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Categorized | Philosophy, Reflection

The Great Myth

Posted on 25 June 2008 by Justin

Originally, I created this information as part of a  static page, but I am trying to cut down on the amount of static pages associated with this site.  Also, I think this information might be read more if it was published as a standard post. – Justin

When I tell someone that Natalie and I are going to spend a year traveling around the world, I receive many different reactions. The more I have thought about it, the more I think these reactions embody a genre of misconceptions that need to be, at least on this site, corrected. To start, if you think that Natalie and I are inordinately special, wealthy, or courageous people you may want to read our bios. The truth is that although we may not be Mr. and Mrs. Cookie Cutter American, we are more or less normal (i.e. we work, pay taxes, grew up in the suburbs, etc.) Perhaps that is why these comments are so interesting.

Example 1

Traveling for a year!?!? That sounds expensive. I will never be able to afford that.

Like you, and much to my disappointment, when I plant a $20 bill in the ground a tree bearing beautiful, green, United States of America $20 does not grow. Even if you make sure it has plenty of water and sunshine this method does not seem to work. That being said, it is true that travel of any kind takes a certain degree of money. The misunderstanding is that the average American cannot afford to spend 6 months to a year traveling the world. Throughout the planning process Natalie and I will write numerous post on how we are saving money for our trip. However, the travel book company Rough Guides produces a book entitled The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World where they estimate that one year backpacking around the world could cost between $10,000 and $100,000. This basically depends on the choices you make in regards to the following items.

  • Travel: How you want to get from one place to another and the level of luxury that you require
  • Accommodations: Do you want to sleep in 5 star hotels or do you want to rent a bed in a hostel dorm room
  • Food: Do you want to eat western style resort food? Do you want to eat from street vendors? Do you want to cook the food that you have purchased from the local supermarket?

In general I am going to say that budget travelers (i.e. Natalie and I) will spend considerably closer to $10,000 than $100,000. (I figured that was a given but just in case it was not…)

Example 2

Working is a way of life and I doubt that my boss will simply hire me back when I return. It will ruin my career if I do this.

I am not your boss and I don’t know how high you want to go up the career ladder. What I do know is that I think people should work to live, not live to work. You may not get your job back in a year and, if you do, you will probably not get promoted as quickly as people who did not take a year off to go see the world. All of that to say, working 40-50 hour weeks 50 weeks a year ( I hope you get 2 weeks “vacation”) so that you can afford to “live” the American dream may not be exactly what you had in mind.

It is likely that after traveling the world for a year you will be able to find another job. This will be a lot easier if you save some “help me find a job and get my life back in order money” that will not be used on your trip.

Example 3

How can I travel the world? I have never been outside of the United States, I only speak English, and heck, I don’t even have a passport!

Lets start with that passport.  Luckily for you the government is in the business of taking your money (about $100 for first time applicants) and giving you a passport. Even better, the government finally got around to joining the information age (okay, they figured it out about 5 years ago) so now you can find all of the information online.

From what I have read, and my limited experience traveling abroad, it is normal to be apprehensive about traveling to a new country. If you spend any amount of time traveling the world (or with increasing frequency the United States) you will run into people who do not speak English. Although this can be frustrating, treating people with respect and not acting like the Ugly American will see you through the tight spots. Now if you do not want to see other cultures and if you do not want to encounter people who cannot understand English,  than clearly world travel is not for you. But if you want to see the world, allowing a language barrier to stop you would be a travesty

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3 Responses to “The Great Myth”

  1. Justin says:

    Ha! Goat washing sounds like it could be intense but it sounds like a excellent kicking time! Now all I need to do is find a goat farmer who is willing to trade cash for a day filled with goat baths. I bet he will want to trade me goat cheese instead.

    Come to think of it….goat cheese might not be that bad of a trade.

    New motto……
    Will Wash Goats for Cheese

  2. Paulie says:

    YES! Great motto! Don’t forget the other goat-themed things you can do for cheese… hats, scarves, sweaters!

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