Updated: February 25, 2020
I recently stumbled upon a quote that says, “Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.”
I can’t help but shake my head at how misguided this advice is.
Yes, I agree that travel is one of the best things you can do. However, I believe that it should be done responsibly and with careful regards to one’s personal finance.
I’ve met someone who spent all his income on travel.
For around seven years, he traveled around the Philippines and several countries in Europe and Asia. It seems that he’s having the best time of his life.
Then one day, he was diagnosed with a critical illness.
With no savings, he constantly asked for financial help on social media; and was able to afford treatment only through the monetary donations of his family and friends.
Among all the lessons he learned from traveling, he shared that the most important one was the lesson he learned during his trip to the oncologist:
“Life is uncertain, and while it’s important to enjoy it today, you must never ignore the value of preparing for the future.”
The Infinite Number of Shades of Gray
In Episode 7 of The 80 Percent podcast, I talked about the infinite number of shades of gray — a metaphor to the choices we often face in life.
Most people think that the choice is only between traveling and enjoying life today OR saving your money for the future. It’s either A or B, yes or no, black or white.
But the truth is, there’s an infinite number of shades of gray — a point somewhere in the middle, which can make both choices possible.
That is, to travel now AND save for the future. And I’ve met several people, which includes myself, who have successfully done both.
Travel AND Save: How To Do Both
Hustle with a side gig
If you listened to the podcast episode, then you already know the story of one of my friends, who works as a wedding photographer assistant for his side gig.
Everything he earns from his freelance work goes to his travel fund. And sometimes, he’s able to travel for free when they have an out-of-town wedding shoot.
On the other hand, he makes sure that he keeps a portion of his salary from his office job as his savings and investment fund.
Be location independent
Many travel bloggers work as an online freelancer. They’re digital nomads who can make money anywhere as long as there’s an internet connection.
This kind of lifestyle allows them to travel during off-peak seasons, when costs are low. And visit less-known and thus, more affordable destinations.
Travel will always be part of their budget, but they don’t ignore the importance of saving and investing a portion of their freelance income.
Leverage business trips
Whenever I do out-of-town speaking engagements, I normally ask the host to extend my return flight by 2-3 days. This way, I’ll have time to enjoy the town or city where I’m at.
With plane ticket costs out of the equation, I don’t have to spend as much, and could definitely afford to put more money towards my savings and investment fund.
As you should realize, it is not impossible to achieve that goal of both traveling today and saving for the future. They key is to find the proper balance that allows you to do both.
Yes, you should travel. It’s one of the best things you can do while you’re young.
But don’t ignore the importance of saving and investing for your future. Because life is uncertain, and you have to prepare for what might come.
Create a travel fund, allocate a portion of your income towards it, or find a side gig that will pay for your travels. And if there’s an opportunity, leverage your business and work trips.
And whatever you do, always have the financial discipline to set aside money for your savings and investments. Don’t spend all your income on travel.
Because as much as it is important to experience and enjoy life today, it’s also important to arrive financially prepared at your future.