10 Excuses Holding You Back From Travel

“Don’t wait until all the conditions are perfect for you to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”
– Allan Cohen

Over the years I've heard many excuses why people “can't travel” or do long-term sightseeing.  The reality is, most of them aren't true, and can readily be addressed. What you do need to make travel happen, is a willingness to do it.

The same effort that people funnel into landing a job, slaving away hours & savings, and buying a dream home can be put into making a dream trip a reality. Most people won't like to hear that. That's because I'm implying the only reason you can't travel is you.

Here's the deal. If you want to travel, you need to confront your excuses. Stop pretending these are unconquerable obstacles. They are conquerable. So, are you ready to make travel happen? Then it's time to ball-bust the top 10 excuses that keep people from living their life to travel!

1. I'll travel when I'm retired.

Atacama Sandboarding
Ted sand-boarding in the Atacama desert (not so much a retirement bucket list item)

Call me pessimistic, but does having a cane and arthritis seem a realistic time to zip on a moped through Europe, tagging along on pub crawls, or bungee jump greats heights in New Zealand? Not so much, although if you do, you're definitely cool in my books.

It saddens me that young people today, who have greater opportunities to travel than ever, still claim they'll wait for retirement to do so.  One of the most common regrets people have before they die is that they wish they travelled more. Don't echo these regrets.

Retirement does not ensure a period of good health, wealth, or lack of attachments. Houses, kids, grandkids, and unexpected illnesses strap people down. Don't bank on this period of your life as being prime travel time. As a nurse who's worked with dying patients aged 0-18 years, let me assure you, none of us know when we'll pass on. Don't wait for the unexpected to happen.

2. I want to save up my money or, I don't have enough money.

Have you looked at your payments in the last month? Did they involve any of the following: mobile phone plan, landline phone plan, internet, cable/satellite, Netflix, rent/mortgage, gifts, clothing/accessories?

Travel does not entail fixed expenses like these. It's easy to forget that so much of our money bleeds away each and every month into ongoing bills. Being employed provides steady income, but quitting and living off savings to travel can equate to far less spending per month than habitual consumerism when you live in one place.

If you want to travel, it's time to trim the spending fat and make it happen. There are many ways you can save up for travel from home. Eating more frugally, selling off possessions, and taking up money-saving hobbies like couponing. Put simply, you need a saving mentality, and you need to take it seriously.

If you have debts, cut the spending fat and confront them ASAP. Debt Round-Up is a fantastic resource that offers practical tips to addressing debt and over-spending. The author/creator of the site overcame $50,000+ in debt himself, so rest assured they know what they're talking about!

3. I should buy/have a ______ first (house, car, baby, degree, etc.).

Before you decide which of these you want to pursue, ask yourself this: is travel really going to make any of these goals no longer possible? Or can these things be delayed?

More importantly, will you ever regret that unbelievably rewarding trek to Machu Picchu, or that time you sunk your toes into the snow-white sand in Galapagos seated next to a sea lion?

Smiley sea lion in Galapagos

I didn't think so, but it's easy to get caught up in the pressure to follow the norms of our parents' generation. The truth is, the worst case scenario of embarking on an epic adventure is really not so bad, and will not become an ultimatum between owning a house, a car, a degree, or starting a family.

4. I don't want to lose my job.

I'll admit, this one is tricky. First, try to negotiate a leave of absence. If that doesn't work out, then you're onto the real plunge which both of us had to take. Leave your job.

Yep it's hard, especially when modern society marries people to their work. It's our identity. The first thing people ask each other is “what do you do for a living?”. When you travel, this question is never asked. Your identity will change, and you'll realise what people do for a living gives hardly any indication of who they are, what they believe in, and what they enjoy.

Ask yourself: what's the worst case scenario after leaving your job (and having diligently stored up savings for travel!)? Will you be forever out of work? On the streets? Very unlikely. In fact, leaving your old “identity” may give you the courage to try something else, as happened with me.

Quitting one work means you'll do what you did if you just got fired today – find a new one. Evidently this step is easier for some than others, particularly those who have an employer who would re-hire them. Regardless of your situation, travel will very unlikely be something you look back on with regret!

5. I can't, I have a ______ (house, car, dog, cat, ETC.).

A smidgen of flexibility and problem-solving reveals many options to address this. Own a house? Find a tenant or rent on AirBNB (read our step-by-step guide on how to do this). Have an animal? Entrust them with a friend or family member, or pay someone to look after them while you're away. Got a car? Sell it, lend it, or rent it out to others to earn cash. In the age of the internet, there are endless opportunities to resolve these potential “burdens”, and in many cases even earn extra money!

6. I'll miss my family.

Yep, you will. But if you have a family that's healthy, then this is an opportune time to leave, when everyone is in good health and you aren't required to be nearby to help at a moment's notice.

Remember, as you age, so too will your family (further frying the logic behind “I'll travel when I retire”). Don't wait for something unexpected to happen that could require you to stay put. Chances are, your family will encourage you on your adventures and want to live vicariously through your experiences.

Remember too that we live in the age of Skype. While this doesn't replace face-to-face moments, it makes a heck of a difference for staying connected. Your family will always be there when you get back, but in the meantime, enjoy yourself, see the world and keep in touch while doing it!

7. Travel is too expensive.

Travelling itself is actually vastly cheaper than the typical two-week holidays North Americans embark on once a year. Would you pay $3600 a month to live somewhere? Probably not, but at an average of $120/nt on hotels as many two-week-trippers do, this is a monthly total. Yikes!

Now add that amount with overpriced tours, jam-packed itineraries, and touristy restaurants and – CHA-CHING – you've racked up a typical outrageous tourist bill that could equate months of travel.

Torres Del Paine
Seeing sites like the Torres del Paine, Chile can be a LOT cheaper than living at home

Let's be clear here: touring is hugely different from travelling. Travelling involves stretching a buck – taking buses over taxis, hostels over hotels, and trains over planes. You'll cook your own meals, explore cities on your own instead of on a tour, and have a much richer experience doing so.

I promise you this: the more you read up on long-term travel, you'll begin to realise that touring is expensive, and travel is not.

8. Something bad might happen to me.

Excuses like this are built on naiveness. “Bad things” can and do happen everywhere in the world. Karma doesn't care if you're a backpacker on the road or a permanent resident in your own country crossing the street.

There are horror stories in every walk of life, in every place, from people's own private homes to busy public places. If fear of something happening to you prevents you from globetrotting, then I highly suggest you turn on your local news and remind yourself that the world is scary right in your own neighbourhood. Nothing makes me sadder than hearing that fearfulness makes people miss out on scenes like this:

Seal Rocks, NSW, Australia

9. My partner won't want to.

Admittedly, this is another tricky one. But do you want to know a fun fact? My partner didn't want to initially travel either.

Step one to combatting this excuse is convincing your partner (perhaps by busting all the other above excuses for them). I persuaded Ted through the short but utterly life-changing book, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel.

Share what inspires you, and what makes you see and understand how long-term travel is feasible for you. It just might work!

10. I'll travel when I have kids.

I'm not saying that you can't have travel when you have kids – in fact, travel bloggers like YTravel, Travelling Canucks and Curious Plan prove that it's not only possible, but an amazing lifestyle. That being said, these bloggers will admit that travelling with kids is a lot different than travelling on your own.

Making stops whenever and wherever you want to, bar-hopping to taste local brews, fun late nights partying at the hostel with newly made friends, going for long stretches without food to find just the right restaurant. There's also the added costs of additional passengers and bellies to feed.

There are just some elements of travel that really change when children are in the picture. This does not at all make it impossible, but it could be a hinderance that makes you less likely to pursue a long-term adventure.

 “You seldom, if ever, get lucky sitting down.” – Zig Ziglar

Stop hiding behind fear and excuses. If you want to travel, face the reasons you're not.

Sahara Desert, Morocco

The Thrifty Gist

  • When it comes to travel, the best time is now
  • Retirement, kids, buying a house and possessions are financial/physical barriers to globetrotting
  • Travel is cheaper than fixed living
  • You will never regret the epic adventures that travel brings