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As I mentioned in part 1 of this post series, when you want to achieve a certain thing in life or want something so much that it aches, it all boils down to one thing:
Setting your priorities.
In this part of the blog series I want to let you in on how I personally “do the traveling thing”. Financially, health- and jobwise. What “making traveling my priority” actually looks like.
Of course I cannot go way in depth on all the aspects of how to travel in one blog post, so I will tell you here in general how I fit traveling into my life and in further articles get into specific advice on how to travel more/ cheaper/ more efficiently. So, let’s get to it.
There are many things that might keep one from traveling, as I already mentioned in the previous post. For me personally though these three things make up the biggest “difficulties” or obstacles to overcome.
So, what do I do?
Right at this moment I am working part-time in a coworking space** in my home town of Düsseldorf. This makes up the largest part of my income right now.
I am also self-employed, since about half a year ago. I mostly produce videos, edit film material and also take photographs. That is my number one passion after traveling itself. Due to an apprenticeship I did a few years ago I am also officially a seamstress, so I still do a bit of work in that area aswell. My heart-project is what you’re reading right now- my blog. A shit load of different things, right? Well, that’s what I love, I guess, doing different things and thus keeping things interesting.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts my goal is to work self-dependently full time. Not just that, I want to be able to work from anywhere, using mainly the internet, my laptop (and my camera) to do my work. As a digital nomad. Or at least as a part-time digital nomad, doing a few jobs from certain places and others location-independently. My wish and goal is to have the freedom of chosing when to work and from where.
So, I am on the way to a certain lifestyle I imagine for myself and working hard as hell to get there.
How I travel right now
During my studies a few years back I had longer periods of time where I was able to travel for months at a time- time I used to do backpacking trips around Europe. Those trips are what made me realize that I wasn’t going to do things the traditional way, but find a solution which combined my love for travel with work that I love. And finding a way to do that has been my goal ever since.
What I do at the moment, due to the little time off I have from my work at the coworking space and while building my business, is use as much off-time I have to travel. Which in this case means: Not traveling to far off places much, but sometimes just taking a few hours on a Sunday to drive to a national park or lake nearby to wind down from day-to-day life. Or using long weekends to head off to Berlin or France or Holland. It doesn’t cost much and really helps to ease those itchy feet, while I can’t yet be on the road full-time yet.
In case you haven’t read in any of my other articles yet, I have a lung disease called cystic fibrosis**. And in case you don’t know what it is, here’s a short explanation: Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects mostly the lungs, but also many other organs. Due to a faulty gene people with CF have breathing problems, more frequent lung infections, and some other symptoms.
What that means for people with CF?
We need to take loads of medication (Antibiotics, enzymes, inhalants, vitamins, and IV-Antibiotic treatments every few months) and do physiotherapy and breathing exercises regularly. We have more problems breathing due to a lower lung function (mine for example is at about 50% of a person without CF), our health can change for the worse real quickly when catching a bad cold and depending on the condition a person with CF can also be in need of oxygen. This all then of course effects the life spand of a CF-patient, which at the moment lays at an average of 35 to 40 years.
Yeah it’s a shitty disease and it isn’t curable as of yet, but we are extremely lucky to live in an age where we do have all that medicine, physiotherapy and other health treatments available to us.
How I cope with the disease?
Thanks to my parents I always had a very positive way of looking at my disease and a positive outlook on life, in general. Without it I’m sure I’d be a very different person. I might never have started traveling and for sure wouldn’t live life the way I do now- head on, trying to live every day to the fullest. My disease has actually made me stronger, more resistent, I guess.
Combining travel and CF
At first I was really sceptical on how to travel with all the medication I have to take and lung exercises I have to do. I remember my mom being worried sick that my health would go way downhill. But, as with most things, it’s all not as bad as it might seem from afar. It can be a bit tricky– especially when it comes to being in countries where the hygienic standard isn’t as high as we’re used to, having to keep certain medicines cool, getting through customs with a shitload of pills in your backpack or doing your breathing exercises and inhalants in a hostel room with 9 other travelers (that was really weird at first, but once people know what’s going on, it becomes the most normal thing on earth).
No, it’s not easy and it might seem scary at first, but it is possible and well worth it!
More on all these things soon in another post about traveling with a chronic illness.
So, how can I afford to travel a lot? As I said in the first part of this post: It’s all a matter of setting your priorities. I now live in a shared apartment with a friend of mine, because I earn a bit more than I used to, but before that I lived with my parents for 2 years, lived off of 450 € a month and still had enough money to put away to the side for my next trip. Before that I lived on my own on 750 € a month and also then was able to set money aside for traveling. Again, it’s not easy, but it’s possible.
It’s a question of: What do I really want to spend my money on? Is it the new dress, the new shoes, the new lipstick? I then always think to myself: Hey, that’s 15 bucks for a t-shirt- 15 bucks I could spend on a night in a hostel in Budapest. Or 40 € for those shoes will buy me a Ryanair-flight to Portugal. And if I could chose spending money on a material thing versus spending money on an experience, a new memory, a great moment– well, hell, what do I need the damn shoes for?
When buying new things we need to ask ourselves more often: Is it really necessary? Do we need it? Is it going to really improve our lives in any way? This of course doesn’t mean that I never buy myself a new t-shirt or a record or a new book: you just can’t expect to constantly be able to buy these things and then wonder why you don’t have the money to travel.
The other thing is that to travel you don’t actually need that much money. The trick is to try and travel less as a tourist and more as a local, avoiding the typical touristy activities, fancy hotels and especially entire hotel zones and dinners out. But instead cooking your own meals, staying in hostels, Airbnb apartments or camping spots, couchsurfing (a great way to meet the locals!), traveling by bus, train or- if you’re a bit more adventurous- hichhiking. Those are all things I kept to when I was on my backpacking trips and thus spent usually around 30 € per day in European countries (If you go to Asia or Latin America of course it gets cheaper.)
More on that in one of my next posts where I will let you in on how to travel on a budget or completely for free.
I hope I was able to give a general idea of how I fit traveling into my life and kind of get what I mean when I say that I make traveling my priority. It’s the same with anything else in life- if something is important to you: Make it happen, because you’re the only one who can!