Think it's not possible to travel? There is one excuse you may be making that's holding you back.

My name is Chelsea, and I am diagnosed with Wanderlust Disorder.

At age 23, I’ve been to 39 states, 20 of the top 50 largest U.S. cities, and 2 countries outside of the U.S.

When I blog or vocally share my travel experiences with people, usually the first response I get is:

“I wish that I could travel as much as you, but I don’t have the money.”

And honestly, that makes me really sad. It’s also bullshit.

I’m just an ordinary girl. I’ve been a student my whole life. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree and am now completing my Master’s. I live in a small house and work part time. I don’t come from a rich family, and I haven’t been handed anything in my life.

I don’t make a lot, but I make enough to get by.

But there’s probably one thing that distinguishes me from you.

I value experiences over things.

The truth is, you probably have a bigger house than me.
You probably drive a nicer car.
You probably have nicer things than me.

That is where we differ.

I don’t go on huge shopping sprees every month.
I don’t go out for lunch every day.
I don’t sit at a bar every Friday and Saturday night.
I don’t have a pet.
I don’t have a boat, a four wheeler, a snowmobile, or other expensive toys.
I don’t spend $30 a month on a gym membership.

And I’m totally okay with that.

I was first diagnosed with a serious case of Wanderlust when I traveled to Jamaica for a mission trip in the spring of 2012. I fell in love with traveling and soon realized how addictive it was to immerse myself in different cultures. I loved learning the Jamaican culture; talking to locals, tasting new foods, seeing the different style of wardrobes, experiencing the local markets. I’ll never forget the conversations I had with people my age that lived in a world completely opposite of the world I live in. I vowed I would travel the world as much as I humanely could in this short, beautiful life of mine.

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Since then, I have made it a mission to visit each of the 50 states, and then I would like to eventually move on to different countries. I believe it’s important to get to know and appreciate my own land as much as I can before I move on to other lands. I’ve watched an East Coast sunrise and a West Coast sunset. I’ve experienced the craziness of L.A. and have walked through the concrete Jungle of NYC. I’ve driven through the desolate plains of Wyoming, the deserts of Arizona, the Rockies in Colorado, and the green lust terrain of Maine. Our melting pot country itself is full of culture; the dialects, priorities, and history of each state is addicting. I love talking to those with different accents than mine; those who cheer for different NFL teams; those who live on opposite ends of the country; those who have different stories from my own.

When I share my travel experiences with others, I don’t do it to gloat or to make you wish you had my life. I share my experiences because traveling makes me feel alive, and I want to inspire you to get out and explore the world.

Red Rocks Me

There are so many beautiful places to visit. You would be surprised how many wonderful hidden gems are hidden in your neighboring state, or even in your own state. Don’t be afraid to explore the very place you live and see what your own land has to offer. Some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited were less than 200 miles away from my own hometown.

Because the truth is, anybody can travel.

Like I mentioned above, I wasn’t born into money and I’m no where near rich, but I do know how to save.

Here are some simple lifestyle changes I made (as a student!) in order to afford travel:

-During the summer, I work my ass off. I work LOTS of overtime. Each summer I work 50-60 hours a week. It goes right into my savings.
-I keep a Money Jar. Any side job money (such as babysitting) goes right into this jar.
-I donate plasma, and don’t touch the money that adds up on my plasma debit card.
-I keep a change bucket, and put all of my loose change in it. It adds up fast!
-I try to limit eating out and buying things such as soda and coffees when I’m out and about.
-I don’t go clothes shopping unless it’s back-to-school time or with my Christmas money.
-I ask for gas cards for Christmas presents to fuel my travel.

My challenge for you….The next time you are tempted into Retail Therapy, maybe put that $50 you would have spent instead into a Travel fund. Maybe quit buying that $5 latte every morning before work and instead put that cash aside in your savings. Perhaps cut back on going out to your favorite local bar every Friday night. You’d be surprised how fast money can add up when you switch up your priorities.

On your death bed, what thoughts are going to be going through your head? Are you going to be thinking about your materialistic items or the experiences of your life?

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to think about the life I lived, and how I owned every second of the time I had on this land.

Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to at least think about getting out there and traveling. I’ll be writing a post soon more in depth on ways I penny pinch to save money to afford my travel. Stay tuned!

Xoxo,

Check out these top travel posts at Inspiration Indulgence!
50 State Sign Challenge, Part 1
25 Road Trip Tips
10 Best Lessons Traveling Taught Me

Be sure to follow my travels on Instagram!

  • Woah, you GO girl!! I love travelling single, I think I spend waaayyy less money because I find I don’t eat (& drink) out as much. It’s also great for self confidence – be your own boss!! Good for you too and great post as well!

    • I’ve never traveled single before! I think I would be so scared to go without my fiance! However I feel like it would be an amazing learning experience!

  • Alissia Haggard

    I love this! I have wanderlust too but it’s taken a backseat lately with having 2 young kids…thanks for the kick in the butt :) I DO need to make traveling a priority. It is something I love doing! :)

    • Never give up doing what you love! I can see how it would be so hard with kids…I’ve never traveled with kids but I can imagine how difficult it must me!

  • I have total wanderlust! Love this post!

    -Lee Anne

    http://www.lifeinatx.com/

    • Yay!! Thanks for reading! xo

  • I have always wanted to travel but I got pregnant at a young age and was married at a young age so all my hopes for traveling went away. But now that my boys are a little older I definitely want to take them every year on vacation. Next year NY!!

    • New York is AWESOME..Jasmine, you would love it.

  • Becky @Disney in your Day

    I’ve always tried to make that point too. My brother in particular gives me a hard time about how much I travel and asks where I get the money. I try to explain that I save, I don’t buy lots of things or go out to the bar every weekend like he does so I can do those things. But right now the big thing holding me back from traveling (more) is my job, which I do love. But I only have so many vacation days and this year I’m already taking some unpaid time off so I can travel more!

    • Good for you, Becky! And I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard people ask “where do you find the money?” Exactly…we don’t sit at a bar every single weekend. Occassionally, but not every weekend!

  • I am 29 and have been to 36 states (I think). I am lucky enough to have an aunt who loves to travel and takes me and my sister/cousins with her. She says whatever age you are is how many states you should’ve been to so I am doing good so far! Definitely plan to make it to all 50 states (and run a race in each) and try to get to some other countries as well (so far I’ve been to Australia and the Bahamas). Thanks for sharing!

    • That’s amazing. I would love to go to Europe eventually…I don’t see it happening anytime soon though with a wedding to plan for. Doing a race in each state is AWESOME!!!!

  • I love this post! You really put it into perspective. I love to travel and have been to many places. I have a long list though of places I still need and want to go to. My husband and I are planning our next big trip now and even though it is months in the future and we still haven’t nailed anything down I am still so excited!! I only have two continents left to go to so those are high on my list for future travel :)
    xo, Laura

    http://www.have-need-want.com/travel/

    • That’s AMAZING Laura!!! I wish I could say I only have 2 continents left!! Some day…let me guess…Antarctica and Asia?

  • The Wardrobe Stylist

    Hey that’s so true! Found your pin on The Pinterest Group Blogs we love and had to read the post because I love travelling….and before I got 3 kids that’s what I did at least once a year but had to scale back now…I love travelling and I wish I can do more but it’s true, people’s life priorities are different and whent hey say they’ can’t travel it’s because they rather spend on something else.

    • Exactly. And I totally understand / get it for people who have kids. That’s why we are trying to travel as much as we possibly can right now. (We don’t have kids)

      • The Wardrobe Stylist

        Enjoy it!

  • Traveling is seriously the best and I am definitely on board with the wanderlust disorder. If I haven’t been on a trip in a few months I literally start to get antsy lol. I love seeing all of the states that you explore! This is making me want to pack my bags right now lol

    • Aw, soon enough and you’ll be on your next trip! I know what you mean. We haven’t been anywhere since August which really isn’t that long of a time but I already can’t wait to hit up Florida this January!!

  • Love this post! I also value experiences over material items and find that travel isn’t hard to accomplish when switch your perspective. It took me a few years to understand this concept but now it’s ingrained in my thought process – travel over materialism always!
    Congrats on traveling to 39 states, that’s epic! Thanks for this post too :)

    • That’s so awesome. You’re SO ahead of the game!! And thanks for reading!!

  • I definitely want to travel more, and not just for vacations but to explore more. I’m already planning my next trip.

    • Good for you! That makes me so happy to hear!!

  • I’m the same way! We love to travel, and our 6-year-old son now has the wanderlust bug after visiting Japan this summer. We don’t buy the latest gadget, or fancy clothes, or new furniture. We spend it on travel, and people are always amazed that we have the money to go the places we do. We just don’t spend it like other people do!

    • You’re just being smart with your money! And I commend you for traveling with kids!

  • Sabrina Fox

    I have major anxiety so that’s the thing that holds me back! It’s just the thought of losing things, getting lost, not knowing what exactly will happen. I’m not a risk taker! But I do live vicariously thorough travel blogs online. 😉

    • It’s okay! that’s your personality and that’s totally fine! I appreciate you reading and leaving a comment :)

  • For us it’s not money but time. It kind of seems that you’re fine in one are and lacking the other. Though, that is a big reason that I blog, becuase I want to be able to work for myself eventually and have the time to travel

    • Good for you! You can do it…believe in yourself and your dreams!

  • This is so so so true! I also lack time working a full time job… no excuses!

    • It can be hard with finding time as well…use vacation? One trip a year is plenty!

  • Samantha

    This is definitely true – you hit the nail on the head xoxo

    Samantha | pearlsandpolkadots.net

    • Thank you, Samantha! Glad you can relate!

  • I think the EXACT same thing. I did a lot of travelling once I turned 19 and so many friends still living in the small town I came from would message me about how they were so jealous and wish they could, and I was always like YOU. CAN. And of course, they’d come up with the “I could never afford it” excuse, but hello, anyone can afford it if it’s their priority. Save a couple hundred dollars a month. You don’t need to be rich to travel! I’m just going to start directing people to this post, haha.

    http://www.oliveandivyblog.com

    • Thank you so much, Chelsea! I would appreciate if you shared this with others! It makes me sad when people get jealous. Anyone can travel!

  • This is great! I so desperately want to see the world, but I let the fact that I’m terrified of flying be my excuse.. I won’t even apply for a passport I’m that phobic. Sometimes you’ve just got to shut off fear and do something you’re afraid of – the reward after it all is more than worth it. Get yo’ shit together, Christie. No more excuses!

    Christie’s Take on Life. x

    • YES, get your shit together, Christie!!! lol I’m just kidding. I commend you for recognizing your fear. I hope someday you can get over your fear of flying and do it. I sometimes get nervous flying too with all of the bad news we always hear. You can always take a roadtrip and drive! We’ve only ever flown twice.

  • This is a great post!! I need to definitely do a little more traveling and would love for my kids to see the world. My aunt just had a goal to take her boys to see all 50 states before they turned 18 and she did it with them. Such a good idea! And I LOVE that picture of Red Rocks. I use to live in Colorado.

    • That’s so amazing. What an experience your cousins will have! And thank you! I LOVED Red Rocks!!!!

  • I love this! I think the toughest part of travel for me is the lack of time :/ When I have all of the time in the world, I usually don’t have the money; when I have the money, I usually have a crappy job with a very lacking vacation or personal time policy. Finding a way to work remotely/freelance is definitely my number one goal right now!

    • I don’t blame you, Emily. I’m a student so I have the time during vacations and breaks. I can imagine how hard that must be. I wish you could use a week of your vacation time and just go!!

  • Sara Strand

    I literally am too poor, but I have three kids. I’ve decided that instead of going abroad, which truthfully isn’t something on the “attainable” list, we’re opting to do road trips. We did South Dakota two summers ago, and I’m hoping this summer we’ll drive to Florida to visit family, but take a pit stop to see the Smoky Mountains. Crossing fingers!

    • There is nothing wrong with roadtrips! I’ve only ever been abroad once and that was for a mission trip in college. Most of my traveling has been through road trips! And I personally think they are more fun 😀

  • Agree agree. Sometimes our trips aren’t expensive. Adventures lie in our backyards! I think the toughest is the lack of time.

    • I can totally understand that. That seems to be the biggest issue with most of my commenters.

  • Amen! We love traveling and think it’s so worth the money. We turned our house into an Airbnb and have been using that money exclusively as travel money, which has been so fun! I laughed out loud when you said you donated plasma…my husband did that for a full year to save up money for my engagement ring! We call it my blood diamond 😉 So glad you’re encouraging people to travel and see the world!

    • Oh my gosh, that is the cutest thing! He literally gave up on his body for your ring!!! Bahahha. What a sweetie!!

  • Jessica Gardner

    AMEN!!! My husband and I love to travel, sadly the military doesnt allow as much as we want but we do aim for one trip at least a week long each year and we always check out different places.

    • Good for you! I think it’s awesome that you find time to do it amidst a busy schedule. And plus thank your husband (or you?) for his service!

  • Mimi Rose

    Great post! Experiences are always better than material things. I’ve done the opposite having traveled all over the world and lived abroad in 3 foreign cities, but I’ve only been to about 12 states or so. I’m definitely focusing on discovering more of my own country this year now that I’m living in the Pacific NW.

    • That’s awesome. I envy you…I need to see more of the world!!!! My dream is to take 3 weeks and just explore Europe.

  • Toni Rynne

    I completely agreed. I’ve been to at least 11 countries and I’m only 24. I think only three were with my parents. Everything else I did on my student budget or as a first year teacher. I love travelling, nothing could stop me!

    • Good for you, Toni! It’s all about making ends meet and using your resources!

  • Jessica Hughes

    One of my best friends is doing the same thing and I totally agree!

    • Thanks, Jessica, for commenting! So awesome.

  • It’s so tough. I don’t have the money or time. Or when Michael and I think we can finally have a getaway, nope…some unexpected bill comes up. It sucks. Money sucks! I really do wish I could travel more, but it’s just not our time yet.

    • Ugh I can imagine how tough that must be :/ Soon!!! I believe you will find a way :)

  • DT

    It is all about the priorities, where you spend your money. Some want a certain standard of living, some want things, some want experiences. Time is something that sometimes your work controls.
    — DT | Here I Scribble

    • Exactly. It’s all about priorities!

  • I love this! You just have to prioritize travel if that’s what you want to spend your money.

    • For sure. It’s all about how you allocate your savings.

  • Andrea Franklin

    I love this and also your writing voice. My husband and I like to do vacations instead of presents, and even though it’s harder to get away when you have kids, we still make it work. Traveling and seeing the different cultures around the world is so good for the soul!

    • We do vacations instead of presents too!!!

  • Love this. Our family has decided to stop buying holiday gifts and use that money towards family experiences instead. It’s not the stuff that matters to us, it’s the experiences we have as a family.

    • Exactly. I love that your family operates this way!

  • Chocolate Mama Loves Vanilla

    You hit this on the nail! I love that you didn’t sugar coat anything and how straight forward this post is on prioritization! I feel the same way on this topic, even health. “Life is short”, We hear it but what are we doing with the information right? Can’t wait to share this! Thank you for this post! Safe Travels 😀

    • Thank you so much for sharing! I appreciate it so much! xo

  • Lori G. Hill-Smith

    Good for you! It’s wonderful to see the world!!

    • I wouldn’t give it up for anything :)

  • My husband and I are a lot like you. We just told my mom that we were planning a trip to southern Mexico in March and she asked us how we could afford it. Funny thing is, SHE spends money like no other and has nothing to show for it three weeks later and we save for experiences.

    • Yeah, I think some people have different priorities. I’m glad you value your experiences so much! Have a blast in Mexico!

  • CoffeeChatsWithJ&L

    I only recently went travelling and I already can’t wait until Hawaii next year. I love your blog by the way! Great post!

    Laura xx

    https://coffeechatswithjessandlaura.wordpress.com

    • Thank you so much! Hawaii is my dream destination! We will be going there for our honeymoon. But that’s not for almost two years :)

      • CoffeeChatsWithJ&L

        Im just blessed for the opportunity to go! :)

      • Good attitude :)

  • Neely

    This post speaks to me

    • I’m so happy to hear that!! 😀