Returning to school after a long break, the usual catch-up sessions occur. How are you? How was your break? Yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah.
Although I’ve been told I’m an attentive listener, this year I was listening with “all five senses” as one teacher at my school puts it.
Because I was getting the Joneses.
My colleagues warned me that I would realize how wealthy the student population actually is when I asked about vacations.
They were right.
Students spent the break criss-crossing the Caribbean, the United States, and European countries. What I didn’t expect were the amount of teachers who did too.
I stood amazed at how many people traveled internationally for the holidays. I wanted to criss-cross the globe living the cosmopolitan life! Back home, there’s not such a priority on international travel. As a result, when I hear of a person traveling abroad I automatically equate it with wealth (even though I, myself, am not a wealthy person, but I travel).
Now, lest I forget, I was way too homesick to really enjoy anything except the U.S. of A. in December. But I’ve been feeling greedy/thankless/ambitious (depending on how you look at it) at the travel I have experienced.
The travel bugs are swarming me and I don’t have any bug repellant.
Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how I can visit the five countries (outside of the US and Venezuela) where the majority of my readers come from (in order: The UK, Panama, Canada, Peru, and Brazil). I’m supposed to go to Brazil in March while Canada I may get to if I go to New York state again this summer.
And that should be enough.
It is enough.
I find that some of my best travel experiences were the ones I did not think I would ever complete. For example, when I first left the country for Melbourne, Australia my plan was to stay in Melbourne, Australia the full five months. I wasn’t going to see Sydney, definitely wasn’t going to see The Outback, and New Zealand? Wasn’t that another country? So that too was a no. Yet by the end of my time there I had seen all three places and was thankful for them.
I just need to remember to stick to the solo rules of travel I’ve followed in the past: travel to international locales where friends are staying so I don’t have to pay for housing (if staying more than two nights), travel when I have the money, and travel when it moves me.
If the locale doesn’t fit all three criteria, I don’t go.
I also have to keep my huge end goal in mind: to pay off student debt. It’s so easy to get caught up in the cosmopolitan, higher standard of living lifestyle when working at certain schools. My dollar goes far so I can afford items I can’t afford in the States, everyone is traveling and seems to enjoy the finer things in life, and it’s my new reality.
But, I have to keep both feet on the ground. Extra money goes to loans, not international travel, because none of these countries are going to fall off the side of the globe anytime soon. I’m reading financial books like Learnvest’s Financially Fearless to remind me of my end (financial) goal.
This semester I will travel around Venezuela so I can get to know the country better and that, in and of itself, will be beautiful.
When I hit my midway debt goal mark I will treat myself to an international trip (to a neighboring country). When the entire debt is paid off I’ve already decided to tour around South America for an extended period of time as a celebration (with savings, of course, not credit cards).
And whenever I forget who I am and the down-to-earth lifestyle I was raised with, I will pull out the 25+ year old hooded hair dryer my mother told me I could keep over Christmas break. It still works, it still helps me deep condition my hair, and it was free. Unnecessary expense avoided.
Like that old hair dryer that came out from its forgotten place to make me happy when the time was right, I will travel (even more than I already do) when the time is right.
The Joneses may as well move back to the US because I am not where they (appear) to be, but I’m where I need to be.
And that’s OK.
And that’s my travel bug bug repellant.