After listening to the wonderful Ted Talk “Before I die, I want to ___________” by Candy Chang,* I requested people answer that very question on my Facebook page. Of the many eclectic answers I received, the highest percentage of responses (40%) expressed a desire to travel, explore and experience the world and other cultures.
I was pleased to hear this as travel is an opportunity that is achievable by almost everyone. But I was surprised by how many expressed their desire as something to do in the indefinite future, something that would be nice, but not necessarily plausible in the short term. If you are deferring seeing the world, I encourage you to reconsider. The experiences you would have now cannot be deferred and are well within your grasp if you are willing to make different choices. When it to comes to killer traveling tips, I defer to Chris Guillebeau.** But a simple way for anyone to succeed quickly at being able to explore the world is this: sacrifice your short distance travel for your long distance travel.
Short distance travel is how you get from point A to point B day-in and day-out, every day. To work, to the grocery story, to the kids’ soccer practice. Long distance travel is how you achieve that grand experience of stepping out of what’s known to the unknown, the faraway, the exotic, the new, the challenging and life changing. How do you achieve one by sacrificing the other? We in the United States, spend, often unthinkingly, an inordinately large amount of our income on our automobiles.
According to a study in by AAA, owning an automobile costs Americans an annual average of $9,122 for a sedan, and $7,000 for a small car and $11,600 for a SUV. The costs included expenses such as fuel, maintenance, insurance, tires and depreciation, but NOT a monthly car payment.
The average cost of a new car hit a new record in August 2013: $31,252.
The average car payment? $630 a month.
That’s a lot of money—our life energy—used to get back and forth from places; money that could take us to the Great Wall of China, to Bali, or to Stonehenge.
But we can change that.
Option 1: You sacrifice the short term by getting rid of your car if you live somewhere with quality mass transit. Get rid of the auto expense altogether.
Option 2: Reduce the costs of your car by getting rid of your expensive car (or preferably, not buying it in the first place) and opting for something reliable and less expensive. And then keeping it for a long time. The money many of us spend on car payments—most of which will never be recovered due to depreciation—can provide invaluable travel experiences.
For example, if you kept your “old” car for one extra year instead of purchasing a new one with the average $630 car payment, here are a few things you could with that money that I randomly found in about ten minutes of searching:
1. For one-month’s car payment, you could buy a roundtrip ticket from San Francisco to San Jose, Costa Rica.
2. For two month’s car payments ($1,260) you can fly from Dayton, Ohio to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (I just bought this ticket for the World Cup this summer) or go to Paris from Chicago and have some money left over.
3. A year of not making this car payment will pay for a weeklong African safari.
The list goes on an on. We say we want to see the World. Now let’s give this desire the priority it deserves. Happy travels!