Santorini, Greece (Photo creds: Laura Branson)
People ask me all the time how I afford the trips I take and plan to take. My answer every time? “I’m cheap as f***. “
Not only do I budget hardcore while I’m actually traveling, but I budget in my daily life as well. I don’t go out drinking often, drinks are so expensive. I don’t go out to eat often, because to me that is like throwing my money away. I don’t buy myself nice things EVER. My closet is so ridiculously outdated, yet I can’t bring myself to buy some new things because all I can see in place of that $20 tank top is a one night stay at a hostel. I buy my makeup and toiletries at CVS… no MAC makeup for this girl. When I go to the grocery store, I literally stand there and compare pennies between different brands of items. And the biggest thing I sacrifice? My time. I am a 21 year old at a university known for its fun times and parties, yet I don’t participate in those fun times and parties nearly as much as anybody I know. I am a full time student, I have an internship on campus, and I am Vice President of a club on campus, all of which are time consuming. But on top of all that, I work so that I can make the money to go on these trips, because these trips are what make me really, truly happy. I am always busy and always tired, but it’s never not been worth it.
Today at work, a coworker was talking about how he just bought a car and now he has no money. He said “I sold my soul for this car.” That’s when I realized, I sold my soul to wanderlust. Every dollar I make goes towards travel (and my bills…but shh). And when I come back from a trip, with my bank savings a hell of a lot smaller than they were before, if they’re even there at all, my thoughts are never “hmmm, I should stop spending the money and save it for when I’m older.” No, what I’m thinking every time is “time to build up again if I want to make it to (insert country here).” So while some people have sold their souls to their cars, or their closets, or even their careers, I’ve sold mine to my wanderlust. I even know the exact moment when I realized that I was never going to be the same again. On my Birthright trip to Israel, we woke up one day at 3 am so we could hike to the top of the Masada to catch the sunrise. I have never seen a sunrise like that before, the vibrant colors over the endless desert… I was speechless and I knew right then that I wanted more moments like that.