One of my biggest travel dilemmas is wanting everything. Yeah I want to travel as much as I possibly can but I also want to enjoy my everyday life. I don’t want to spend most of my life not going out, not having a single drink, and not treating myself to things in order to enjoy a couple of weeks or months of traveling. I want to always enjoy whatever I am living in the moment.
Of course, there are circumstances. The summer before I moved to Bordeaux I worked two jobs, saved every single penny I could, and went out twice. It was worth it because I got to France with a cushion that allowed me to survive the first few months and to get an apartment. But that was only two months of my life and I definitely wouldn’t want that to be the great bulk of my existence. In my daily life I economize on things I don’t need. My “smartphone” is my grandmother’s old blackberry (she has an iphone 5 now), I try to eat at home as much as I can, I almost always take the bus, etc etc etc. When I think about spending on something I always compare it to the plane ticket I could buy with that money instead.
So it’s not like I don’t sacrifice in order to travel, but I am not as extreme as other bloggers I read. I do eat out sometimes because I love food, I spend money on going out, and I believe that it’s good to treat yourself sometimes. Honestly, I admire bloggers whose burning passion for travel enables them to null out every other want (you guys rock!), but I’m not like that. Like I said, I want to enjoy my everyday life beyond traveling.
Anywhosville, this all comes as a prelude to a realization I have had that makes this dilemma much easier for me: You can have your cake and eat it too.
Yup, you heard me. Over the last couple of months I have been working three jobs, along with occasional freelance ones. I have, of course, been making a fair amount of money which has allowed me to save for my future travels. A story of triumph and sacrifice for sure! However, what I realized is that it doesn’t all need to be about sacrifice. Yes, I busted my ass working Monday through Saturday for long hours and dedicating my Sundays to catching up on work. But I’ve also enjoyed myself a lot. I’ve gone to concerts, I’ve spent nights in Bogota’s most expensive beer house, I’ve gone dancing, I’ve gone to parties, I’ve roamed around the city, I’ve taken my brother, his girlfriend, and my best friend to landmarks and tours in Bogota. I’ve managed to make time to travel to Villa de Leyba, camp in Suesca, take a day-trip to Zipaquira, and spend the dia de las velitas and other weekends in Apulo. I’ve taken my cousins out to eat, and I’ve eaten in delicious and expensive restaurants. I’ve bought lots of yarn and made scarves for me and other people, I’ve eaten lots of empanadas and fruit salads, spent time drinking beer in the streets, and I’ve paid covers that are too expensive. I also booked a flight to Providencia, a Colombian island in the Caribbean where I will be spending the first week of the year with my sister and my best friend’s family.
So could I have cut out most of these things and save it for a trip to Thailand? Of course I could’ve! But then I wouldn’t be enjoying my present life and I would be wasting this beautiful opportunity of living in Bogota again. I still do cut a lot of expenses, since most of the places I go out to are cheap (that’s just my style), but every once in a while it’s ok to give yourself the pleasure of a kick-ass restaurant, even if it’s expensive.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel like I managed to do everything I wanted: I saved money for traveling and other things, I worked like a maniac, I went out a lot, I sent my mom money, I explored the city, and I managed to travel. I prepared for the future and enjoyed the present, which is exactly what I want in life, and I think the secret to it was to be balanced, to cut off expenses where I could and give myself cushion for splurging sometimes.
Of course, I don’t wanna claim overall victory since 1. I know that even the fact that I found three jobs in a country with a very high unemployment rate was an extreme privilege, and 2. situations in life can change and I may not always have the privilege of this situation.
But what I do know is that right here, right now, in this present moment of my life I managed to have my cake and eat it too. And excuse me if I’m being an insufferable show-off but it feels pretty damn good.