I spend far too much time on Twitter. While I learn a lot and have created an amazing network of friends, I also see a ton of complaining. The complaining is mostly first world problems and it’s almost always annoying.
Recently I saw tweets about how expensive it is to travel so many choose not to do it. These are the same people who feed their animals organic food, lease luxury vehicles and pay for premium cable.
So let’s make one thing clear: traveling for Americans (and Canadians) isn’t that expensive. If you live in a major American city such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York City, long-term travel to almost anywhere will be significantly less than staying put! My last two posts prove this point.
A fraternity brother of mine used to spend every summer of college in Southeast Asia. I asked him how he could afford to do this? His reply surprised me, “It’s cheaper to move to Thailand for the summer than it is to pay rent here (Los Angeles).”
This was a major turning point in my thinking. At the time I had been to Canada, Mexico, and a few European countries but there were many places on my bucket list I thought would be unattainable until I was old and rich.
The next year I moved to Korea followed by Australia. While in Korea, I spent almost all of my vacation days outside the country. With the exception of Japan, everywhere else I traveled in Asia was relatively cheap. I traveled through Southeast Asia on $30 a day, staying in $2 Cambodian hostels and $7 Vietnamese hotel rooms.
A decade ago I spent a month in Europe with a couple of high school buddies. We visited eight cities throughout England, France, Spain, and Italy. The total trip ended up costing me about $3,500 which is on the low end of what most people spend simply staying put.
If you’re an American and your dream is to visit X country, you have little excuse not to do so. Assuming no debt, you can easily travel hack 1-2 international flights per year by signing up for new credit cards. This allows you to only pay the tax and fly for free. Also, check out my friend Robert’s website The Earth Awaits which will help you understand just how inexpensive many places are to live. Some of my recent favorites include Porto for $1,600/month and Medellin for under $1,000/month!
However, the more successful you are in your career, the most expensive your travels become. This isn’t because the trip itself becomes significantly more expensive, your time just becomes that much more valuable. I’ve been working in technical sales for the past five years and vacations are frowned upon. In September, I took my first two-week vacation since moving back from Australia in 2012. My wife and I went to Portugal and Spain. Do you know what happened? I lost at least a couple thousand dollars in commissions! Also, upper management thought I was crazy, “He’s taking two weeks off?!” I guess that unlimited vacation policy has limits.
But you know what, they were right. The first week I was relaxed, the second week I was stressed out about missing my quota. Of course, being an overachiever, I still hit my quota but my commission was significantly less than the previous quarter. That time off is expensive!
Going forward, I’ll only take a week off at a time until I reach FIRE. The first week of the quarter is usually the best time for a quick getaway. I’m in the beginning stages of planning trips to Panama, Cuba, and the Azores for next year. It’s nice to have trips to look forward to, even if it means smaller paychecks. Are you planning any trips for 2018? How valuable is your time off?