There are a million reasons to see the world, fellas, and so long as those reasons stay within the boundaries of the law we need not justify them. Travel can be an integral part of your self-education. But the Booby wants to suggest a few “to dos” before you set out, things you likely won’t hear about on a typical travel site or from a travel agent.
Don’t Go Into Debt for a Vacation
Yes, the Booby sounds like a broken record sometimes, but this is important. No matter your reasons for traveling make damn sure you have the money before you leave. That means saving. Besides, saving will force you to cut back on much of the useless shit we incorporate into our lifestyles. It’s just not possible to travel while enjoying the living standards of our housebound peers… unless, of course, we go into debt.
Debt makes us unfree. There’s something self-defeating about accruing the personal gains of travelling while simultaneously becoming more enslaved to debt.
Know Why You’re Travelling
This isn’t as obvious as it sounds. Lots of people travel for the sake of doing it, or for appearance, and secretly regret it later. It’s easy to pick destinations the way some people pick restaurants. Having someone tell you “you just have to visit _____” is not a good reason.
What do you want to get out of it? Here’s just a few things to consider:
Do you simply want to escape a cold Winter climate, for example? If so, the destination itself may not particularly matter to you, so long as it’s warm and sunny. Knowing this, you can look for cheaper destinations than say Hawaii or Palm Springs. You can even have the advantage of sitting back while waiting for deals to pop into your inbox.
Do you want to visit famous sites that are meaningful to you? In this case, merely seeing these sites may not suffice. Perhaps you need to pay extra to hire a personal guide, for example. A guide can take you to areas others don’t see, or who can impart first-hand knowledge. You’re committing to this. Do it right.
Do you want to spend weeks – months, even – backpacking across multiple countries? You should. However, keep in mind that you’re not simply going to the local mall. Every country has its own laws, customs, mores, and traditions. You’re a Westerner visiting someone else’s home. Your Western expectations, about everything from dress, to manners, to ideology are secondary to those of your hosts. If you’re not ready to occasionally swallow your beliefs then you’re not yet ready to leave home.
Do you want to live and work abroad for extended periods, so as to experience life in another country? If so, there are a million things you should consider. Is your intention to make good money, or are you satisfied with just enough to get by in your temporary home? Also consider the availability of work, or even subtleties of climate (some places are great, for example, during the dry season, but not so much during the rainy season), and so on.
Match Your Destination With Your Means
Pick a destination in accordance with your potential to actually enjoy it.
Money is a big part of that equation. You may have always wanted to see France, for example. But will the prohibitive and well-known costs of that country prevent you from experiencing much of what it has to offer? Maybe Portugal would be a nice, and far less expensive, alternative.
If your destinations don’t match your means you must be prepared to either wait, or have secondary choices that do match your means. In hindsight, you just may discover that that second choice provided much in the way of experience your first choice likely would not have.
Time is Money
Time is a resource. So many of the places we wish to visit require long flights. Worse, the farther outside your time zone you travel the more that time difference will require adjustment. Once factoring in jet lag those nine days you thought you’d have may only be eight.
Consider that longer destinations will likely eat up an entire day on the way there, and another day on the way back. Suddenly those nine days you thought you’d have are sounding a lot like seven, or even six, if jet lag is a factor.
So, someone traveling from Vancouver, say, may wish to reconsider that great deal on a week-long stay in Italy. But a week in Mexico City, on the other hand…
Will You Ever Return to This Part of the World?
Here, the Booby simply refers to another form of means: proximity.
Some destinations, by their very location, imply a once in a lifetime visit. If you live in Minnesota, a trip to French Polynesia will likely never be repeated in your lifetime. On the other hand, New York is but a short flight away, and your favourite travel sites are always hawking flight specials to the Big Apple. Also consider that by virtue of its role as a major hub, New York will likely be a frequent stopover en route to other destinations. Arranging an extra day or two in Manhattan is therefore always a possibility.
The point is that the nameless traveler going to French Polynesia should ensure he has enough time to see and do everything he wants. On the other hand, if a quick weekend in New York doesn’t allow you to see everything you want, it’s not necessarily a problem. You’ll probably be back at some point.
Are You Ready to Travel?
This is the big one! Know yourself enough to match your maturity to your destination. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to party or hit the beaches if those are your main goals. If so, any all-inclusive resort or beach destination will do. There’s really no need to weigh the cultural or architectural pros and cons of competing choices.
However, certain sites and destinations are significant for their majesty or the sense of awe they can imbue. If you want to appreciate these its best not to do so while hung-over, or while coming down off a post-rave bacchanal binge.
Just as importantly, if you want to see some of the world’s great destinations you have to be prepared for the downsides, like crowds, beggars, and price-gouging. If you’re travelling in the Third World be prepared to see people living in much different conditions than at home. Also, once you’ve wandered beyond the high tourist-traffic areas your language may no longer be understood. Have you prepared for this?
Once you’ve prepared yourself, prepared your finances, and finally settled on your destination, there’s nothing left to do but pack. And once your journey is complete, you just may come back with new eyes, and be better for the experience. In fact, the Booby bets you will. Welcome to the joys of self-education.
Stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead for tips and talk about world travel.