Where Did You Get the Money?
Along with the question “How much money did you spend while traveling?” that’s one of the most common questions I get daily. I find it very irritating when people ask me how much money I spent because if they are not paying for my lifestyle, my piggy-bank is none of their business. No one is going to benefit from their question or my answer. On the other hand, I don’t mind answering where did I get the money and how am I after 3 years of non-stop traveling still financing my nomadic lifestyle, because that answer can actually help someone. Some people go as far as asking my family in Croatia very deep questions such as “How many men she had to sleep with to afford this?” That kind of question usually comes from a very closed-minded people who are extremely judgemental and full of prejudices.
First, I started saving for my long journey few years before leaving my country. I had a company with Austrian business partner for 5 years; we’ve done a good job and made some money. Instead of spending it on new possessions, I decided to spend it on traveling. I knew my trip was not going to cost a fortune, because my preferred way of traveling is by hitchhiking while camping or couchsurfing. As I don’t smoke cigarettes and in the meantime I stopped drinking anything but water, my biggest expense is my food, visas, entry tickets to some special sights or festivals and occasional hostel when I don’t feel like roughing it. I don’t go to the hairdressers; I don’t wear make-up or visit beauty salons. I prefer to spend my money on traveling. I don’t buy new shoes or clothes because it’s trendy; I buy it only when my old ones have too many holes to be worn again. With a backpack on my back, there is only so much I can carry anyways.
I went on this long hitchhiking trip from Zagreb to Bora Bora without calculating how much money I needed daily in order to survive on my savings. I simply refused to think or stress about the money. I knew I was capable enough to find myself work anywhere if I needed or simply wanted one. In the last 3 years while traveling I had 14 jobs. Some were only few hours long, some lasted for 6 months. Motivation behind most of them was not the money. Motivation was usually boredom (when I was waiting for the monsoon season to pass, so I could hitchhike the boat from Langkawi) or curiosity, different kind of experience and the work in the exchange for food and accommodation.
Interesting enough, after 3 years of traveling my traveling budget is almost back at the level where it was 3 years ago. I roll my eyes every time when someone tells me traveling is too expensive. No one forces you to travel in expensive way. There is an alternative path to everything and it’s your own call if you’re going to walk that path. If you want it bad enough, you’ll keep looking for a solution until you find some way. The easiest thing to do is to throw your hands in the air, bitch about your sad situation and call bad names all the people who work hard for their dreams.
Life will get drastically better when you shift your energy away from other people’s personal business and start improving your own. Instead of messaging me time-wasting questions such as “How much money did you spend?” try asking yourself that question. Figure out where you spend your money and if it brings you joy. A joy that lasts more than 20 minutes after unwrapping the paper and the etiquette is off.
Traveling is as cheap or expensive as you make it to be. How much money you will spend depends on how comfortable you like to feel while traveling and what brings you true joy. The answer varies greatly from person to person, so don’t expect others to answer it correctly for you. Figure it out yourself and you'll get the most accurate answer.