Why Traveling the World is Not as Unrealistic as it Seems

by Alexander Heyne · 12 comments

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

-G.K. Chesterton

World Travel is Not as Far Away as You Think


Just about every time I hang out with someone my age (and often older),  I hear the statement: “I want to travel the world.”  That goes equally for people who have a career and a specific dream, as well as those who don’t have one particular aspiration.

I want to make you realize that travel, world travel, globe trotting, whatever you want to call it, is not as hard as people make it out to be.

First, One Note of Caution

If there’s a single lesson I’ve learned traveling, and I’ve traveled a good amount for someone my age, is that it’s really important to have a reason for traveling.

That may sound like heresy to some, but after a while of “just traveling” and seeing all the tourist sights and going to the beaches and drinking your coronas, and then going back to work waiting for it happen again, you’ll definitely be craving something more.

Adventure is that “more” part.  And that’s why I recommend one main, underlying purpose to your travels.

Keepin’ it Sweet and Simple

Let me give you some examples of specifics:

  • Going to canada for a survival camping expedition, tracking wolves in the snow, and listening to them howl in the evening (On my to do list! Any takers?)
  • A trip to New Zealand to bungee jump, sky dive, and enjoy any and all outdoor sports
  • Visiting China to visit a Taoist temple and learning kung-fu, old school
  • A motorcycle trip from Mexico to Brazil (on my to do list, also needs comrades)
  • Visting your family’s roots in Ireland and Scotland
  • A volcano tour of Iceland

Money Holding You Back? Read More


Most people my age cite money as the number one reason they can’t travel.  Let me show you why traveling is both cheaper and more expensive than you think, but is always feasible.

Airfare: That Evil Wench

Airfare is a real bitch sometimes.  For example, just recently I bought a one-way ticket from New York to Beijing, China.  $622.  I then bought another one way ticket from Beijing back to New York.  $1200.  I wasn’t thrilled about the extra $600 I planned to have in my pocket, but here are some big suggestions that can help you save hundreds (literally).

  1. Timing.  A family friend several years back recommended buying tickets between tuesday and thursday.  Avoiding the weekend is how you’ll find better air fares between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon.
  2. Timing #2. Booking flights way in advance is what your momma always told you.  That is one good suggestion to get flights cheaper.  However, booking flights last minute can also help you find good prices.
  3. Method.  Try flying from large hubs to other large hubs, and then if you are continuing on somewhere go the classic “Easyjet” route.  Easyjet and Ryanair are big in Europe and you can usually find a flight to major european cities for under 50 dollars (usually much less).  Within China, www.qunar.com and www.elong.com are great suggestions (the former you’ll need some Chinese skills for).  The English version of elong is at www.elong.net. In south east asia/the philippines, cebu pacific air  is what you want for local flights.

Lodging: Be Realistic

If you’ve never hosteled before, be warned: They’re nothing like the movie hostel, haha.

Hostels are extremely safe, extremely cheap, way better than hotels in a lot of ways, and the best way to meet people of your mind set.

Some examples all in USD:

  • Hostels in Sydney, Australia: $15-$35
  • Hostels in Paris, France: $25-$50 (for a private room)

    Santorini Sunset

  • Hostels in London, England: $25-$50 (shared room)
  • Hostels in Beijing, China: $6 – $15 for a shared room
  • Hostels in Tokyo, Japan: $25-$50 for a shared room
  • Hostels in Phuket, Thailand: Starting at $5
  • Hostels in Santorini, Greece: A villa guesthouse for 2 people? Something out of a hollywood movie? $46 USD (for two people)
www.hostelbookers.com. Use it, and be amazed.
Hostels provide you with: unlimited train, plane and bus booking.  Any and all excursions or tourist trips.  Usually have free internet, almost all have a bar and food area.  Most have laundry facilities, and they all have tons of young people (and increasingly, not so young people) who are interested in the exact same stuff as you.

Other Options

Couchsurfing.  www.couchsurfing.com

In a nutshell:

  • You make a profile
  • You provide information: where you want to go, and how long.  Whether or not you have a place available where someone can crash
  • You ask people in you target location if you can hang out for a few days
  • People ask you (however, you can disable the feature or just say “no couch available”) if they can come stay with you
  • You host visitors, visitors host you
  • It’s awesome – try it.
  • The Cost? Friendship.
Airbnb is similar but you rent a person’s apartment and can rent out your own.

The “No Comrades” to Travel With Excuse

One sad thing about traveling: you may not always have friends to travel with at the start.  For a while, I waited for people to travel with and realized that because of conflicting schedules or money, traveling alone is sometimes the better option.

The upside?  Even if you’re a hermit you can meet friends to go out with on Day 1; hosteling just has that vibe about it.

A Brief Lesson in Relativity: Money Goes Further, Elsewhere

Oh and one last thing, again on money.

In the US, my car (2003 Nissan Xterra) as of 2011 costs at least $75  a week to fill up.  Rent at university for my apartment was $300 / month (cheap). Food I was buying was $60 a week.

Get rid of those three expenses, and re-arrange them. (Say you decide to travel 3 months instead of staying in your college apartment over summer).

Gas for a month? Two weeks lodging in Paris. If you went to Asia that’d be two months lodging.

Rent? Sweet airfare to Iceland and back.

Food?  Gourmet meals at five-star restaurants.

Just be aware of the obvious – money gets you way further in other parts of the world.  Your daily expenses that can be trimmed down or put on “hold” can get you far elsewhere.

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

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