Why I Don’t Want to “Work to Travel”

Ask anyone if they like to travel and the answer is probably yes. Because, who doesn’t? But travel isn’t always easily accessible. For one, it can be expensive; and two, there are any number of challenges and obstacles in the way. But mainly, it seems that paying for travel is the biggest challenge (with debt, other bills, etc.)

I typically see posts from other travel bloggers surrounding a couple common questions about funding travel:

  • How to get paid to travel
  • How to earn money while you travel

Few blog posts focus on what I think is the underlying question related to what people actually want. First, people want to travel long term without worrying about how to fund it. Second, people want more time to travel. Third, people still have bills to pay.

The bigger question we should all be asking, travel lovers or otherwise, is, “How can I earn more money without having to work more?” This all boils down to attaining financial freedom.

I’ve read post after post telling readers that all they have to do to save money and fund their travels is to work really, really hard. To work two or three jobs if you have to. You can do it if you set your mind to it, they say.

But I don’t want to work 40+ hours a week somewhere to fund my travels, when what I really want is to travel and explore the place I’m in. I’m not opposed to hard work, or working in general, but if I can do less, why wouldn’t I?

I’ve read many a blog post urging readers to overcome the “I can’t because…” mindset – to overcome the fear and excuses holding them back from what they really want. I firmly believe that you can do anything you put your mind to. 100%. So if you want to travel and perhaps find it cost prohibitive, there are so many things you can do to make travel possible, like teaching abroad, for example, or WWOOFing.

What’s so bad about working for a living?

Nothing – if it’s what you want to do. Teaching abroad and WWOOFing are great options, don’t get me wrong. I’ve never done either, but I have traveled over an extended period of time on a budget. I didn’t have the money to stay in hotels or eat at restaurants all the time. In fact, I ate canned corn at a train station once…among other really wonderful meal choices.

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All this to say: I get it. I completely get the desire to travel and the motivation to do anything to make that happen. Here’s why I won’t do that (or why I don’t want that to by my only option):

It’s a temporary fix. It’s not a financially sustainable, long-term solution.

“But wait! I could work to travel forever! Until I’m too old, until the end of my days! That’s how much I love travel!”

Yes, yes, I once said that too. I would proclaim with all of my might that money doesn’t matter, that the only thing that matters is travel and real experiences.

And yes, to an extent, that’s true. And if that’s what you choose, I wish you all the happiness. But I want more than a paycheque. I don’t want to go from paycheque to paycheque, happy just to break even. It shouldn’t be about working harder, it should be about working smarter – being informed, educated, and strategic about our financial decisions.

For me, travel is a primary motivator for the ultimate end goal.

That’s right, travel is not the end goal. Travel is one of the many reasons for reaching the end goal.

The end goal is financial freedom and location independence. The end goal is to stop having to trade time for money.

Money isn’t everything. But it does give you the power of choice – the power to choose how you spend your time. And time is a very valuable commodity.

Within the past year or so, I’ve become more aware of my mindset about money, work, and travel. I’ve gone from thinking “if only I had more money, more X would be possible” to asking “how can I make it all possible?

And crucial to that is making it sustainable and ensuring I can be financially stable long-term.

I’ve realized that I don’t want to travel for money (or work to travel), necessarily; I want to travel and earn money. I don’t want to work for money, I want my money to work for me (see: Robert Kiyosaki; Paula Pant).

I don’t want to wait until the typical retirement age to have the time to do what I want/choose/love.

I’m not an expert, and I don’t have a degree in finance, but I’m learning more and more about investing and smart passive income. I’ve discovered some amazing books and podcasts, and if you want the ability to choose how you spend your time, you might find them helpful too:

If my blog eventually earns me an income (passive income!), great. But I didn’t create it for money. I created it for the love of travel and for sharing that with others, and to challenge myself to push my own limits. And that only motivates me more to make the real end goal of financial freedom a reality, so I can keep doing the things I love as much as possible.

“So just quit your job already! Then you’d have the free time you’re talking about!”

I’m not about to make a rash decision. I could quit, sure, but then I’d run out of savings FAST, and not be any further ahead in terms of growing my income and investments. I could quit and go teach abroad, but I have to ask, “Will this help me achieve my goals faster?

One step at a time, folks.

Step 1: Make a plan
Step 2: Do the stuff outlined in the plan
Step 3: Profit

In the meantime, I’ll keep traveling. I hope my travels can inspire you to go after what you want, as much as they inspire me to do the same! And I hope that we can start having conversations about financial freedom within the travel community, because I think that’s what we’re all after.

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