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.
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.
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!
Check out these top travel posts at Inspiration Indulgence!
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