Take the Opportunity, Make a Plan.
To some, travel seems out of reach, even impossible. For others it’s a way of life.
For me, travel is a luxury and something I’ve come to know well but is also something I have been very intentional about in recent years, ever since moving to Los Angeles in 2011.
My traveling journey started early — I was only 1 years old when my family immigrated from Eritrea to Canada, by way of Sudan. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of traveling with my family on vacations, moving across states for school and internships, moving across countries for better opportunities, and even trekking across continents for a better life.
Though I’ve had many travel experiences in life, these last few years have been critical to my travel journey. Freshly out of graduate school, looking to start my career and truly become independent, I moved to California all by myself and started my first big girl job. Suddenly, I had a car note, rent, student loans, and other bills and responsibilities that I had to budget for, EVERY MONTH.
Needless to say, when one of my girlfriends invited me to go to Hawaii the following summer, I just couldn’t commit! I mean, I really, really, wanted to go but I couldn’t justify spending all that money on a vacation when I had real bills to take care of. So naturally, my initial response was:
“Once I figure out my money situation I’ll let you know!”
Let’s be real, many people would love to travel. In my experience, some can’t because they are either broke college students with all the time in the world but few funds, or they have a real job and can save money but somehow can’t seem to find the time for a vacation.
I’ve experienced both tensions but this was the first time I struggled to say yes to a trip, ever!
My friends started planning the Hawaii trip more than a year in advance! Kendra sent out an email in June 2011 to get a feel for who was interested for a summer 2012 adventure. She wanted to start planting seeds early so we could start creating a budget and save up for the trip. When I told her I had to figure out my finances, she said:
“Girl, I hear you, that’s why I have to plan almost a year in advance.”
She wasn’t letting anything get in the way of her trip. If the funds aren’t there now that just means a little extra planning and advanced saving is needed. She was right but I still a struggled to take the leap. We were looking at a budget of $1,500 – $2,000 per person for an 8 day trip. That’s rent for a couple of months in some areas!
Finally, after 10 months and numerous email exchanges later, I agreed to join them!
I literally didn’t decide to go until April 2012 and by then the girls pretty much planned the entire trip. Oops! They ended up getting a travel agent who set up the itinerary for Maui, including flights, hotel, and car rental. My part was easy, all I had to do was say yes to a perfectly planned trip and everything else was taken care of, thanks to my super consistent and organized friends!
After that trip, I was hooked on travel. I wanted to take a big trip for myself at least once a year!
Not quite sure how this would be possible, I found some encouragement after talking with someone whom I admired for his commitment to traveling often. He told me I could travel just as much as anyone else, I just have to make it a priority. Specifically, he said,
“show me your bank statement and I’ll show you where your priorities are.”
That’s when it clicked for me and from that point on I told myself I would make traveling a priority. And there was no turning back. Sometimes all we need is a little nudge and guidance in the right direction to make our desires a reality.
Starting with the last 5 years of being intentional, I hope to take you on my journey of saying YES to travel. Through the following posts I’ll share my travels to Haiti, Costa Rica, Belize, Iceland, Portugal, France, Italy and more!
For more on my Maui trip, check out the following post.