6:27 PM
I believe that traveling widens perspective and it gives the opportunity to see what’s really important in life. And most of those who travel quickly realise that possessions are not those important things. And this is what I love most about traveling – you learn about yourself and about life.
February 1, 2011 @ 11:01 PM
So true Magda! Thanks!
February 3, 2011 @ 7:30 AM
Well put! One thing that always surprises me is how simply terrible most of the tv shows seem when I return from a long trip. If you go without tv for at least a few months, the shows you used to love seem so incredibly lame, and poorly acted. Not sure what that phenomenon is all about! (And it doesn’t take long for you to re-acclimate and start enjoying them again.)
As for the new toys, I totally agree. I know a lot of people rave about having iPhones on the road, but I just can’t get myself to upgrade my ancient cell phone that still makes calls. That’s all I really want from a phone – imagine that!
February 3, 2011 @ 1:37 PM
I will admit I have an iPhone but I won’t pay the crazy expensive international fees to use 3G overseas.
February 5, 2011 @ 6:52 AM
I agree. Material things stop being important once you start to travel. You realize it`s basically better to visit and observe something great than waste money on something worthless.
February 5, 2011 @ 9:17 AM
I totally agree! Thanks Irina!
February 12, 2011 @ 3:52 PM
Amazing post, girl. This is exactly what I’ve been going through. I’ve had to buy some clothes for my new job, but I hate doing it and wear my outfits over and over again. Half my house is empty (I’m only in a house because of my two dogs who came home with me from my travels!), and I just don’t want to spend money on furniture. But I booked my plane tickets for my next two trips without blinking an eye. Anyway, loved this!
February 12, 2011 @ 4:46 PM
Yep, I have just enough clothes for work to get me through the week and then I start over. Nice to know so many people on the same page as me!