Traveler’s Dilemma: A Latte or a Dream

It’s 6 A.M. and the shrill of your alarm clock brakes through the veil of your placid sleep. Befuddled you fumble in the dark, rinse the cobwebs of past tidings, dress for the occasion, and take off to work. Tired from cramming too much into one weekend and not looking forward to yet another workweek you stop at the local Starbucks, thinking that an expensive cup of coffee, prepared by a barista that likely doesn’t speak Italian, is the antidote to a better life. You pay, you exit, you sip. It taste good doesn’t it? Well, guess what, you just traded a dream for a latte.

A Sea of Choices

Every choice you make has a consequence. If you’d like to travel the world and aggrandize who you are through adventure and exploration you have many choices, and likely sacrifices, to make. That delicious, aromatic, energy infusing concoction you bought this morning (the same one you buy daily mechanically and automatically), will cost you north of $1300 after a full year. The math is simple and straightforward: approximately 260 work days x $5 per latte = $1300. Heck, that’s a ticket to just about anywhere.

But my goal is not to ostracize your caffeine addiction; after all, we all have a guilty sin, or two. Instead, what I’d like to focus on is the fact that small choices can quickly compound and make the realization of your traveling dreams a reality. By forgetting your latte (or better yet, preparing your own), canceling your visit to the nightclub this weekend, and exchanging the hottest new restaurant with a savory dish at home, you can transform the “magic” of Disney world into the life changing force that is Venice, Salzburg, Athens, or _____. Go ahead, you fill in the blank…

Friends and acquaintances often find it unbelievable that my wife and I can travel so much. They quickly ascribe it to a comfortable salary or a tendency towards decadence. What they never witness is the sacrifices* we make to realize these odysseys; what is lost is the coffees we forgo, the invitations to engage in the latest fads we ignore, the simpler clothes, the trinkets never bought. We hear the moans and complaints from frustrated locals that wish they could, even once, afford an unforgettable vacation, then we see them drive towards the mall to drown their frustration. Print this and paste it on your mirror: if you have an above average salary then it is your choices, not your means, that prevent you from realizing your dreams. Lead a simpler life and a better future quickly materializes.**

I Want Everything, Now!

Your father and mother, even more so your grandparents, fully understood the power of saving. To them, the future was just as alluring as the present. Certainly, there is something to be said about enjoying the present moment, but when it comes to money waiting is usually better. Take a lesson from their book of life and drill into your head the concept that instant happiness and gratification is an illusion. Rather than building castles in the sky while you wait in line to purchase the latest garbage from Pandora, put that credit card back into your pocket and save the money to visit Wales, the land of real castles. Don’t buy things, buy experiences. Instant gratification is for the feeble minded. I know you are far stronger than that!

What have you already sacrificed, or are willing to sacrifice, in order to travel the world?

* Sacrifice is a bit of a misnomer. I only use the word because others may deem it so, but to us it is a pleasant reality and one we thoroughly enjoy.
** For a fantastic guide on how to lead a simpler life, same money in the process, and then proceed to employ that money in the building of a brighter future (along with those activities that truly make you happy) head on over to Mr. Money Mustache. The lessons I’ve learned from his blog are invaluable and I’m forever thankful!

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