As a child, I never really traveled much. My parent’s didn’t organize luxurious vacations every year although we did take one wonderful trip to Cancun, Mexico when I was in 4th grade. That was about it. Not vacationing with my family or even taking small trips to see other states really didn’t bother me or affect my upbringing in any way.
During my junior year of college however, the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland was brought up and I became very intrigued. I had never been out of the country before, besides Mexico that one time, and I was eager to get out of my boring college town. When I attended the study abroad informational meetings I almost completely wrote off the idea due to the ridiculous price, but something in me just could not shake the idea of traveling.
I Went For It
Long story short, I gave in to my curiosity and pursued joining the program. I applied for scholarships and grants, saved up money from my part-time job and used some of my tax return to take that 4 week trip to beautiful Dublin, Ireland.
Needless to say, as soon as I stepped off the plane at the Dublin International airport, I was bitten by the travel bug. My four weeks spent learning and living in Ireland were unlike any other. I met so many friendly people and tried so many things. We walked almost everywhere, embracing the hustle and bustle of the busy downtown Dublin area, the theatre district, and the historical sites as well. We hiked around the country, took a political taxi tour of Northern Ireland, and even took a ferry to the far west coast and biked around the tiny and intimate Aran Islands. I learned about Irish media and culture amongst true Irish people. Even though it was difficult to leave my son and my life at home for 4 weeks, it was a truly unforgettable experience that I’ll never regret and always remember.
The Hard Truth
The truth is, regardless of how passionate I am about traveling and seeing the world, I was in debt before I chose to study abroad and the trip also contributed to more of my existing student loan debt. Back then I wasn’t as financially conscious as I am now. While I can’t turn back time and tell my younger self what I know now about personal finance, I can change my habits for the future.
So I’m stuck with a dilemma. I long to travel, probably with my family this time, to create lasting memories within moments, step outside of my comfort zone and see the way different people live and operate throughout the world, but my financial house is not in order at all right now. Traveling could possible create more debt while I’m currently trying to shovel my way out of debt.
So I often wonder Should I still try to travel even though I’m still in debt?
When I started to get into personal finance, I thought the answer to this question was simple. I would work hard and diligently to pay off all my debt, while beginning to invest and save more. I would have to sacrifice a lot, including traveling. While my fiends took off on trips throughout the year I would remain strong and stick to my plan no matter what.
Now, my perspective is not as clear. Of course I want to improve my financial situation, but I also want to enjoy life right now, in this moment. Traveling has become very important to me and I long to find a balance between living for now and saving for the future. I don’t want to be stuck in the same state my whole entire life and never see anything else.
There’s so many different people, places and cultures out there and I want to explore them. Now that I’ve learned about budgeting and side hustling I can work harder to pay off my debt, invest in my retirement, AND set some money aside to travel smartly and utilize discounts and rewards to cut the expense of the trip.
Since I’m nearly at the beginning of my debt repayment journey and getting my finances together I’ve decided to put off international travel for now. I can really jumpstart my debt payments and eliminate some interest by aggressively saving and increasing my income. However, I do plan to set up a checking account to deposit travel funds into but traveling will not be a priority as of now.
For now I plan to take small, more affordable mini trips with my family. It is a big world out there, but it’s also a big and diverse country and I can feed my urge to travel by starting to explore some of the attractions around me to start. I plan to check out national parks and landmarks, great attractions and more in bordering states and towns and then expand my horizons from there.
Being in debt doesn’t mean you have to cut out everything from your life and some times it does. But I feel like I have a good grip on my situation. And there’s just so much to see out there so I’m comfortable with taking travel baby steps as my situation improves.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever traveled when you were in debt?
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