As a former minimalist, I’ve got some background and understanding in the power of simplicity. In fact, living simply opens up many doors. One can benefit financially from living simply. Relationships can be improved. And one of my favorites, simplicity can lead to more experiences.
2020 Has Been My Biggest Travel Year
Well, I might have traveled more in my 20s when I took trains all around the country, but I’ve made 2020 a big travel year. And guess what? I never could have had this kind of travel freedom if I didn’t make a point to live simply.
Not only have I been traveling more this year, but I’ve been doing it without creating a drop of debt. In fact, I’m still saving money.
It all goes back to my decision to sell my house last summer. In July, 2019, I sold my house, paid off all of my bills, and stuffed a good chunk of money into the bank. Since then, my cash flow has increased tremendously. Add the fact that I don’t buy much material crap, and that gives me extra money for travel experiences.
2020 and COVID-19 have also given me the ability to travel during times that I’d usually be tied up with work. Here are main our trips this year:
- January 2020: A drive down to San Francisco and back up Highway 101 on the California Coast.
- July 2020: A long road trip that included stops in Missouri, Memphis, New Orleans, South Dakota, and much more.
- August 2020: A week stay on the Oregon Coast
- October 2020: A scheduled trip to New England to show my daughter my family history and see the fall colors.
- A bunch of shorter trips around Washington and Oregon.
Why Travel Now, During a Pandemic?
Why not? Although traveling can put one more at risk for getting the coronavirus, we can be safe. When Annie and I took our long road trip in July, we rarely encountered other people, and when we did, we masked up. The worst place on the whole trip was South Dakota. Mt. Rushmore was overcrowded, and 75% of visitors didn’t wear masks. I was glad to make that a short visit.
But the reason I’m willing to take a small risk and travel during COVID-19 is simple. I’m living life for the present. Shit, I’ve already been diagnosed with blood cancer. My gallbladder hates me. My knees and feet hurt worse than ever before. If I don’t travel now, then when? After I’m crippled? Or dead?
I think it’s important that I spend as much time with my daughter as possible. Teenagers aren’t very excited to hang out with dad. But when we travel, it’s just the two of us, and we both have fun. She’ll remember these trips for the rest of her life.
Traveling is a very “living in the present” kind of activity. Unfortunately, life dictates that I keep schedules and destinations. When I retire, I hope to travel more spontaneously, and with less definitive plans.
How You Can Travel More in 2020/2021
If you like the idea of traveling more, there are a couple of steps you can take to make it a greater possibility.
- Don’t be afraid: I know a lot of people who don’t like to travel. When I ask them why I usually discover underlying fears. Some are afraid of flying. Some are afraid of big cities and potential violence. Others are just afraid of change. Don’t be afraid. In all my travels, I have had very few negative or scary experiences. I have, however, had a shitload of fun.
- Pay down debt: I’m willing to create a little debt to travel. I’m not recommending you max out your credit cards and do a world tour. But if you know you can pay off the debt shortly after a trip, it’s worth every penny in interest. That said, the better option is to get rid of debt. No debt means more cashflow. More cashflow means more money for traveling.
- Buy less stuff: How do you reduce debt? Stop buying shit you don’t need. I’m not a monk living in a tiny house, but I’m very intentional about what and how much stuff I buy. That leads to less debt and more travel.
- Plan the trip: If you’re spontaneous, you can just pack a bag, throw it in the car, and take off. But if you really want to be sure you follow through with your travel plans, book a trip in advance. This locks you in as you might forfeit some cash if you bail. I’ve rarely cancelled a pre-planned trip, and only for an emergency.
What Are You Waiting For?
If you’re getting older like me, you won’t live forever. Heck, even if you’re young, life is uncertain. I encourage you to travel. You’ll gain real-world experiences. You’ll have fun. And you’ll be living for the present.
Hopefully, all will go well for our October New England trip. I’ll share some pictures on my Facebook page.