It is always easy to find reasons not to do something that will improve the quality of your life. Change is scary, so we tend to avoid it at all costs. Traveling to distant countries that you know little about can seem impossible but it is not. It is easier and cheaper to live abroad long term and it keeps getting better every year. Please let me debunk some of the common excuses of avoiding a life abroad.
1. I will lose touch with family and friends.
I have been away from my home country now for more than 12 years. In many ways my relationships with people in Canada are stronger than before. With the Internet and specifically my blog, Skype, Facebook and Twitter, I connect with people far more than I ever did when I was in Canada.
Another benefit with being away for extended periods of time, is that when you do return it is a much more exciting event. My wife and I only return to Canada once or twice a year, so every time we go home we make a point of seeing everyone we can in a short time. Friends and family go out of their way to rearrange their schedules and plan time to meet us. Friends often mention that they see me more than they do their other family and friends in the city.
The same is true when we go to Hungary, my father’s home country. Every time my wife and I go there, we have a big family reunion. Many of my relatives only see each other on those occasions even though they are only a couple of hours away by car.
2. I will miss career opportunities.
Taking six months to a year off of your career is not going to derail your life. If you are really worried, spend the time you are away blogging and connecting with people in your field. Establish yourself as an expert so that when you return your career opportunities will likely improve. Even better, start your own online business doing consulting, freelance work, developing a web application or selling something online. Earn money in your home country and spend it places with a lower cost-of-living.
3. I can’t because I have children.
Long term travelers like Soultravelers3, FamilyOnBikes and Away-Together are proving that travel is the best education for children and it brings your family closer together. Do your children really need to be in the public school system? Is that the best way to prepare them to be global citizens?
4. It is too dangerous.
You don’t flash money around and walk down dark alleys in dangerous neighborhoods in your own city so don’t do it when you travel. Most safety is just common sense. If you are planning a vacation in Iraq or North Korea you can probably expect a little more risk. Most countries in the world are perfectly safe. Avoid shady looking areas at night. Don’t look like a tourist by flashing your expensive jewelery and gadgets around. Don’t put your wallet in your back pocket. And don’t trust strangers that seem to0 nice to be true. In my view, most travel mishaps could have been avoided with a little common sense.
I know of people who have had their passport stolen because they left it on the beach and went for a “short” swim. Or someone whose expensive camera was stolen because they left the room door slightly open because it was too hot. Or people who were robbed after they agreed to go visit an out-of-the-way destination with their new “best friend” they met a couple days prior. You can get robbed in your own city if you do foolish things, so don’t do those same foolish things in a strange country.
5. I will miss the food and entertainment of my own city
This one really shocked me. I saw this excuse in a forum recently. Fortunately, someone replied with the perfect response, “Do you think America is the only country with good food choices?” The rest of the world has amazing quality and variety of food. My personal favorite is Japan, just because they use the freshest and highest quality of ingredients. No country can compare in those regards. In terms of best international food, Thailand has to rank at the top of my list. For the best combination of quality, service and price I would say that Hungary is hard to beat. Unless you like overly processed fast food, most countries in the world will offer a better quality and variety than your home city. There is a whole world out there with real authentic food experiences. Your own country undoubtedly has some good restaurants but nothing compares to the quality and variety you will experience as a traveler.
6. It is too expensive.
In most countries around the world, you can live cheaper and better than you do now. The greatest cost in traveling is likely to be airfare, so the solution is to travel slower. Stay in each location longer to get a better feel for the people and culture. Travel overland whenever possible. And avoid tourist traps if you can. You will always be gouged.
A two week vacation to anywhere, staying in expensive hotels and traveling on tours to expensive museums and restaurants is likely to cost you more than several months of travel on your own in those same countries.
Consider the costs of not traveling.
- You have mortgage or rent payments to make. ($800 per month plus)
- Bills to pay, like utilities, Internet, cable, etc. ($300 per month plus)
- Car fees, including insurance, gas, and maintenance. ($300 per month plus)
- Entertainment expenses. ($200 per month plus)
Already we are at $1600 per month. It is quite easy to travel and live in almost any country in the world on that much money.
The biggest cost that most people can’t see is that you are caught up in a consumer culture. You are buying things to fill your house and keep up with your neighbors. When you travel or live abroad, you completely and immediately lose that materialism because if you can’t fit it in your backpack, it is useless to you. That new leather sofa, 50 inch TV and fancy stereo you have are very cool, but are they really worth being stuck in the same dead end job you hate? Those purchases are keeping you from the world experiences you are craving deep down in your soul.
The cost is not only monetary. How much time do you waste watching TV, looking at ads, shopping for things, caring for things, cleaning things and maintaining things? That is the real cost of a stationary lifestyle. So many people waste dozens of hours every week on unfulfilling pursuits. If you are traveling, that time can all be spent on new, unique and inspiring experiences. This for me is what life abroad is all about. Your speed boat is cool, but I would rather take a ferry in Thailand. It would be great to have that cool motorcycle you have in the garage, but then again I would rather take a bus in France. Your new kitchen appliances are amazing, but I would rather eat at food stalls in Japan.
No More Excuses
It is easier and cheaper than ever to live a nomadic, vagabond or location independent lifestyle and earn money from anywhere with an Internet connection. Stop making excuses and start experiencing the world. Whether you like it or not, we are all global citizens now. National boundaries are only limitations in your mind. Life is about experiences and contribution, not consumption and conformity. JetSetCitizen.com is all about the rise of the global citizen in pursuit of an excellent life. Are you a jet set citizen?