Priority Management: Travel, Work, and Money

Do your job or finances stand between you and your wishes to travel the world?

It doesn’t matter if you have visited foreign countries before or not; world travel is in the face of us all everyday. We are all on Facebook, seeing the statuses of our friends who are in some exotic location posting photos that you’d almost rather not look at. Or perhaps you have friends who are planning their honeymoons or yearly trips abroad, or whatever it may be. Travel is present in our lives whether we take part in it or not, and I have a feeling that if you’re reading this, you are one who would like to take part.


railay beach thailand
Just what you want to see while you’re “stuck” at work, right?
For many, there seems to be this minor detail we call “work” that may be the biggest obstacle that stands between you and traveling the world. The other obstacle is money, as for some it is seemingly impossible to save. When I talk to people who wish they could travel more, the biggest reasons why they can’t are their jobs and their finances. So what can be done about these two rather large obstacles? I truly believe there is a somewhat simple, straight-forward answer to this question, and it lies in your priority management.

Are your priorities in the right order?

I’m not going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t spend your money on, or that you should quit your job right now and buy a plane ticket. That is not for me to say, and those decisions must be made responsibly in all of our lives. What I do know, and the biggest thing I’ve noticed when talking with most people who wish they could travel more, is that our lives reflect our priorities. Priorities can change as often as life throws changes at us, but it is how we handle them that determines our lifestyles.

“…our lives reflect our priorities…”

I touched on this a bit in a blog post about how to afford world travel, but I’m going to elaborate a little more in hopes that it will at least encourage you to think about your priorities. The best way I can share this with you is by using my own experience, so I’m going to show you what my work and money priorities look like, because maintaining control of both of these obstacles is what allows me to keep travel as a high priority in my life (and actually follow through with it).

How I prioritize travel and get over the obstacles of work and money

Ever since I first studied abroad in Costa Rica at age 18, I have always had my next international trip formulating in my mind until it becomes a plan and I eventually get on a plane. This is something I simply must do, and it means two things: one, I need to make enough money to make that trip happen; and two, I need to have a job that I can easily leave to make that trip happen. This is my lifestyle and philosophy when it comes to money and work. Travel is obviously a very high priority for me. I simply find ways to make it happen because I want it badly enough.

WORK

  • I have never had a job that I felt prevented me from sticking to my travel plans. I would never take a job that prevented me from traveling. If a company wants too much from me and won’t allow me the time off that I need, truly need every year to feel like I am living my life the way I need to, then that company isn’t worth my time. There are other jobs.
  • I was “lucky” enough to work in seasonal positions for many years, allowing me to come and go conveniently. The service industry (serving in restaurants) was great for this because no one cares when you leave and there are plenty of people to fill your position. I couldn’t handle the service industry forever, so I am now self-employed. Working for myself is both terrifying and liberating, but most of all it allows me to have complete control over my schedule.
  • I tried having a permanent position (working for someone else) once. It lasted for one year and simply didn’t suit me. If work was my highest priority or if I was passionate about that job, I may have thought differently. That just wasn’t the case, so I left that job because it didn’t reflect my priorities.

MONEY

  • If the amount of money I need for something is not in my bank account, I can’t afford it. Period.
  • Monthly payments take away from our travel fund. We keep them to a minimum.
  • Yes, we use credit cards but we pay them off every month. I have never taken out a loan, nor am I in debt. Without this weight on my shoulders, I am free to save money for traveling. If you are in debt, make it your number one priority to get out, as quickly as possible (that probably goes without saying).
  • I have a ’94 Toyota Pickup that is completely paid off. PicturePictureMy husband has a ’97 Subaru that is completely paid off. We love our old cars, especially because together we have $0/month in car payments (and Toyotas and Subarus last a long time!). If and when the time comes to buy a “new” car, we will purchase a used car in full in order to avoid a monthly payment. New cars are completely overrated.
  • There are so many ways we save money: buying a six pack of beer at the store instead of going downtown for one drink at the same price; participating in clothing swaps (super fun by the way) instead of going shopping for myself when I don’t really need new clothes; inviting friends over for a BBQ instead of going out for dinner; thinking twice before purchasing things. We deem a lot of things “unnecessary spending” and decide to save instead of spend. The amount we save in a year just by thinking about our spending is probably enough to buy a plane ticket to Europe.
  • If we are on a tight budget and planning a trip (like we are currently), prioritizing money is a mind game. Would I rather go out to dinner with my husband tonight or in six weeks when we’re in Europe? To the grocery store we go to cook dinner at home… 

Do you really want to travel?

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The decisions you make about your job and your finances should reflect your priorities. What is most important to you? How bad do you want to take that trip you have only dreamed about?

How are your priorities preventing you from seeing the world? If you want to travel the world, you will. Period. If you want it badly enough, you will find a way. That goes for anything in life. Your travel priority will make its way up your list until it is close enough to reach the top, and you can actually start to plan a trip. Once you do it the first time, it is much easier to do it a second, third, and many more times. If it turns out that you really enjoy traveling like I do, it is likely that it will remain close to the top of your priority list, and you will simply find ways to get over the obstacles and make it happen.

“If you want it badly enough, you will find a way.”