Last night I visited my grandmother and her sister. They’d just been to an event with friends and they felt defeated.
All the women at this even had travelled. Had lived five years in Venice or three years in London or spent six months in South Africa. My grandmother and her sister have achieved a lot of things – they both had a career in a time where it was unusual for wives to do so, they raised children, had successful marriages – but they didn’t live overseas. They didn’t travel often. They didn’t travel far.
These two women in their 70s and 80s have achieved so much that makes me proud to call them family. But they still felt defeated.
They regret not travelling.
It made me realise that all the finances and problems and finances and uncertainties (did someone say finances?) associated with travelling don’t really matter in the long run. Travelling is precious. How it changes you is invaluable.
Here are some tips to help you get it done. Some come from serious sources like the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website, others from travel-lusters who are anything but serious but know how to have a lot of fun.
Spending money wisely
- Travel out of peak season
- Try for only cabin luggage. Checked baggage is expensive
- Stay away from hotels. Look to hostels and backpacker inns
- Don’t eat at the tourist spots. Choose to dine where the locals are. It’s more affordable and usually nicer
- Choose to see things that are free. Sight-seeing on your own. Hiking. Avoid pre-paid tours. You can likely do it on your own, for cheaper
- Don’t get carried away with souvenirs. That mini Eiffel Tower is not going to make any difference. It’s the memories and the photographs and the internal changes that will truly stay with you
Your first purchase is the mot important one. Journalist and consultant to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Evelyn Hannon, is the editor of Journey Woman and she says the first thing she does when she travels to a new city is to buy something from a local store.
“I make a small purchase just so that I get a shopping bag with the store’s logo on it,” Hannon said. “To avoid looking like a tourist and to fit in, I leave my backpack at the hotel and carry my camera and maps in this grocery bag. One added benefit — thieves are far less prone to steal my shopping bag than to grab my backpack.”