Why “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel” Is The Worst Advice Of All Time

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I have an internet acquaintance that I’ve been following on social media for a little over two years now, an all-around nice, smart girl who blogs and does odd jobs and has recently decided to go back get a Master’s. In Europe. For a degree that, by all reasonable accounts, is probably not going to lead to a great job. And she knows this, I think, because she talks about it as “an opportunity to learn and expand her mind,” more than any sort of preparation for a future career. Which is fine, but the truth of the matter is that she is able to enjoy such freedom — to be a wanderer of sorts who enjoys travel, study for the sake of study, and long conversations over good dinners — because she comes from a good bit of wealth and, if not subsidized entirely, never has to worry about her safety net. She won that particular bit of genetic lottery, and it’s useless to begrudge her the freedom that fate bestowed on her.

But it is useful — important, even — to begrudge her the attitude that comes with it, one that is all too prevalent amongst young people who do not have to worry about the foundations of their future financial security: This idea that you must travel, as some sort of moral imperative, without worrying about something as trivial as “money.” The girl in question posts superficially inspiring quotes on her lush photos, about dropping everything and running away, or quitting that job you hate to start a new life somewhere new, or soaking up the beauty of the world while you are young and untethered enough to do so. It’s aspirational porn, which serves the dual purpose of tantalizing the viewer with a life they cannot have, and making them feel like some sort of failure for not being able to have it.

It’s a way for the upper classes to pat themselves on the back for being able to do something that, quite literally, anyone with money can buy. Traveling for the sake of travel is not an achievement, nor is it guaranteed to make anyone a more cultured, nuanced person. (Some of the most dreadful, entitled tourists are the same people who can afford to visit three new countries each year.) But someone who has had the extreme privilege (yes, privilege) of getting out there and traveling extensively while young is not any better, wiser, or more worthy than the person who has stayed home to work multiple jobs to get the hope of one day landing a job that the traveler will assume is a given. It is entirely a game of money and access, and acting as though “worrying about money” on the part of the person with less is some sort of trivial hangup only adds profound insult to injury.

I was able to travel, and even though I paid for my life abroad with my own work, it was still a result of a healthy amount of privilege. I was from a middle-class family who I did not need to support or help financially, I knew that I could always slink back to their couch if things didn’t work out, and I had managed to accrue a bit of savings while living at home for the few months before I left. There are millions of people who have none of these things, and even if they wanted to pay for travel on their own, would simply not be able to because of the responsibility or poverty they lived with. For even my modest ability to see the world, I am eternally grateful.

And what’s more, I understand (perhaps even better after having traveled a good amount) that nothing about your ability or inability to travel means anything about you as a person. Some people are simply saddled with more responsibilities and commitments, and less disposable income, whether from birth or not. And someone needing to stay at a job they may not love because they have a family to take care of, or college to pay for, or basic financial independence to achieve, does not mean that they don’t have the same desire to learn and grow as someone who travels. They simply do not have the same options, and are learning and growing in their own way, in the context of the life they have. They are learning what it means to work hard, to delay gratification, and to better yourself in slow, small ways. This may not be a backpacking trip around Eastern Europe, but it would be hard to argue that it builds any less character.

Encouraging that person to “not worry about money,” or to “drop everything and follow their dreams,” demonstrates only a profound misunderstanding about what “worrying” actually means. What the condescending traveler means by “not worrying” is “not making it a priority, or giving it too much weight in your life,” because on some level they imagine you are choosing an extra dollar over an all-important Experience. But the “worrying” that is actually going on is the knowledge that you have no choice but to make money your priority, because if you don’t earn it — or decide to spend thousands of it on a trip to Southeast Asia to find yourself — you could easily be out on the streets. Implying that this is in any way a one-or-the-other choice for millions of Americans is as naive as it is degrading.

Everyone needs to forge their own path to financial independence and freedom. And perhaps you are lucky enough that your path involves a lot of wandering around, taking your time, and trying a bunch of new things — because you know that security will be waiting for you at the end of the rainbow. That’s fine, and there is no need to feel guilt or shame over your privilege, if only because it’s unproductive and helps no one. But to encourage people to follow your very rare path, because you feel it is the only way to spiritual enlightenment or meaning, makes you an asshole. It makes you the person who posts vapid “inspirational” quotes that only apply to a tiny percent of the population who already has all the basics covered. And God forbid anyone who needs the money actually does follow that terrible advice, they won’t be like you, traipsing around South America and trying degrees for fun. They will, after their travels are over, be much worse off than when they started. And no souvenir keychain is going to make that reality sting any less.

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  • Preeeeach.

  • Heather

    YES! Perfectly stated. Another one that drives me crazy: I’ve always worked multiple jobs and helped out my parents quite a bit during tough times, it drives me crazy when someone says “oh you can stay in hostels and eat cheap! It’s so easy/cheap to travel around Europe/Asia/Africa/S.America! It’s probably cheaper than your life here at home!” Ahh yes and we’re just going to disregard that $1,000+ plane ticket….

    I don’t begrudge anyone their travel; in fact, it’s my goal to travel more and I think it’s great! It’s just nice to vent a bit about my frustrations 🙂

    • victoria g

      Totally agree. And, “cheap” is such a relative term, i love when people are like “oh it was only [x amount] to stay at [exotic location] for the week, so cheap!” you have no idea what my salary is, how can you possibly tell me what i should consider affordable?!

      • Shamira West

        So true

      • Matthew Glownd Hand

        Because you can rent a room in a house in a place like, Goa India for around $60 a month, utilities included. And Goa is one of the nicer places. You have to dig a little to find such gems, but they exist. As long as you are in a first world country, have no children, and have managed your debts– you should be able to travel for an entire year with the money made from a summer job.

        • Gen GH

          Hahaha. Sure. Can you give the reference to that place?

          • Matthew Glownd Hand

            I cannot provide a reference, as it is from a private individual I met while I was making some contacts in Goa. Some simple math and knowing the cost of living in the area should make it pretty clear.

            Also, we’re not talking hotel quality accommodation in many cases when you go that route… but if you want to a world traveler and have already reduced yourself down to the basic needs… that shouldn’t be much of an issue for you. 🙂

            You could be like me an just camp half the time in a hammock. It’s cheap, and I actually prefer it in the right conditions.

          • victoria g

            again man, cheap is relative. i have friends who would consider a $1500/month apartment cheap, and friends who literally couldn’t afford that $60/month in Goa (which, again, how are you getting there? from where I live that plane ticket is in the thousands. suddenly being a world traveler is more expensive already!)

            the single mom who works two jobs to pay her mortgage doesn’t want to hear about how “cheap and easy” it is to travel to Goa, India if she just “reduces herself to basic needs”. you can say that it’s awesome and wonderful all you want, but don’t try to tell people that EVERYONE can have these kinds of trips in their life if they just rearranged their priorities. it sounds a little (a lot) condescending.

          • Amit das

            It depends on your priority. As simple as that. If traveling is priority for someone, the person can even live in his own camp instead of a luxury hotel, for accomplishing the hunger of travel. The problem of this article is the author never understood the meaning of the saying “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel”. Travel doesn’t really mean you have to stay in a 5 star luxury hotel and enjoying sauna at spa.

          • victoria g

            the single mom who works two jobs to pay her mortgage doesn’t want to hear about how “cheap and easy” it is to travel to Goa, India if she just “reduces herself to basic needs”. you can say that it’s awesome and wonderful all you want, but don’t try to tell people that EVERYONE can have these kinds of trips in their life if they just rearranged their priorities. it sounds a little (a lot) condescending.

          • Amit das

            People who really have passion for travel, money does not matter to them. It is not exaggerated. If someone has “travel” as passion, they plan their lives accordingly. I know people who are not rich and working in food joints and other places to save money so that they can buy a trip. No, they don’t stay in a 5 start luxurious hotels. Even in India I have seen people just visit Goa and make their own camps near beaches to avoid hotel expense. Please don’t confuse with “passion” and just “traveling for leisure”.

          • Uma

            So there’s no middle ground between a 5 star resort and sleeping in a tent? It’s just one or the other? And you’re actually positing the latter as something feasible for most people who want to travel?

          • Amit das

            Of course there are 2 star and 3 star hotels where people can stay. So what? Nobody travels just 30 days in a month. If you have passion for travel, you will eventually save your money so that you can travel and stay in a hotel of your choice. If you don’t have that passion, anything related travel will sound waste of money to you.

        • Bishop

          But we in the third world countries are people, too.
          “Being from the first world country” ruins the purpose of this article for 6 billion people who are not.

  • Jane

    What’s with the chip on your shoulder, do you really lose any sleep over this girl being able to travel and post her motivational quotes? I enjoy your blog and advice most of the time but some of your rants on other people’s lifestyles and choices are childish, particularly anyone who comes from a more “privileged” background.

    • Katie

      way to miss the point of this post completely

    • Summer

      It’s not a matter of “losing sleep” over this chick’s financial privilege, it’s about the absurdity of the niche concept that exists on the internet that suggests money is of little importance and that if you want to traverse the world it’s as easy as just ~deciding~ you want to do it. It is one thing to encourage people to follow their dreams and take the necessary risks to achieve said dreams; it’s another to write lofty articles and photo captions under the premise that literally NOTHING can stand in your way if you want to travel the world. Money is very much a reality for many (most, probably) people, and it’s just not as simple as putting in two weeks’ notice and taking off. It’s the people whose rebuttal to this logic is “Well, then I guess travel just isn’t as important to you as it is to me!” or “When you decide this is what you really want, you’ll find a way to make it happen,” who make this such a frustrating topic. It belittles the desire and ambition of the person who cannot just up and leave.

      I have a mortgage and student loan debt and all the regular bills that come along with life, all of which I pay for with the salary I earn from my 8-5 office gig. If I quit or am fired from the job, I can’t pay those bills. If I am constantly whisking myself off to foreign lands every other month, eventually the job is going to nope me right on out the door since vacation time is not an unlimited resource. It’s not even necessarily just a matter of cash money for some of us, it’s also a matter of time affording the time away from our obligations. It’s a vicious cycle; I can’t travel as much as I’d like to because I can’t be away from my job as much as it would require, and I can’t afford to pay my bills or save for travel expenses if I don’t have a job. Yet, my passion for travel rivals that of someone who is fortunate enough to constantly be on the road.

      Obviously I can’t speak on behalf of Chelsea, but my interpretation of her words was not at all that of a lifestyle rant or passing judgment on the choices of others, but rather a realistic explanation that money is not something one can just “not worry about” because they suddenly decide not to.

      • Jane

        Ok, yes I sidestep the point of the article, but I was put off by the opener. The tone of many of Chelsea’s articles is centered around other people and their “privilege” (hate that word and what it’s come to mean) and Chelsea’s pull-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps-therefore-i-am-holier-than-thou lifestyle. I don’t come to this blog to read about that, I’d like to see more articles on personal finance for people like me and less about whining about other people’s circumstances.

        • chelseafagan

          Hey, Jane. I talk about privilege w/r/t money and class because we live in a society that deliberately DOESN’T talk about it, and our lack of transparency about this leads to many of our financial problems, including spending more than we have — through credit cards or otherwise — to appear a certain way.

          Part of what I want to do at TFD is have a place to dismantle that, both through exploring my own life, privileges, and insecurities, and through talking about the things that are often considered taboo to talk about, like income inequality and how we allow it to turn into condescension.

          If that’s not your taste, I get that, but this may not be the place for you in that case.

        • Buck Foomers

          Nailed it! This girl is a joke

      • Jessalyn Mastrianni Lord

        Side note- many many many Americans do not take all of their vacation time. I am not saying you should abuse it and get in trouble, but if you have earned time off, you should absolutely use every bit of it. And if your job frowns on that, then you should reconsider your current job. I know easier said than done, but if you have vacation time, you deserve to take it and not be worried about being away from your job for that time.

  • Christina Garofalo

    First off, this is a good, thought-provoking piece. While I completely agree with your comments about wealthy, privileged people who tout advice that does not apply to the reality of most people (I know many of them), I also have to disagree with some of your comments about the role of travel. I, personally, have been largely financially independent since I was 17 years old. When I graduated from college, I worked full time for three years, when I decided to quit my job to backpack through India and Southeast Asia. I worked two side jobs in addition to my full-time role for a year leading up to the trip to be able to afford it (while also gaining experience for my resume). I fully recognize that this is not feasible nor is it desirable for everyone, but I do believe that if you choose something to put all of your efforts toward — that is to say, if travel is THAT important to you — you can achieve some form of it.

    I’ll be the first to say that I was stressed about finances during the trip and after I came home, and I could have made my transition to freelance writing much easier had I not taken the trip. But I did gain invaluable insight and experience from that period of travel, and I have worked extremely hard and have sacrificed other comforts to make that path work for me. And that is my major gripe with what you are saying here. Yes, there are loads of people who travel because it is chic and because they can afford it, but for some people, myself included, I save my money (after making the responsible retirement savings and loan pay-offs) for travel because it is a priority for me — over having a new smartphone, a TV, and various other comforts. I view travel as a different form of education — one that is hard to gather from books. Someone else might prefer to save that extra money to buy a new outfit that they’ve been eyeing or to go to a nice dinner. Every hardworking person treats herself to something at some point, and the best part about responsible about financial planning is that it is your choice what that something is.

    That all being said, I 100% agree that one’s decision to travel has NOTHING to do with what type of person you are. Many people travel and experience nothing because they stay confined in their own bubble the whole time, and many other people have a worldly outlook simply because they force themselves out of their bubble and engage with their surroundings every day in their hometown or city. Foreign experiences are not the only experiences; it’s all about your outlook. Not to shamelessly plug, but I hope you’ll check out the piece I am posting tomorrow on AdventuresinFrugal.com, because it is about exactly this last point.

    • Papoï & co

      Thanks Christina, you pointed out exactly what I feel is missing from Chelsea article.

      We just left Europe, we are living in Brazil and we have financial problems and financially it will probably never be worth it (except if we get lucky and become rich and famous lol). The objective in moving was to try something different, not in a tourist way but living in a new country, learning Portuguese and in my case looking for a job, having to apply for a work visa… The cost of the whole thing is huge, I don’t take it as a privilege only, we did work and plan for it. And we do have a little boy with us.
      Although travelling or not will not make you a better or worse person, I have the feeling, after living now 9 years abroad, that people that choose not only to travel but to live in a different country are often open minded, flexible and connecting to people in a different way. The only evening I met you Chelsea, I really had that feeling. And it was not the travelling that made you a better person but the way you did it, seeing my country through your eyes was enriching. A dream can be worth a lot of money (be it a travel, or a job, or just feeling happy with yourself). What is wrong is people who refuse to travel with their mind, to see the other perspective on the world, and accept to leave their comfort zone to keep it safe at home. Sometime we have to travel out of the comfort zone, however one can do that by staying in his home town for his whole life.

      it is late and I am very tired so I will stop here for now. Hoping my mind was still clear enough for the beginning.

    • Natalia

      I agree with pretty much everything you said Christina. I also put a lot of effort to be able to travel around the world from the moment I established a steady financial situation. I could have bought an apartment or a new car, but instead I saved money to backpack in Europe and South America (and as a 22 year old girl, I was the first one in my whole family to go abroad). And yes, that had a lot to do with my dedication and my choices.
      But what I believe the author meant (and that totally relates to my reality), is that I could had never done this travels if i didn’t have the privileges my family gave me, even as middle class family (good school, social, moral and financial support during high school that helped me get into a good college and consequently find a good job, and the simple fact I didnt have to financially provide for my family.) If any of these cases weren’t true, I wouldn’t have been able to save that money an spend it travelling
      So even though I’m in a big way responsible for these accomplishments, a lot of people didn’t have the foundation or conditions that allowed me to get where I’m today.And a lot of people can’t say the same.

      (sorry for the bad english haha)

    • Ying Ying Koo

      Sometimes it is not just about how financially independent you are..it is also about whether you need to take care of your family. You are lucky to be able to travel around without having much responsibility worries because your parents are still healthy and can take care of themselves. Would you have done the same if your parents are unable to take care of themselves eg. Bedridden and you are the sole breadwinner?

  • Kate

    I can’t help but wonder why you avoid mentioning the number one reason many middle to working-class Americans fail to travel – our total lack of vacation time. Even if we manage to save it’s just not worth using our grand total of 10 days of PTO to go ransacking overseas. By the time you get back you are so exhausted from trying to see everything that you need a vacation from your vacation. And that’s if you are single without a family to consider. Hell, with the number of weddings I’m scheduled to attend I think I’ll have a full five days off of work this year to go somewhere. There is barely anytime to have a life outside of work with the average American lifestyle. Half of all working Americans were unable to take a single vacation day last year, I mean come on.

    • chelseafagan

      I did not mean to in any way avoid that point — it’s a huge part of the puzzle and a really important discussion to have. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Mirna García

      Try Mexico, we have 6 days after one full year working, and this is only if you have a permanent contract.

  • Your article’s very relevant even though I live half way across the globe. Most of my peers are lucky to be able to afford vacations and even setting off for “sabbaticals” (am planning one for myself).
    It does gets off-putting when when individuals from more privileged or better social/family background, tries to dish advice on traveling and how you can do it for very little money.
    The idea of travelling and the accessibility of it, has boomed in the last 10-20 years and when you throw in social media/networking, everything gets exaggerated. I guess we just need to take everything we view on social media, with a pinch of salt. Everyone probably have their own story, their own struggle.

    I enjoy your writing alot! Thank you!

  • Kelli

    With every article you post I love you more and more. Keep it comin!

  • Shaney

    Oh my goodness. Thank you! Finally someone gets it. This is something I have been thinking about over the past couple of months and you have completely articulated my thoughts. Love it!

  • Razvan Cojocaru

    Well put but I strongly disagree with the last paragraph. Responsibility wise, where’s the difference between the fancy girl’s advice to travel anyway VS. your doubt-inserting advice to think twice before doing it? To clarify, there’s a very thin line between responsibility for our actions and responsibility for our decisions. Everyone should do the proper due diligence before say, leaving on a round-the-world trip: why do I want to do this, what do I want to change in me, which things I can sacrifice, etc. i call it the Darwinism of Consciousness, guess we’ve all seen Trainspotting – life is not an easy thing, only the very strong ones will get through.
    And do you think that if someone has an unexplained desire just to sell everything and leave, will they be able to bury it or understand it? They will do it anyway, and get burned, and suffer, and despair and finally find peace in a fragile balance.
    Putting aside the above, your article is superb and to have in an article this size such an amount of tough conclusions is a great achievement!

  • Nicolas De Boni

    Travelers are definitely a welcome topic with different layers to mock on. Reading your post and reflecting on the point you’re making, some other group came on my mind: on all the volunteers on this planet, who think they are altering their karma while looking down on you and getting paid for work. All those who pretend as they’d be following higher ideals, remote of all those materialistic needs, like Jesus, having a higher legitimacy in walking the surface on earth.

    …and therefore kind of positioning you as a low human being that is just ignorantly following the capitalist dictate. While totally neglecting that volunteering is often a luxury, a leisure activity that requires some previous savings. And then they are playing it as a status game actually. An activity that is communicated loudly on any available media.

    As if teaching some kids English in Laos while waving their smartphones in their face and getting wasted with their fellow volunteers at night would alter those kids life quality.

    • Orville Buckle

      You seem enjoyable, your mocking in this post comes of as quite hypocritical. Helping people is helping. I don’t think i’m better than anyone for it and it is a good way to kill a couple weeks and meet new people, you are absolutely correct. Should no one volunteer their time or money then? Does it not serve a purpose ever? Just cause volunteering comes with positives for the person doing so doesn’t mean it doesn’t help, every decision people make is selfish in their own ways. Most people I come across don’t think they have a higher legitimacy than anyone (although it’s quite apparent that legitimate is how you view your scorching hot take opinion) and are very self aware and understand their place on the totem pole. At least the author didn’t come across as an entitled douche and had some self awareness in what she was stating, you’re spewing venom just to spew. You come across as salty (and psst I think your jealousy is showing).

  • Orville Buckle

    I’m probably too late to the party to get a reply (I just read the article on the Time website today) but I feel it is important to give my 2 cents anyways. While I roll my eyes at every “follow your dreams” Facebook post as well (especially those posted by friends who constantly bitch about quality of life with no true desire to improve it) I think your anger is misguided and you’re definitely making a blanket statement about everyone who encourages their friends to travel.

    IF you do have a family and mortgage etc… that should be your priority and you’ve chosen to make that your priority. However, in no way at all have myself or many other travelers I’ve met come from “privilege”. It’s something that we made a priority and busted our asses to afford and in most cases coming back a little more financially worse for wear has been worth it. For a website that is based around giving financial advice, you’d figure to come across an article giving advice when the appropriate time to travel is not one belittling those who have worked for the opportunity to do so.

    If a person wants to travel it is something that does have to be carefully planned, and as long as you’re not too saddled (kids, car payments, mortgage) it is absolutely something you can make a possibility if you’re willing to put the hours in. Saying “drop everything and travel” is bad advice in a nutshell. But if you’re willing to rearrange your priorities it is also something you can do with little consequence. For every rich prick who doesn’t gain anything from their experience other than “look what my money can afford me” you’ll meet people who can set you up with careers and life opportunities going back to a 9 to 5 (or in my case 6-6) everyday for years won’t grant you.

    While talking about privilege is important (like super fucking important with everything happening between the haves and the have nots in our society), it seems misplaced in an article for travelling advice. As someone who came from a background of little to no privilege I’ll say working towards doing what you want is very important. If you want to go to school, go to school, if you want to do the family and career combo have at er, and if you want to travel (and you’re not committed to the shit I just listed) then get out there. There is plenty of websites on the internet that will set you up with jobs while you travel so you can stay at least somewhat financially above water while doing something that absolutely will change your outlook as long as you look in the right places. You’ll have to make it a priority before work, school, family, but if it’s what you want to do then it should be your priority.

    As my inebriated uncle let me know, during his wedding in the backyard of my grandparents trailer (only place anyone in our family was ever able to afford to have a wedding), on the happiest day of his life “Don’t work to live, live to work”. I didn’t understand what this meant until I spent from 18 to 21 years old busting my ass at the same plant, putting in 12 hour days, trying to help out everyone around me, getting away from the poverty I grew up in. If you don’t owe anything, and you want to do something, you can work to obtain it, and should be encouraged to do so. Been travelling and working odd jobs ever since with no “security net” other than the fact i’m always willing to work and don’t have a regret about it. On the other hand I meet plenty of people who regret the careers they’ve pursued, studies they chose to take, and instead of writing condescending articles about them I opted to give advice on how they might be able to accomplish doing what the want to do.

    • Carol Topalian

      I agree with your post. It’s ironic, telling someone not to tell someone X – like the writer of the article did. Everyone is aware of the pros and cons of choosing what to do with money and time. If you’re born into wealth, then lucky for you: skiing in the Alps, a private school education, Spring Break in the Caribbean -whathaveyou – I guess that’s your privilege. In the 1970s the ordinarys – the middle class kids could go backpacking in Europe; fast forward 20 years and backpacking in S. E. Asia was affordable. I know that, at 50, I really want everything: my best home, my best car, my best travel options: but I still can’t have it all, at the same time. It’s been like that all my life. At least I found my best career and a decent salary! Good luck to all, making the life formula work, and I hope you have tons of fun and adventure whether at home or abroad.

    • Ralli Soph

      you nailed it

    • Uma

      That fact that you could contemplate travel as an option is indeed a privilege. My God, you guys are missing the damn point and are arguing that you’re not privileged because you don’t live in a chateau. There are TONS of people who slave away at their menial jobs and cannot ever make more than enough to cover basic necessities. They can’t even save enough money to spend on little pleasures much less expensive ones like travel. Their jobs don’t allow them time off for travel. Or they have other obligations like being a full time caretaker to a disabled family member. If you don’t have any of those roadblocks preventing you from travel, then yes YOU ARE PRIVILEGED. Privilege isn’t binary. It doesn’t strictly apply to the wealthy elite, even if you’re just middle class you’re still better off than most people financially speaking. I guess the author’s mistake was in not applying her rant to those who think having to make “sacrifices” for travel disqualifies them from the privileged label. Kudos to you for making it out of poverty, but believe it or not that just makes you one of the lucky few. Most poor people cannot just pull themselves up by the bootstraps and climb out of destitution like you did. Recognize that having access to the opportunities you did was a privilege as well.

  • Maám Prezy

    LOL!!!!Loved the part which says it makes you an asshole. It’s very true what you say though. I personally love worrying about money, and I will continue to do so with billions in my account. GIVE ME A QUADRILLION DOLLARS, i will never spend a dime on travelling!!! Some people simply just hate travelling, with or without money…

  • AndreaBlythe

    I agree completely. I’ve been very privileged to have a job that has allowed me to travel. My work takes me to conferences in Europe and across the U.S. and my boss is flexible enough with my time that I’ve been able to stay up to a week after working to experience the local. It meant traveling alone quite a lot because none of my family or friends could afford the plane ticket to join me, and I would never expect them to drop everything in order to do so.

    Also, even with my plane ticket paid for and staying in hostels and eating cheap, the travel has put strain on my budget, which was beginning to stress me out. So I’ve stepped back from taking extra time in order to pay down debt I’ve accrued and get myself into a more stable financial place. I was telling someone that I was paying off my credit cards and building a savings safety net. The someone told me I should just take the money I was saving and go on an awesome trip! They clearly didn’t understand the point of my efforts, which are very important to me.

    • Summer

      Can I ask what you do for a living? (and if your company is hiring? hehe)

      • AndreaBlythe

        lol. I’m an editor at a technical trade magazine. We publish technical articles about the wordwide aluminum industry, so sometimes I get to attend conferences and visit industrial sites. 🙂

  • Guest

    I find this post ridiculous in some way. Yes, having a good grasp of the importance of money is a good thing. But if people can travel, and have the chance to do so, then how does it affect you if they take advantage of their privilege? If you are doing well, as you say you are, then you are fine. End of. If you feel like you need to judge others for not being to appreciate the things you do, then you have a lot of grief in the future. For what it’s worth, not everyone has the chance to learn about what’s important in life.

    People who travel like this are currently in their learning process and someday they will eventually find out what they have been neglecting. It isn’t up to you to act all holy about what they do, because after all, it is their lives and their money.

  • Great piece, Chelsea!
    As being someone from southern Europe you mention, I can verify that this “gap” becomes even bigger as you go “south”. We have the same mindset. And much less money. 🙂

  • i couldn’t have said it any better.

  • Finnegan Murphy

    “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel” isn’t bad advice. It might not be realistic advice, but it’s not bad advice. The article starts by emphasizing the privilege of doing a masters in Europe. In reality it requires way more privilege/money to do an undergrad degree in the US than a masters in Europe. I agree that making someone feel bad about not being able to travel is uncool(maybe this is the most important point the author is trying to make), but on the other hand the possibility of getting to travel is a great motivator. A few years ago I decided I wanted to go to Switzerland to see this girl I’d met, but I didn’t have the means to do so myself. I was/am a fairly privileged guy, but I couldn’t afford a ticket across the Atlantic, and nobody was going to give it to me. So I did whatever I could everyday to save up maybe $10,$20,$30/day. I spent barely any money, became somewhat anti-social, sold stuff on ebay, busked a little, etc. Half of the progress I made came from the price of a ticket going down. After a month or so I had enough money to pay for maybe half of the ticket. So I bought it with a high interest credit card and tried to pay back some of the debt before I left. Maybe I didn’t worry about money, but I definitely had to think about it a lot. I also hated going into debt. It’s something I’m very wary/critical of, but it enabled me in the short term to not miss out on a massive opportunity. So anyways my financial situation was significantly worse than the author of this article, but the trip was definitely worth it. I got to be with an awesome woman for a month, see her country, and learn a little bit of a new language. In the long run it even paid off financially because I now live in Switzerland debt free (after having visited 3 times), have lower living costs than I would have living on my own in America (have no car, no ac, tiny fridge, 3 housemates, etc.), and a higher wage (although I don’t get many hours and I’m still not financially independent). So even if a person struggles financially, they can still benefit from traveling, or just outright migration.

  • Agustín Lorenzo

    EXCELLENT article. I have been saying this too many times. Rich travelling people think they’re so deep and cultural. The true story is that they’re sad, lonely and superficial people that can ONLY find meaning in their lives by visiting other places and posting about it.
    I HAVE TRAVELLED, since I was a baby, to more than 15 countries in many continents including Northamerica, Central America, South America, Europe, AFRICA and currently planning a work visit to Antartida. But I DON’T seek “true” and “profound” meaning in those travels, I just do it for work or pleasure. TRAVELLING IS NOT AN IMPERATIVE MORAL HUMAN VALUE on it’s own. I prefer someone that stays home and works hard to feed their kids, than some stupid rich girl who posts pictures from Peru and then talks about how she “found herself in the middle of the jungle” (yeah, that happened).
    Please… you’re full of sh*t, and you know it. Get a job. Get a life.

    • crestind

      It really depends on the percentage of selfie photos. The higher the number of selfies, the more self absorbed the blogger is. Some people can travel and post lots of great photos without being ego tripping head cases.

    • Jessalyn Mastrianni Lord

      Just because you don’t seek profound meaning, doesn’t mean others can’t find it. Seeing how other people live is eye-opening and important. Telling people they are privileged and then telling them NOT to visit other cultures seems ridiculous. I understand there are some that just want it to turn into instagram fame, but not ALL travellers with money are “sad, lonely, and superficial.” For someone so “worldly,” I would think you’d be less judgmental.

  • Tyler

    Ladies and gentleman. We hereby grant this article the Oscar for the most sober writing on The Internet.

  • Janet Newenham

    I always appreciate a different point of view, and love when people write articles that go against the grain. That said, I don;t fully agree with it this time so I thought I would share my respone to your article on Medium – https://medium.com/@janetnewenham/why-don-t-worry-about-money-just-travel-is-actually-the-best-advice-of-all-time-971a35dfef2

  • Pablo Faria


  • swimrunfun

    Give me the migratory life any day. Staying in one place makes one stagnant and set in their ways. Keep moving. Make moving a lifestyle. Your bones will get old. Delay gratification at your own peril. This is the problem with the human race.

  • Viviane

    The typical opinion that shows one major feeling towards travel: envy. Not everyone is a “thick tourist” and some people cut down on so many things to experience and have a full life or travel experiences and meaningful ones too. Others pay a mortgage, buy clothes and a car, get trapped with the status, get married with an expensive dress and party…… I have traveled extensively, rather, I’ve lived in some countries, I became fluent in 4 languages, I am a travel and commercial photographer and I support myself and have worked at the most odd jobs, to make my travels happen, and I would not have any other life. I never brag about it as I don’t think my way is the way for everyone. I just think that the article feeds this anger against people who dare do something different with their lives. And it has nothing to do with money, some people can’t, I know, they can’t but in most cases it is choice. And people that chose other things view travellers under a shallow light. Yes there is always going to have the rich kid who parties all over the world, but a person who moves to study and get educated is just as valid as someone who strives to be CEO and travel when he retires at 65. Choices again. But when I made my choice with no guarantees (life offers none) to embrace travel as work and leisure and learning, I made my choice. I never owned a car, a pet or never had kids. I never spent money in weddings and I have a partner. And the life I’ll take to my grave will be an incredible one. It is a choice and I have always known I was going down that path. I think when your friend says “why don’t you travel more”? she’s only encouraging you to sample a little bit of the world like she has. And she shouldn’t say a thing, because each to his/her own…Not everyone loves to travel or is opened enough to experience different things and live outside your comfort zone.

    • Carol Topalian

      “I just think that the article feeds this anger against people who dare do something different with their lives. ” Yup, well said.

    • well I think it does take some privilege to have the mindset that allows one to acquire the skills need to be location independent. Further, some people have different talents not conducive to the road, and some people have such huge debts or other obligations that it is not possible. So I don’t think priviledge is entirely unrelated to one’s ability to travel. But I do agree that it’s not only privilege. I grew up in a family with a working class salary. My parents were never able to help me travel financial, but I’ve traveled around the world. And the reason I can do this is that travel isn’t any more expensive than regular life staying mobile in one place; travel is a matter of thinking outside the box about where to work, or how to work online. Maybe it takes privilege to acquire those things, but it’s far from a rich kids pass.

  • Tom

    I can’t say I’ve ever seen a travel blog post telling people to drop their kids/mortgage/infirm relatives so that they can go backpacking in Europe–but if such posts do exist, then I guess you did a great job refuting their claims.

    The way I see it, the bigger problem in society is that people frivolously waste their money instead of saving up for a goal (like traveling). And then they blame their inability to meet their financial goal on a lack of “privilege” instead of their own spending habits.

  • Thiago Bardelli

    Thanks for writing this article… I was always feeling kinda sad after seeing so many people travelling endlessly, and wondering why I didn’t have the courage to do the same. After some reflection, I think I got it now: I just can’t afford it. I have a mortage on my apartment and car, and a family to provide for. If I just quit everything, I may have a good time, or even a year – but what comes next? How move on in life with no source of providing?

  • Baakus

    Very well written. Thought Catalog used to be one of the worst perpetrators on the internet of this. I think they’ve toned it down a bit, though.

    Some people here bring up the fact that they saved up money to travel the world. That’s better than simply traversing through the well-tread paths of Europe on mommy-daddy’s dime, but you’re still showing a blind spot to your own advantages. For one, there’s the opportunity cost of spending months or even years purely as a consumer with negative income. If you’re the only person you have to take care, that may be fine. But a lot of people have to support their parents, siblings, even friends. Their savings can’t just be regarded as disposable income to spend on themselves.

    There are also cultural advantages some people have. For example, children of immigrant parents often have a ton of pressure to repay their parents’ sacrifices and risks by following the straight and narrow path to “success.” Or a minority kid from a bad neighborhood has pressures put upon her to represent her community well by “succeeding” in a socially acceptable way.

    So yeah, if you have the means and freedom to travel, then go ahead and treat yourself. But as the article astutely points out, stop acting as though your advantages somehow make your more adventurous, romantic, or exciting than the majority of people who aren’t as lucky as you.

    • Kiwi

      Pozhal, is that you?

      If you are him, can we please exchange emails as I’d like to talk to you in private.

    • cm1234

      I will just say that you don’t have to be a minority or immigrant to have those societal or family pressures. My parents verbally expressed they wanted me married with kids when I was 30. I get asked all the time from my grandparents about when I might settle down. Despite the pressures put on myself and many women in their 30s – I have made a choice to focus on my job, and use any disposable income on spending time with friends/family – and this includes traveling – instead of upgrading my old ikea furniture, buying a condo, or a car. Yes I am lucky enough to have a job that gives me disposable income and yes I don’t need to financially support my parents but there are lots of things society would rather me spend my money on than a back-packing trip to Vietnam. For some people, traveling or moving to another country instead of buying more “stuff” and climbing the corporate ladder is an act of rebellion. Telling people that they can find happiness in things that aren’t material or societal norms- to me – is a great message.

      Just because a message doesn’t speak to everyone, doesn’t make it wrong. I know people who have left jobs to travel and haven’t ended up on the streets after. Don’t judge them because they have the guts and the means to take that risk…. and share their experience with their friends.

  • danny

    I completely agree with your article. And even though im considered privileged in the sense that I got to travel a little bit (through lots of saving and prioritising). There is another point that I’d like to add, I’m a Jordanian, and my passport doesn’t allow me to travel on a whim, a trip to Europe right now would need at least a month and a half to get a VISA with a cost of 80 Euro (your application can be easily cancelled and money non refundable. You also have to show a valid plane ticket and hotel reservation prior to knowing whether you will actually get the visa or not), so yeah I would add to this article the “privileged first world country resident who is actually allowed to travel”, because just this month, I was denied entry to another country I intended to travel to (lost some money on this one) and didn’t have enough time to apply for a visa for another country…..
    So, enjoy this privilege people, just as much as I enjoy the previlage of how “strong” the Jordanian passport is comparing to the passports of my Syrian, Lebanese, or Palestinian friends…

  • Hawthorne

    Oh man…having trouble adding a comment because there are 42 total comments right now, and I’m a Hitchhiker’s geek.

    My reaction is mixed. I don’t like braggarts any more than you do. Who would? But I just did a five-month trip across the UK and Iceland, this past November to March. And I’ve been simplifying my life, so here are my thoughts for anyone considering it.

    I went:

    – Haringey – Oxford – Hackbridge – Hafnarfjordur – Kopavogur – Edinburgh – and…um…somewhere…near Heathrow for my final week?

    The way I did this was by taking a seasonal job last year that ended in November, and saving money like crazy. Refusing to eat out, sacrificing social life, selling unnecessary furniture and possessions. I started planning it in September, sold my car in October to avoid storage/maintenance costs, and stuck everything else I owned in storage instead of renewing my apartment lease. I left with a backpack, a suitcase and a promise that my job would be waiting again come April.

    As for walking away from it all and starting a new life, I can recommend it. If you can, and if you’re strong enough. I’ve got no kids, and date quite a bit but not married. I spent a decade in banking until I realized I was throwing my life away into a Dilbert cartoon. Now, in my mid-30’s, I’m a groundskeeper for a small town sports park. I walk home covered in dirt, looking homeless, but tan, happier and in better shape than I was throughout my 20’s. I make half the salary I used to but I have *never*, not once, woken up and thought, “Oh s***, I have to go to work today.”

    Truth: *The emotional rewards for giving up something awful but comfortable for something harder but fulfilling are INCALCULABLE.* And, frankly – you’re going to die tomorrow. This statement might be true for at least one person reading this. Hope for a stable future, plan ahead, but accept that a bus could hit you tomorrow, and your last thoughts as you pinwheel through the air will not be, “Thank GOD I spent yesterday triple-checking form 63B!”

    Back to travel. I called what I did “astronautting” because money was planned and rationed like oxygen. Let me be clear: I planned *obsessively* for two months. Checking Google Flights every day. Picking countries to visit based on how cheap it was to fly/train there from other countries. Discarding AirBNB spots because they weren’t within walking distance of a train station, grocery store and laundromat. Balancing how far I could stay away from central cities to save on lodging, with cost of then traveling into those centers to sightsee. My trip was even more complicated, but a host cancelled mid-January, and I had to scramble desperately to replan.

    I allowed myself very small treats within budget. I ignored every friend who told me to relax and go nuts. I got a LondonPass and crammed months of sightseeing into a single week so I could get a discount on all of it, and I bought it knowing I wouldn’t get to pay for tours and events in other countries. I walked around a lot every day. Mostly, I sat around in my room, at libraries, in public spaces, writing and blogging on my laptop. I booked a month in each place (except Oxford and north-of-Heathrow) to get the monthly discount on AirBNB. I applied for apartments a month before returning, and was lucky enough to sofa-surf for a week with a friend until my new lease started.

    The downsides? It was lonely. It was boring. Traveling alone sucks. Language barriers made me feel like the most ignorant American worm ever. Some folks treated me like dirt no matter how abjectly and politely I apologized for not understanding some simple facet of their daily lives. I made friends, and even dated, but everyone treats you like exactly what you are – someone who is probably never coming back. By the final month I was so ready to go home it hurt.

    (Also, the Tube at rush hour. DO NOT DO IT.)

    The upsides? You get to meet people with their own interesting lives and stories, even if they’ve never been out of their own town. You get to see many mind-numbingly beautiful things for free. You, broke-ass, seasonal-employee, you, will learn just how self-sufficient and minimalist you are *really* capable of being. I’m not talking rich-kid hippie “oh, what an EXPERIENCE” stuff. You will learn exactly how good you are at surviving, out there on your own, and I promise you – you ARE good at it, because you have to be. Because you never got a real chance to find out, safe and comfortable, back at home.

    When you’re home again, you’ll continue on in your new life of less, having sacrificed yourself to yourself. You will keep surviving, and making do. Maybe you’ll build up again, maybe you won’t. But, no lie, no preaching, no smugness – you will be stronger for it. You’ll have a hell of a bunch of new memories. You’ll have this amazing sense of “I did it”.

    And when the bus hits you tomorrow, you’ll fly through the air, and think, “Thank GOD I won’t be coming down in JFK Customs.”

    • Carol Topalian

      Bravo! A life being well-lived – I appreciate your story!

      • Hawthorne

        Thanks Carol, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Alice W

    While I agree people who have no actual problem when it comes to funding said travel are not the best source of inspirational posts, I think a point is missed here.

    The point of “don’t worry about money just travel” is that it’s scientifically proven to give you more satisfaction than other things. BUT – the important words here are “worry”, as you correctly identify, but also the “more” in “more satisfaction”.

    There is true financial need, where you’re right it’s not worry – it’s awareness and anxiety about it, really a constant analyzing for how to solve the problem. But then there’s relative financial choices. And a lot of us spend a large amount of our budget on things that won’t make us as happy as travel. Cable, cars, decorating or otherwise trying to make sure your house or apt looks nice over just is functional, what you have to do/have/prepare to have a group of people over, clothing beyond the basics, really ANY decision where we buy more of something or a nicer one of something than is strictly necessary, or overspend on things that are a social norm like gifts/cards/flowers etc – these are things that we might be better off sacrificing if it means affording travel.

    Personally I think it’s easy to get a fixed notion in your head about ways to live if you don’t travel. When I spend a long time not traveling, I start accepting too much as necessary the choices people in my area make with regard to their lifestyle. When I travel the main thing I take home with me is awareness of all the MORE options there are. It’s a tremendous feeling of freedom, to me personally, knowing I could decide to change my place and how that would affect the pressures of “what do my kids need” “what do I need” “what is enough”. Esp as an American it’s such a relief to remember that what we consider normal is really an overabundance of stuff (and this was true even when I was growing up constantly stressed about money). And it’s accompanied by a feeling of being trapped at the same time. Travel is an escape that also reminds you that your trap wasn’t real, it was a set of norms that started to SEEM real. That’s the positive side of the message.

    But yes it’s obnoxious coming from someone who just gets to, then tries to sound like it’s a case of their own moral superiority/choices. Because they haven’t sacrificed anything to get there, so they really shouldn’t be advising anyone who WOULD have to sacrifice in order to get there. They’re basically talking out of their ass about something they know nothing about.

  • Chad Emerson Thompson

    Sorry, stop making excuses for your decision not to travel. You either do or you don’t, it’s up to you. That’s what they’re saying!

  • Trevor Palen

    I think one thing that people should keep in mind is that as US citizens and native English speakers (assumption), it doesn’t take that much of an investment to become an English teacher. You don’t need to be the best teacher ever to use teaching as a means of travel.

    Regarding having to support family. That’s a hard decision. I can’t say that a person should absolutely decide to put themselves first in order to travel over their family (assuming this is a person’s Mom/Dad/Brother/Sister and not Spouse/Kids). That being said, sometimes it’s okay to make the selfish choice. Sometimes you have to say “This is what I really want, and I’m going to go for it”. You may not get to backpack through 5 different countries, but even living in another one while maintaing a job to support yourself is a viable, and, thanks to our American privilege, a largely accessible means of travel. I do agree that touting a “throw all caution to the wind” approach is dickish and reeks of privilege, but just about any American who wants to travel can…they just need to commit to it and put a plan in place to make it happen.

  • Eric Nollet

    Perfect. I get very annoyed with the wealthy-parent self-righteous who dropped everything to travel or explore a lifestyle only made possible by their parents’ safety net. They would inform me of their enlightening journeys and experiences as if they were a sage first to discover some novel theory, when in reality they actually experienced a sliver of a culture’s lifestyle no greater than reading about it in a book.

  • Colin Cook

    Maybe your privelage is your issue and those who have “travelled” with work are missing the point. Maybe blogs sugar coat the reality but it isn’t all fairys and finding ones self in a mediation bath on top a mountain in Nepal. The truth is one of the best things that comes from travel is that for the most part how much money or privelage you have means nothing, it’s about taking the safety net away and not just in a monetary sense. For a long time when I travelled I could tell those who really understood what they were getting from their experience by the first few questions they asked, what do you do for a living? What car do you drive? Questions nobody asks or cares about. Where have you been, what did you see, who did you meet? These are the conversations and they have meaning we care about the answers we aren’t just all trying to one up the other like keeping up with the Jones.

    Your article shows a lack of understanding and hints at a jealous streak of wishing you had done when you were found what she is doing now. I’m 32 and I wish I went when I was young but I couldn’t because of 40k worth of debt, in “sensible” world I should have “sorted it out” for a good job, a home and saved for the future but it taught me the opposite, I worked hard for 7 years paid it off entirely quit my well paid job that I earned through hard work with no higher education, sold everything and set off round the world and I am far from done, I travel and I work and I work hard when I need to but I have learned more from the experience than in ever would paying a mortgage and commuting the same route everyday and I am far from done I will travel until something stops me or until maybe one day I feel like I have had enough.

    My suggestion to everyone isn’t screw money travel, it’s forget money and do whatever it is your heart wants, don’t let money be the decision maker in your life and certainly don’t waste energy trying to tell others they are wrong for their life choices.

  • Colin Cook

    And if a boy from a Thai hill tribe who grew up collecting cabbages can go and get himself a job in a restaurant, teach himself English and become a tour guide who now travels all over Thailand then anyone in modern England has just as much a chance to travel than anyone, it’s the mind set that gets you there.

  • Lucy Margaret

    I do agree that most of the times, before being able to travel, we need a security awaiting for us back home. But that is not always the case. People have been migrating, traveling, exploring…way before the money was an issue and the need we have to keep doing so must be preserved and not attacked. You can decide to stay confy and you will need to have everything settled down, all your automatic payments arranged, all your bills sorted out and you may wanna leave the keys of your apartment to a friend to feed the cat and water your plants…..or, you may decide not to own anything permanent or not to have any loan, and travel as often as you can. I have friends, with very little money, who have traveled for months hitchhiking on any mean of transportation they could. They have been guests of friends they have met on the way and when they went back to the start, they faced the risk of no job, no food, no apartment. This because the freedom of moving beyond borders, living in and with different cultures is a mission that is as challenging as it is rewarding. People who travel as a life experience (not the ones going in a villages in Madagascar to pet a lemur and eat pizza) are open minded and understand the ways and differences among cultures. I also believe they are more loving and carrying and would never start a war and kill friends here and there. So sure, to travel is nowadays a privilege, but instead of condemning the ones who tell you to go out there and forget about your loans, your bills and all the paper money you need to live, maybe you should condemn a system that is chaining you to a country that obliges you to work 2 jobs to be able to eat and have a shelter. And finally, if you are living in USA or Europe, maybe have a car, eat sushi and go to Starbucks… you already are a rich privileged person compared to the rest of the World so I am not sure what you are talking about here…it is still a little tea time discussion around a dolls´table….

  • finsbury

    Couldn’t disagree with this article more. America is a middle class trap. But you don’t have to be privileged to experience other parts of the world. yes, if you took on student loans, you need to be responsible for those, but other than that, we are all on the same playing field. Sell your car, sell your house and all of the sudden your only bills are your student loans, food, and travel insurance and health insurance (this is the big one in my opinion). I spend $3-4k/month when I’m living in the US, I spend $2k/month when traveling. I spend $1k/month when living abroad. I live in one of the most expensive city in the world currently and I get by on $1k/month. I get 4 weeks paid vacation, 17 public holidays, free health care, pay 15% taxes. I can save more money in 1 year here than I could in 3 back home with a good job. Working abroad is easy because you can get rid of high rents, cars, car insurance, $100/month cell phone plans, high taxes, etc. All this stuff where “I could have owned a car and put a down payment on a house), etc. who cares. The whole point in traveling is that you are not tied down by those things. Here is some real advice from someone who had a ton of student loan debt and wanted to travel: Work 70 hours per week for a few years, every weekend, every holiday, etc Just put off having a life for a couple of years out of school. Save up some money, purchase a rental property with cash flow or better yet something that you can live out of and call home (like a garage apartment) while the rest of the house pays for your mortgage, bills, loans, etc. At that point your living expenses go to zero. Then you are free to do whatever you want. Save a little bit more as an emergency fund for you rental property and for travel and that’s it. I’m serious, If I had to do it over again, I would have never saved a dime in retirement accounts and just focused on cash flow real estate. How can you go broke if you have money coming in 24/7 while you sleep or travel or whatever. it makes the playing field even. Then you can go live like a local and have that little cushion to fall back on. Yes it is freakign hard if you make $15/hr. But if you have a college degree, just work 2 jobs and bust your ass and get ahead enough where you can get a loan to generate passive income. Don’t get ahead enough so you can spend it on vacation. $4000/month is the same as having $1,000,000 in investments in the stock market. Which is easier to obtain? Serious advice, buy a home for 5% down that has like 4 bedrooms, then close in the garage and live in that and rent out the 4 rooms. Live in that for a year to satisfy your loan, then buy another one for 5% down and repeat. It’s just math. If it doesn’t generate enough income then you pass on that one. whatever you do don’t save up $20k and then go take off and travel. This article is correct on that, your expenses back home, on the road, etc. will eat away at it. I did it that way and regretted it….5 years of working for 1 year of travel wasn’t worth it. I saw the folly of my ways and started buying properties and renting out on AirBNB. I finally landed one by accident that generates enough money in 1 week during a festival to cover mortgage for an entire year. That was luck. I actually make more money on that during the rest of the year than I do working in any job. However since I like my job I moved to a country and a job that allows me to work every other week, plus 6 weeks vacation, plus free health care, plus 15% taxes. I’m telling you there are many ways to travel. I have a friend who has been going for 6 years now. He lives off $15/day and has a wonderful blog. Did you realize that if you write a book about your travels and get it published then the entire thing is tax deductible? maybe a blog that makes money is the same way? Get an internet business going, freelance work online, travel writing, photography, etc. Yes, you have to have money coming in to cover all of the side stuff, but no, you don’t have to be rich. Just DO NOT save up a bunch of money and go spend it, you will just have a cool photo album to show for it. DO save up some money and invest it into something with passive income so that you can sustain your travels and adventures.

  • Doy Virginia

    Chelsea—your essay is spot-on and all I can say is that I couldn’t have said it better myself. There is nothing more annoying than the self-absorbed wealthy young Yuppies who have never experienced the want of anything in their lives. Because their sugar-daddy parents or that trust fund setup by their maiden aunt has insured they can always “follow their dreams”.

    I know it’s pointless to waste time begrudging others their good fortune. As to myself: I have always wanted to travel, but financial and work responsibilities have always been a factor against it. I am a farmer in Nebraska, and also work a job to support my beloved farm. Being one of five kids of a dad who was a tenant farmer all his life, there was never a lot of money floating around for luxuries like unlimited travel. Yet my 30 years as a farmer has given me skills and experience that none of these globe-trotters could ever hope to attain, no matter how many first-class airline trips they take to Tasmania or Kenya. I know how to take a pile of bags of seed corn and fertilizer and turn it into a successful crop–from the time it is planted in the ground until it is harvested and in the bin. I have worked far into the night running a combine to get the harvest in before a storm. And if there is a breakdown, I know how to fix the machinery. I was a dairy farmer, and I have rescued baby calves in blizzards and know what to do when a valuable animal is sick. I have been knee-deep in cow manure to help a cow give birth in the middle of the night.

    I came across your article shortly after reading one of those annoying travelogues someone had posted about their trip across the Australian outback. This person was gushing about how they thought the ranch’s were “cool”, the cattle were “adorable”, and the dingoes were “cute”. Yet as I was looking at her pictures of the “neat” farms and wheat fields, I was thinking to myself: I could actually WORK on one of those Australian ranches. I could climb into one of their John Deere tractor cabs and start planting the wheat–because that is something I have done myself for years. I could help work the cattle, because I know the hard work and dangers of working with large livestock. I could take a shotgun and shoot the “cute” coyotes, because I know what vicious predators they can be.

    So in my own small way, I have actually experienced for real some of the things these self-entitled child-adults have only looked at. They may have “seen” lots of things in this world, but that doesn’t equate or replace knowledge and experience.

  • Tiffany Nasavan

    I think my opinion differs from most of people concerning this article. True, this piece is a provocative one. It did just that after I read it. I disagree with the general essence of the article, even though I can understand the point of view of a person that has obligations toward families( but at the same time, it was a choice to have kids). Yes, I envy the people who have the luxury to have lots of money to travel without having to work for it, but I prefer having these people traveling the world with that money than to spend it in material things (expensive cars, clothes, diamonds, etc.). I often hear people say, if I was a millionaire, I would buy big house (why? everyone has different interest). I agree that with a security net of money, traveling is easier but I am pretty sure that not a lot pf people even with all the money in the world would choose to spend money towards traveling. Maybe it’s because I am a selfish person, but I do believe you have the choice to do whatever you want. I get that some have obligations, but at the end of the day, it’s your life. To decide to go traveling the world with little money is a difficult decision to take, to leave everything behind and go wander, I believe is harder than to stay and to kept working the same job to feed your family. To do what basically society program us to see as the right and normal thing to do. I am not saying everyone should quit their job and travel, but at least think about it if it’s something you ever wanted to do. To have the guts to back everything up and start fresh is rare. It doesn’t meant to necessarily to travel. it could be to change career path and go back to school. It could be anything, here we are talking about traveling. I just think that the people who do decide to “drop everything and follow their dreams,” are inspiring. Even more when, they have little money and decide to take the leap of faith and go. My comment may not make sense but, I believe that traveling is the only thing that you buy that makes you richer. I’ve started to travel at 16 with my own money and was raised by one parent, and i caught the travel bug and it pretty much ruined my life. I don’t see the world the same way as the majority of people now, and because my opinion diverge from the norm that what makes it difficult. If I would have never traveled, I would probably not be believing in the values I believe in today. I just think that if everyone did travel at a young age, where we are still getting to know ourselves and the world around us, the definition of happiness would be less around money. In death, money can’t save us anyway, right? I am not saying everyone has to travel but, I would be eye-opening if everyone did in they 20’s. Anyway, this is only an opinion from 20 years old. 🙂

  • Di Cruz

    I, for the most part, disagree, while I agree with some parts, you are way off by a lot. You are assuming that most of these people are “privileged” when some are not.
    By the way, I don’t have student loan, or kids, or a mortgage. I woke up one day thinking that I can do this, and that I don’t need to go to college to attain this, that I don’t need a lot of money to do this, that if I truly wanted this, then I have to fight for it, and so I made a plan, but not a huge plan because I know that you can’t plan these things too much. A lot of things can happen between now and then. But, if you are determined, you CAN make it happen. I do not come from privilege. I come from Puerto Rico, and sometimes all we could afford was rice and ketchup. We lived very poor, and me and my fiance have gone through a lot. Including one of the hurricanes that depleted us of our income, we where left with NOTHING. What did we do? We survived, got second jobs, worked our asses off. We where fighting for 5 years to try and get out of Puerto Rico because things just kept getting worse over there and it just wasn’t somewhere that was beneficial to us. I saved up 2,500 to come to NY, got a job and supported myself for 7 months. Sometimes I barely had any money to eat, but luckily there are churches who hold pantries and they give you food for free. What have I learned from all of this? That if you really want something, you CAN attain it. But you have to fight for it. Does it mean you need privilege, or a lot of money to do it? No, you need the fight in you, THAT is what you need more then anything. I am not saying get out there, quit your job and be irresponsible, I am saying fight for it. Work for it! Stop assuming about people. You don’t really know their story, what they have been through to attain their dream, and stop assuming that we are all condescending and stupid. Some of us just want that lifestyle more and that is why we are doing what we are doing and succeeding. While you are writing and generalizing about people you clearly don’;t know about, I am seeing the world with new eyes, I am meeting new people, I am maturing, I am growing, I am learning about peoples kindness, I am LIVING. I don’t think that people who decide not to travel because of their responsibilities are less intelligent or mature, I just think that it is something they simply do not want, and that is ok. They are living THEIR life the way they want, and in a way, THAT is their adventure.

  • Waleed M. ElFarrs

    sorry to say that, but this a worthless-to-read-article, first of all closing the idea on a person is a really reveals a narrow perspective, I totally understand your point of view because I’ve been there once before, however its desperately negative.
    second of all, lets shift the discussion to the Idea of travelling, not persons, however you chose who you want to follow, this girl might be an inspiration to others from a way you cant see.
    Are you simply inviting readers to be born to work,save and pay bills then die!!? to be secured.!?
    being secured is a state of mind, you can work day and night and then suffer a disability or though, regardless life is not meant to be lived this way.
    what is the idea about not travelling!!? I myself traveled and have learned way a lot. i am not
    hanging up your problems on your social status level, poverty or anything reveals a weakness personality.
    I didnt rally continue your article, I am not rich and Iv’e never ran after money, Happiness, helping people and leave my print on this earth before supposed to be your targets.
    finally, poverty or harsh life does not kill dreams, it impost it, hard times gave me the best of what i would wish for.
    this is how i see it, sorry for harshly criticizing but I really see a lack of perceptive resembled within an article.
    and I dont wanna this negativity to be spread.

  • Why is it always the “privileged” people that have to go on and on complaining about other “privileged” people. Yes, it’s true, people living in poverty are more than likely not going to be able to immediately get up and start traveling, so what?

    That’s not their market. It’s pretty obvious that they are speaking to people within a similar situation as they are in. There is nothing wrong with that. Does she also get upset when there is a person who buys a rolls royce and writes a review saying “it was worth every penny.” To them it was. If you don’t get it then it’s not made for you so move on. Despite what some people may have you believe there are people with differences in height, ethnicity, intelligence, income, etc that live on this planet.

    I think this lady just wants to shut anyone up that exposing her own insecurities from being “privileged.”

  • Eric Nagy
  • The Werewolf

    *sigh* You know – you don’t have to be wealthy and privileged to give bad advice to people. Sorry – but those two words are rapidly becoming the bumper sticker catch phrase of the year. I know lots of not that well off people who also suggest this.

    In fact, when my father passed away leaving me a tidy sum – several of my friends popped and asked what I’m going to do with it. I replied without a pause: put it all into my retirement funds. They were dismayed and suggested I go on a world trip or buy a house. I rejected their advice because my parents taught me how to manage my money and to plan for the future.

    “See – not privileged”.. well, not then. But by the time my parents passed away, they’d accumulated a rather sizable nest egg, as have I on my own. I guess by definition, being relatively affluent, white and male, I’m privileged.

    But I’m not stupid and I wouldn’t give anyone that advice. I would encourage people to travel. But first plan for the future. Retirement comes faster than you expect (and often later than you want… 🙂 but it doesn’t happen by magic. It’s ok to spend money on something like a trip, but a few hours of planning can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars and doesn’t require a lot of hardships.

    When I travel, I take very little luggage with me – usually a small shoulder bag for carryon (no – I’m not the guy who tries to get on the plane with the largest possible luggage and shoulder bag). I rarely take more than 10 days off – so I bring five days of clothes and plan for a laundry stop. Seems like a waste of the trip, right? Nope. While your clothes are washing and drying, hit the local cafes (cheaper because they’re not big name and they cater to locals so they’re far more real) or wander through the locals stores.. or heck just walk through the neighbourhood and see what the real world away from the tourist traps is like.

    I buy food at the local groceries and have it in my room at the end of the night – saving the big ‘in restaurant’ experiences for one big night out. Sounds cheap? I’ve tried more kinds of cheeses this way – more kinds of local breads – amazing soft drinks (and not so soft) – and I’m eating like a native. If you’re travelling to lie on a beach away from the real world – well, why not just go to a sun tan booth and stay home? The fun is meeting people and seeing how other people live. I even go to movies abroad because it’s not OUR movies (or if it is – it’s not with the same people I would normally see them with).

    And that’s my ‘wealthy’ and privileged suggestion – do travel if you can afford it – and experience a new place the way a native would. It’s cheaper and actually a lot of fun.

  • Tom

    One of the best articles I’ve read on the Internet. Nowadays, travel seems to be the biggest fad, people just aren’t content being at home. And like you said, unless you’re rich, “not worrying about money and traveling”, is NOT good life advice, your 20s is the time to start investing in stocks and filling up a savings account, taking advantage of the power of compound interest, building a big retirement.

    Which do you think is worse?

    Being 70 years old and have been a saver all your life and regretting not seeing the Himalayan mountains(there are pictures of them all over the Internet).

    Or being 70 years old and having no money, your health going downhill, and still having to go be a granny at Grandes fast food or a Walmart door greeter? Because you don’t have any savings or investment income coming in. But you got to see the Himalayas.(not that it did you any good).

    • Carol Topalian

      nah, false extremes. I travelled and lived in the Rockies in my 20s, overseas work and travel in Hong Kong in my 30s, re-established in Canada and in lifetime career in my 30s and 40s (with a few university degrees along the way). I just got back from the Patagonia mountains in the spring; it was the first trip out of N. America in years, but I do take them now and then, once I’ve saved up. I often take cheap vacations – camping/hiking close to home now. The only sacrifice of all this adventure (paid for by my working, not by parents) was being late to the party of owning a place. As a result I own a condo instead of a detached house. That is the ONLY sacrifice. Your analogy doesn’t work if a person is bright, healthy, capable and ambitious. The world is a big place, and it’s a lifeskill to become excellent at traversing cultures, economies, times and ways of thinking. I will have no regrets when I die.

      • Bishop

        Ah, you are as ignorant as a first world person can be.
        You forget that in most counties people have no money for one ticket to Hong Kong, or one ticket to Canada. Their monthly salaries are 10% of one flight ticket, ma’am 🙂
        You behave exactly as a subject girl in this article.

    • Jessalyn Mastrianni Lord

      No one is saying retirement investments are not important. Most of the articles recommending travel say don’t buy a new TV, go on a trip instead. They don’t say forget paying your bills or saving. This article is creating a false dichotomy.

  • Phil K

    It’s a matter of probabilities. There is no such thing as perfect security, financial or otherwise.

    The more you save, the lower the probability that you will be “out in the streets”. But that probability will never be zero. Rationally, it is always stupid to spend money on indulgences, be it travel or eating out. But life is not about surviving alone. Life is not about *minimizing* the probability of destitution, it’s about balancing that probability with your other goals, and bringing it to a level you are comfortable with. Different people have very different levels of risk aversion. In my experience, these differences come more from personality than from privilege. Anyhow, I respect their choices because there is no objectively right answer for what is a tolerable amount of risk.

    Then there is also the fact that travel can sometimes be financially beneficial, especially if you work from home live in a high rent area.

    PS. This article makes some good points but could have been written in a less bitter tone.

  • Stuart Aitken

    Meh. You can hit financial ruin at any point. Personally I’ve never earned more than about £18k in a year, which is tiny in the UK, yet I’ve travelled pretty extensively compared to the majority of people. Though I do understand the points the author is making about wealthy people claiming their biggest achievement is essentially a long, adventurous holiday. But the truth is, anyone from the ‘richer’ side of the world can afford travel and adventure, as long as they aren’t burdened with the responsibility of kids, a home or other financial choices that they alone chose (the only other burden would be if they needed to care for an elder family member or something, but this isn’t the case for the majority of people). So, even if you’re at the bottom of the social scale, if you’re from a richer country you can afford to travel. It’s about personal decisions and spending choices. The guilt is for us all to hold. I feel guilty that I, although most certainly far, far poorer than a lot of people in my country, am able to travel much more than the poor people in economically weaker countries. I can’t criticise the rich in my country simply for choosing to spend their money on travelling, because I’ve done the same thing anyway. The only criticism is towards overall global inequality allowing people from rich countries to travel in poor countries. And that is a huge issue that isn’t gonna be solved over night!

    • Bishop

      The thing is, the absolute amount of money matters the same as the relative value.
      Your salary is “tiny” for the UK, but it is absolutely huge for Moldova or Rwanda or Bangladesh.

      Outside your country you end up with an amount of money which matters in the world. In other countries, their monthly salaries are smaller than a kid’s daily pocket money in UK.

      So, a salary “tiny in UK” technically will get you much, much farther than “okay in Tajikistan” or “huge in Zimbabwe”.

      • Stuart Aitken

        I do believe you didn’t read beyond the first few lines of my comment.

        • Bishop

          I did, and what I wrote was to supplement your opinion, not to counter it. Sorry if I sounded the other way.

          I re-read my post and I see that I indeed expressed my thoughts horribly, giving you a cause to think so 🙂

    • Uma

      This comment assumes that abject poverty isn’t a thing in rich countries.

  • W Wilson

    I disagree with the assumption that only the rich can travel. Many countries offer working visas these days where you can land with next to nothing and do amazing jobs and earn your way around the world. I left the UK for 5 years with £300 in pocket and a one way flight to Australia. I worked on farms, ranches, barrier reef islands, New Zealand government – and saved more money than I could make in the UK. And no I don’t have a good education that gets me the best jobs. I’m a working class traveller who never really has more than £1000 ever. And no family safety net. The world is small now and its not hard to save 1 month pay check, get a visa, and go work and travel for years. Best decision of my life was getting on that plane during the recession. No difference coming back to security except benefits if needed. Go travel – It’s easier than you think. Even Canada and Japan offer these visas. Often these places are a lot closer to other countries / islands that don’t offer work visas so its still twice as easy to see more of the world. 🙂 Enjoy your trip 🙂

  • dan ga

    This article does make sense, however you are missing one important thing : You are confusing a spiritual journey with tourism. Travelling just for the sake of travelling or having new experiences is no different from tourism. It’s really now wonder that someone who saves up thousands of dollars to travel SE Asia, staying in hotels, sightseeing, drinking beer, partying etc won’t grow much. It will be no different from making holidays.

    There are some people however who go to SE Asia to stay and volunteer at an Ashram or monastery for a longer period of time in order to really change themselves. In this case you don’t really need much money.

    It’s a shame that in the west when you tell people that you are going to go practice renounciation at a monastery for an extended period of time they take it negativily. In SE Asia on the opposite this is considered a good thing, as it should be. Unfortunately, people in the west often seem to misunderstand.

  • bradhines

    I disagree strongly with this article namely because of geoarbitrage, digital nomadship, the countless “travelhacks” for saving substantially on traveling, and lastly, the marked tangible increase in earning power from traveling (i.e. entrepreneurs who cite various business ideas and connections they concluded only from going somewhere. Don’t wait to go travel, figure out how to do it financially and do it. The two concepts go hand and hand.

  • Daniel Reyes

    Excellent. For some of us, there is no option. I came from south america here to the states. I am the only one son. Dad died 5 years ago. Me, Always working in my degree, paying bills, saving money, helping mom, she is getting sick as she ages. Sending money back to the south… And I keep worrying and worrying and worrying. Save for these, pay for that, taxes, etc. Repeat. The last time I bought a pair of shoes that cost over 50 dollars, was over 12 years ago.. Luckily, life has showed me that I can not afford a girlfriend, get married, or have kids! God help me. Only a girl that might want to join my battle would suffice. But as we all know, those girls are non-existent nowadays. 99% feel the entitlement to travel the world and bla bla just for being female. I find comfort from not having to worry about a family. And my prayers go to all of those who have that massive responsibility. Some of us, we just cannot travel. I live in FL, and would like to go to Disney one day to visit mickey mouse. Meanwhile, google maps is my friend…Have a good day.

  • the_unraveller

    No failure is ever final nor is any success. Through it all, character endures.

  • cfginger

    Wonderful article! I agree with you !

  • Neus Torres

    I totally agree with you. I’ve read your article and the reviews and I think that they didn’t exactly get your point. It’s obvious than travelling or just meeting people from other parts of the world is a very good experience, but it requires MONEY. And before the other reviewers charge on me, let me explain my point a bit better.

    The author talked about bragging friends, but there are also motivational blogs and most importantly, career advice that all they say is “go travel”. It’s like you are a failure as a millennial if you haven’t travelled, and that is totally nonsense, but it’s hard to see it because absolutely everyone says it. “International experience” is a must and a very important point to differentiate yourself from your competitor. But, to me, that view is snob and obtuse.

    It’s true that you don’t need to be extra rich to travel and that many times it’s more of a a choice to make between financial stability & travelling. However, this is only possible when you’re no longer a full-time student and have been able to get a job and save money for it beforehand But for me, who comes from a working family that couldn’t afford to travel on holiday, have a second residence, etc. it’s extremely frustrating to hear that advice. It’s only now that I have been able to get summer jobs and save a little money.

    I have many friends that have been all around the world and I admit that I envy them, but I can’t resent them because I love them and I know that each of us cannot help where they are born. However, the thing I do resent is that many young people and “career advisors” aren’t aware of the privilege that represents.

    I only wish people thought twice before saying things like “you should travel more” or relating the wonders of “taking a gap year” travelling Europe (not working or volunteering) before university. This one is specially outrageous. Who can afford that? Even doing an Interrail costs 1000 € minimum (and that is travelling with a backpack). Only middle- and upper-class people. And I’m sorry to say, not everyone is that, though the majority of university students (particularly good universities in USA and UK) all seem to come from there.

  • Hanz Meyer

    Its people like u that make my drive further and further away from society.

  • marksman

    I somewhat agree with your statements, but what is an utter shame to me is the fact that you will be forced to spend your life working like a dog to make the wealthy wealthier just to put food on your table, live on a depressing home, drive a hideous car and on top of that, feeling you must trick yourself to feel lucky for that. When some people earns in a day what others in a year, something just doesn’t work.

  • Daphne

    Wow – reading this article for the first time two years after publication, and seeing what comments are the most highly rated? Textbook irony. Some people really got defensive, which is common in discussion of privilege. It seems like a lot of people conflated wealthy with privileged, determined that because they’re not the former, then they’re also not the latter, and took umbrage. Americans in particular come of age with the “bootstraps” mantra, and I see it prominently through the “highly-rated” comments (I’m an American).

    In any case, great article, and a perspective I don’t see expressed very often online.

  • Karina Quintana

    I can not thank you enogh for this post. You took away a big rock from my shoulders. THANKS!!!

  • Karina Quintana

    English is not my first language, sorry for the mistakes.

  • V Lakshmi

    Nice article before that I suggest people read an interesting post on how you can deal with a travel life with less money check out http://www.publicdebate.in/deal-someone-travel-focused-life/.

    I agree with the fact that travelling is meant for rich people. Well, how about those who love travelling atleast twice a year. Infact travelling as its own essence of feelings attached so why compromise

  • dchunka1188

    What they call “privilege” is what they used to call “fortunate”