We all have travel fantasies at some point in our lives. From daydreaming about Caribbean shores to thinking about what the Romans are doing, idealizing the sights of a safari, and imagining immersing yourself in Japanese culture, travel pervades our minds. The thing is, though: we don’t actually live those fantasies.
To make distant dreams a reality, you need to take action
For my entire life, I’ve toyed around with the notion of international travel and how amazing it would be. To me, it’s only been a notion and never a reality. Why is that?
For starters, I am a decently broke college student, though am lucky enough to be going to a good, inexpensive school that my parents have been kind enough to pay for (If you’re reading this, mom and dad, thank you!). I only work part time as well, and I have poor saving habits compared to the scale of my dreams. Furthermore, I’m in a relationship, which as enriching as it is to my life, is a money hole. In Japanese class, when asked to describe someone close to us, I said that my girlfriend was “かわいくて高い,” meaning “cute and expensive.” At this stage of my young adult years, it is perfectly reasonable for me to not have much opportunity to travel the world, but I fear that I will keep that mindset during the years I do have the ability to, which is why I’m making a (rough) action plan. I just finished my last final for the semester, so we will consider the start date for the plan June 1, 2017 and the ending date May 31, 2022.
I won’t go in to too much detail for each year after this coming one, but I will have some specific goals in mind and milestones along the way.
Year 1 – 3rd Year at College
It will take me 5 years to graduate with the academic load I have, which is fine. I have a Business Major, as well as Japanese and Music Minors. That creates an international opportunity for me in the form of studying abroad (more on that in year 2).
Starting with the summer, I have work, personal development, and domestic travel planned. The first change I need to make is to spend less money. That will include setting stricter financial boundaries in my relationship, making fewer impulse purchases, and working more hours so that I have money to not spend. However, this summer will be an expensive one, as I am travelling to Anime Expo in Los Angeles. The AirBNB alone will be almost $200 per person for 4 people, and I expect at least another $200-$300 in expenses during my trip. This is part of my “dream of travel,” just not internationally, so despite the cost, I’m happy for the affordable price on this experience!
While I’m not at Anime Expo, I will either ask for more hours at my current job or find a second one for the summer and possibly following semester. My goal is to increase my savings by at least $2,000 by the time school starts again or shortly into the semester. I also will practice my Spanish and Japanese daily, read 10-15 books, spend time with friends weekly, and write in this blog to keep my mind active and focused on pursuits other than money.
During the semester, I am lucky enough to have a 3-day-a-week schedule, so I will have plenty of time to work, and hopefully I’ll have another $1,500 added to my travel fund by the end of it. I plan to continue this routine of balancing work and school for the following semester, which brings us back to the summer…
Year 2 – Studying Abroad
There’s a reason I’m learning Japanese. If I just wanted to visit, I wouldn’t need more than the basics, but I plan on living there during spring semester and studying abroad. I am making friends in the country already so that I can have a support network upon arrival so that I can make the most of a long-term dream I’ve had of studying abroad in 日本 (Japan). This means that I have year 1 and half of year 2 to save for this, which thankfully, will only be personal expenses thanks to my parents saving enough to afford this (because I attend an inexpensive school). Thank you, mom!! My goal is to, between now and when I leave for Japan, to have added at least $6,000 to my travel account.
As this is the only detailed goal I have, other milestones for this year will include: fluency in Japanese, beginning plans for life after college, and hosting bi-weekly gatherings of friends (so we can hang out and not spend money on restaurants). I know I can begin life planning and gathering hosting sooner, so those may happen this summer, after Anime Expo!
Year 3 – Graduation
I’ll have completed all my requirements to graduate by the end of 2020. I’ll have enjoyed my time abroad and at home, made lifelong friendships, and NOT be leaving home. You think I can afford that in Silicon Valley? I’m going to bleed my parents dry, and show great appreciation for everything they give (THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!!).
This is the part of my life where I’ll be finishing up my scholarly commitments and making travel plans for an international vagabonding trip for the following year. By vagabonding, I mean it in the sense of travelling as inexpensively as I can without having a tourist itinerary, not being a hobo or vagrant. I plan to have a decent amount of money saved up for this (whatever I don’t spend in Japan + whatever I make after I return).
2019-20 will be difficult scholastically for sure, but it will be the end of my collegiate commitments and open me up to a short burst of freedom before I start my career.
Year 4 – World Travel, No Plan
Depending on the political condition of the world, I plan to take a plane or boat to either Spain or Ireland with only whatever I need and to make my way across Europe and Asia, ending in Japan again, and coming back home. It’ll be my trip around the world. Of course, I’ll save enough to have a cushion fund, so this dream may not even happen in year 4, but I will make this journey. This will be the point of my life with the fewest commitments, as I won’t have school, a career, or a family of my own preventing me from doing a big, reckless adventure. Hopefully I don’t die!
Year 5 – Career
I will get a job, and hopefully it’ll pay enough to finance my travel dreams. This part of my life, I have no concrete plans for, but I know it will involve having work, whether that’s self employed entrepreneurship or working for a company. Who knows, maybe I can get a job that lets me travel? The possibilities and worries are endless, so I’m going to accept that I don’t know this part of my plan yet. May it all go well!
Like I said, this is fairly vague after the first year, but this post has been a great exercise for me to understand my goals and figure out ways to achieve them, and I hope that this inspires you to figure out how you can achieve your travel dreams!
Best of luck,