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Let's talk business: How do I afford to travel?

The most pressing question other people have when they see me traveling alone or get to know that I have been traveling since more than one and half years now is: How can you afford this?

Let me tell you why this question is the one that people want to have answered right away: It is their excuse of why they can’t live their dreams and why they can’t have this amazing trip I’m having.

You may be even one of those people and please, don’t feel offended right away. Just keep on reading and be open to what I have to say.

In the beginning of my trip I would tell people that I have saved up money, which was partly true but then I got tired of the questions that would be resulting from it because they would need to know what my profession was and so on, to find more excuses for themselves, why they couldn’t be doing it and make silly comparisons.

Today I’m just relieving them from the dazzled question marks in their faces and tell them straight away: My father died a few years ago and has left me some money. That satisfies them all and I don’t need to be answering any other curious questions that are way too personal when you are actually just chit chatting.

Now you know it as well: I got money at my disposal that resulted from death. However, if you would be very honest with yourself, you would come to realize that even if you had that money, you wouldn’t have just sold all of your stuff and left without any strings attached because the money would had been better invested into your retirement and serve you as a security net.

German society is one of the most security needy I have come across and grew up in and it’s incredibly hard to get rid of this limited perception of how life should be lived. By now even part of my family has stopped supporting my trip because I have been gone for too long and I just turned thirty.

I’m not fitting into any stereotype or paradigm anymore with how I’m living my life now and that is very hard for people to accept. It even disturbs them. Especially here in Australia I get to feel those conservative ideas and perceptions of how life should be lived because people literally look at me weird, even staring at me for traveling alone as a woman.

That’s because the way I’m living my life automatically makes people question their own lives. Especially other traveling couples, my age or a bit younger, have seemed to be very confused seeing me traveling alone. One night I heard a girl with a bitter tone in her voice saying to her partner: ’It’s also way more expensive to travel by yourself!’. They didn’t even great me. Potentially saw me as a threat to their relationship.

This is the second issue: jealousy. I have lost friendships because of jealousy. Surely, I’m fortunate to have this money but to get where I am today was a long and hard way and it is still not easy. People seem to forget about empathy over their own issues with life, fear and insecurities of the self.

So that source of money that I have is not endless. In fact, currently, I am traveling with borrowed money from a friend to complete this grand final (to drive down the West coast of Australia) to complete my initial dream that keeps on evolving of course and I don’t know what will be next but I learned to embrace uncertainty in which we are all living.

You may believe that your life is certain because of that job, the house, the kids, the boyfriend/girlfriend and many other things but as soon as you experience death, you will know that nothing is ever certain. You are living in an illusion of certainty which just seems to be more obvious when living a more irregular lifestyle like I do.

Traveling has been part of my life since I’m eleven. I literally took every opportunity to go abroad that was offered in school. After high school I found a way without having any money at all and no financial support from my family to go live for a year in Indonesia, being funded by the government. I found a way to study abroad and had to apply for governmental funding in order to finance it. I had to work at a clothing store to feed myself. I have been at the bottom of everything and I know, doesn’t matter if I would be having this money or not, I would be traveling and aspire to my dreams.

So please, next time you meet someone who has achieved to travel lots, don’t give them: Oh, I wish I could do that too and then start giving them excuses of why you can’t. Often people tell me: I wish I had the time. Well, listen, nobody came to me and said: Here you go Isabelle, please, I give you time. I took that time. It’s a choice you make and a choice you have every day. If you would really want it, you could.

Read about ways to travel for free here.

Book recommendation: The Art of Uncertainty

Let me know in the comments if this was helpful for you or if you have any more questions!

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Welcome to my blog and thanks for having a browse through my tips and stories from road and backpacking trips around the world. Please, leave a comment or send me a message if you have any questions. Stay safe and happy travels! 

Yours gratefully


Places I have traveled solo:

Alaska, Canada, USA, Mexiko, Chile, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Rumania, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Crete, Istanbul, Israel, Sinai, Nepal, Indonesia, Australia


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© 2020 by Isabelle Popiehn

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