Today on Reddit an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread caught my eye. The title was (paraphrasing) “I run a company on my laptop that’s made over 22 million in profits and allowed me to travel the world. AMA!”
This immediately bugged me. You don’t need 22 million dollars to travel the world. Good on this guy for creating such a successful business and doubtlessly ending up in the .1% of very wealthy people. However, the truth is you can travel the world on $1,200 a month, or less. I know because I’ve done it.
Traveling the world as a millionaire sounds very appealing to laypeople, but I’m not so convinced it’s everything one would hope for.
It would mean gone are the joys of hanging out in a hostel with other backpackers, budgeting out tasty street food and cutting costs by doing activities with new friends you meet.
Instead, you’re shuttling yourself from luxury resort to luxury resort, rubbing shoulders with pampered old business people and eating extremely fancy food that probably doesn’t taste a fraction as good as the street fare.
If I were making millions, or even high six-figures, I’d likely travel the same way I do now.
That’s because part of traveling involves “roughing it”. All you can get with lots of money are luxuries and comforts. Yet, part of travel involves getting outside of one’s comfort zone – so how would this even work?
It’s Time to Shrug Off the Myth of the Wealthy Traveler
There was a time when wealth equated to travel. It was called the 1900s. Only the affluent could go on their worldly tours, returning with grandiose tales of people with different skin colors than their own and food that wasn’t Anglo-Protestant derived. Unbelievable!
Today, things are different. The world has meshed together. You can find Hooters in Beijing (been there, it’s real) and Korean Kimchi restaurants in the heart of rural Alabama.
Now, add that to the fact travel costs have greatly reduced through the rise of the shared economy. Hotel chains are going out of business thanks to AirBNB, a generally far cheaper and more personalized option that allows very cheap rentals especially in the developing world (it’s easy to find $10 / a night AirBNBs that are still perfectly adequate in places like Southeast Asia).
Finally, combine this with the possibility of remote work, and world travel is within anyone’s means. Just the other day I was told about a young couple who moved to Vietnam. The guy works as an architect and simply turned his job mobile (that kind of income in Vietnam would mean living like royalty). While not every job is suited for this type of mobilization, it’s within most people’s means to find ways to work digitally.
In Reality, Fewer Things Hold You Back
Armed with this knowledge, the most common dilemmas that hold would-be travelers back include their existing work schedule, or their families.
True, if you are raising a couple of little tykes running around, you can’t pack your bags for Asia. However, it’s still within grasp someday.
Further, with the job, one can either mobilize it or quit it. A topic I get into in much greater detail in my book series.
Regardless of your path, the idea that travel is off-limits except for those few lucky people who can do it, is a myth. Most likely propagated by friends who are intimidated by the thought of you leaving your hometown.
To summarize, don’t let these things convince you not to follow your goals.