Dear Ifeanyi. I was very excited at your response after seeing the short video I shared on my WhatsApp Status a few days ago. Your exact words:
‘Dude, this is so deep. Now you want to turn me into a Traveler eh?’
I was happy the short video from Jay Shatty where he talked about investing more in travel experiences than physical things has ended up making a brother see things differently.
Let me start by saying that experiences are priceless and traveling is one of the best ways of experiencing life. A renowned British author I admire, Sir Richard Burton who lived his life as a writer, geographer, soldier, explorer, translator, poet and even a diplomat once said:
‘The gladdest moment in human life is a departure into unknown lands.’
Nothing in this world is to be compared to the joy and the ecstasy of temporarily setting out on a voyage to the unknown lands. This joy is not just getting to the destination but the entire process of saving, planning, other preparations and the actual travels itself. It packages an experience that you will treasure all your life and that will even help you impact posterity with some writings and wisdom you will leave behind if you choose to.
Our Igbo people have this age long saying:
‘Onye njenje ka onye isi awọ mma!’
In otherwords someone who travels is wiser (better) than the old (gray haired). There are things and opportunities you will never get to appreciate or see being where you are but just leaving that ‘comfort zone’ will help you see and learn. There are lots of wisdom on the road. Without getting on the road, you will not be able to learn these. The everyday occurrences we ignore and take for granted could mean a lot elsewhere. There are practices and cultures that may seem odd and even unreasonable but traveling unlocks the wisdom behind those.
Mind you brother that traveling is something admired by so many. A lot of people talk about it – even have it on their resume as a hobby or interest. A lot of people know quite a lot about it but only a determined few dare to get involved. A lot more would have travelled if they understood the wealth of knowledge and experiences they will accumulate if they ventured to.
So, how do you get one to pack their bags for just no reasons, spend their hard earned money to embark on a journey without any reason but to travel. I will want to share with you a few things that will help you see the need to travel and also to plan a successful one for your family.
First and foremost, how do we start the whole process of traveling. Walt Disney once said
‘The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.’
Traveling remains a wish if you do nothing but talk about it. Liking to travel and being a traveler are two different things and taking an action makes you a traveler.
How can one start traveling especially seeing that we live in an economy where we do not seem to have enough of everything for us and our loved ones? I will share a few of my personal principles which has helped me travel a few times and am sure those will help you plan and for your family as well.
Save for it. Setting aside a percentage of all monthly earnings for traveling is the first step to realizing this goal. What percentage you save is irrelevant but just be sure you save enough to equate to the amount of experience you wish for. Saving for traveling is good but the more important one is being disciplined in your savings. You could save these funds in an account you don’t have access to except you want to travel.
My personal approach to this is that I have a separate domiciliary account I created for the purpose of traveling. At the end of each month, I save a particular amount after I have spent on the basic family necessities. I convert this amount to foreign currency (USD) and then deposit same into this dorm account. Most times when I make payments to this account, I make an assumption I have already spent it traveling.
The other thing is that when I change funds into a foreign currency, the temptation to change it back to a local one and spending it is reduced because most times, changing it back will be at a loss. The other important question is what percentage should one save. Knowing fully well you will be embarking on this trip with Amara and your kids will make you save more.
The other important thing is to decide on a destination early and start making plans. This is not always the case for me personally because I love adventure – traveling without detailed plan. Find out what the ticket would cost. How long the journey would be, the local weather and several other things. If you will be traveling with the kids, be sure to look out for kid friendly places and parks that will help them experience the journey.
I am also not a fan of traveling with tour operators because with them, everything is scripted – everything is timed and has a schedule and I personally do not like such. These tour operators most time will accept payments in installments, saving you the task of paying everything at once. A good thing for paying in bits is that in most life endeavors, we normally get to change our minds especially when we have pressing problems. Once you make the first financial commitment, you will be losing a percentage of what you have paid or sometimes all you have paid. Such will serve as an encouragement to complete the payment and realise your travel dreams.
These travel operators also know some very good places that will give you value for your money, hence, a good reason to go with them sometimes.
On the contrary for me, I don’t believe in a tour operator leading me into ‘temptation’, I like to find it myself! – talking about discovering places.
Another way of making sure you transition from a travel talker to a traveler is by creating a thirst and stirring a desire for the destination. You will definitely find something about the destination that will wow you. Spend time to research it and keep such in mind. You can also discuss these with your wife and kids. You will be surprised they will be the one always asking you about the trip and how prepared you are for it. Try to create an impression on the kids on what sights they will see and relate it to something they already know.
Let me end by letting you know that travel adventure must not be when you travel to very expensive destinations or to another continent or things of that sort. A unique experience can be created within the same country or places close to you.
My general advice is to focus more on the process of the journey that the actual journey itself. Let us say for instance, a travel experience for me starts when I start gathering information for the trip and the visa processing. I do my best to ensure I enjoy the whole process even though it can be stressful and demanding.. I personally focus on doing a research about the place and then learning some very useful words and slangs used in the city. Focus on every detail of the preparation, the travel itself, your stay and return. Getting to the distnation for me is one out of many things to look out for.
I really hope that this will help you move an inch closer in living a life that is more experience oriented than that that is ‘things’ oriented. Gustav Flaubert once said:
‘Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.’
Having a right perspective towards life help us focus on what is important and not just everything people go for. Extend my regards to Amara and the kids. I will make good my promise to visit very soon.