Growth as a Traveler: How You Can Avoid My Mistakes

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Growth as a Traveler: How You Can Avoid My Mistakes

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There are 2 things you need to know about me. The first thing is I was not born in the United States. I was born in Vietnam. Both my parents are Chinese. We immigrated over here in the late 70s when I was a toddler to escape communism. We were part of the boat people who escaped our home country and landed in Indonesia before we were allowed to come into the US because my uncle sponsored us. We eventually became naturalized US citizens when I was in 6th grade.

My parents did a good job providing for my sister and me. Unfortunately, one of the things I didn’t get to do while growing up was travel. We did not go anywhere like the National Parks or even camping. The only places we went to were for the purpose of visiting family in San Francisco, San Diego, or Arizona. That was it.

This leads me to the second thing you should know about me: I’ve never traveled outside of the US / Canada ever since I immigrated here. I am a year from turning 40 years old, and I haven’t left US or Canada. I know it’s hard to believe considering that I will be crossing 10 European countries in less than 1 month. Am I nervous? Hell yes! Am I excited? Another hell yes! I am embracing the opportunity, and I can’t wait to explore the cultures and languages that these countries have waiting for me. It’s going to be like Disneyland, right? Happy people speaking all sorts of languages?

Now that I got that off my chest, I want to see if I can share what I learned, so that you don’t make the same mistake and not prioritize travel. Let’s look at the common excuses people give, or even the excuses I came up with before.

Time Travel

Photo Credit: Lee-yoshi via Compfight cc

I Don’t Have Time To Travel

So you’re saying that you don’t have time to travel, that work, also known as the J-O-B, gets in the way. I have lived that life. I used to collect vacation hours. We are allowed to cash in our hours at the end of our employment, and the strategy that I used to adhere to was to accumulate as much as I could until they force me to use them. This way, I would have a lump sum of money when I leave the company.


I get it, you’re starting out, you need the money. Trading your time for money is simply a bad idea. Time is actually much more valuable than any amount of money that you are currently getting from work. I’ve collected on my vacation hours before, and it is rewarding to have this lump sum on hand. What I ended up doing was spend it on something that I thought I needed only to have that object become obsolete in a few years.

If I were you, I would prioritize your time for life experiences. It will be those times that you will remember the most and not the latest gadget or the trendiest clothes. We need to stop thinking that the person who has the most toys is winning the game. It is really about the memories we share with other people and the places that move and inspire us. Traveling will do just that, whether you’re doing this on a bike or just on your two feet. Get out there and find the time to travel.

Travel Glasses

Photo Credit: Tjflex2 via Compfight cc

I Can Travel When I Retire

Before I embarked on my full-time passion in bicycle touring, I told myself that I can travel after I retire. When will that be? I was making good money, but with more money, came more expenses and more expectations until I told myself enough is enough. The typical retirement age has been creeping higher and higher in this country as people don’t have enough saved up to travel when they retire. As a result, they are delaying their retirement. Sometimes, even past the age of 70! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to retire at 70. I’d like to be retired way before then.

I truly hope that you remain healthy when you retire. I mean exercising consistently, eating healthy, and being vigilant about seeing your doctors will only help, but if you’re like most Americans, you may not be in the most optimal shape when you’re ready to ride off into the sunset. Unfortunately, there are 2 out of 3 adults who are overweight or obese in this country. This results in higher chances of getting type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, or high blood pressure. The odds are stacked against you if you want to live a longer and healthy life. It’s going to be challenging to travel if that’s the case.

That’s why you have to do more traveling well before you retire, before it’s too late or too uncomfortable, or even impossible. I sure don’t want to wait until that happens.

My favorite store...
My favorite store… by Gloria, on Flickr

It’s Expensive to Travel

This was a myth I use to believe in my professional career. I always thought traveling outside of the country was significantly more than traveling within the US. That was why I didn’t even bother to shop around for possible international travel opportunities. Instead, I opted to go anywhere close by or driveable. The problem with that strategy is that I’ve gone to practically everywhere near my city, and now, even by bicycle. I’m running out of places to travel to, and the only places left now are out of the country.

The old belief of traveling abroad being expensive is simply untrue. There are travel bloggers who have proven that you can travel to any part of the world with any budget. You can even indulge at places like Southeast Asia, and you would spend as much as you would while traveling in the US. Don’t believe me? Google, “travel blogger” and start reading about how these people are doing it and doing it cheaply.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, if it wasn’t for Harry dragging me along across Europe, I would not be going anywhere outside of the country until after I have done my cross-country bike tour (still happening in 2017). To be at the cusp of doing something so epic and so crazy, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful for this opportunity and that I finally made traveling a priority in my life. I’m not letting any excuse get in the way this time. I’ve sold my house, downsized on my possessions,and quit my job just so that I can do awesome things like this. I’ll see how it turns out. See you all on the other side after the 3 months to report if it is worth the sacrifice. I am betting that it is going to be a HELL YES!

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