Is a financial crisis the best time to go travelling?

January 8, 2009 at 4:22 am 1 comment

With all the financial doom and gloom around at the moment, it seems to me this year may well be the best time to go traveling to the developing world. It may seem a bit counter intuitive but lets have a look at a few of the facts and common excuses not to travel in times like these.

Staying home – Facts and Excuses

1. Costs are still costs – job or no job.

If you stay at home your fixed costs like rent, food, transport, insurance and tax are all going to stay relatively the same whether you have income coming in or not.

2. If you have to be temporarily poor, where do you want to be?

If the income is not coming in or is drastically reduced at home – where would you rather be poor, sitting on a beach in Goa drinking cocktails for $40 or $50 dollars a week, or in your lounge room in suburbia continually hearing news about how bad things are for significantly more. Just day to day living expenses like food and travel will far outstrip this.

3. Security? What Security?

After discussing this with a few friends a common refrain was they needed security in bad times and that any job is better than no job. However, I seem to remember that they used the same excuse when times were good. They had to make hay when the sun shined and all that. Now a bit of quick maths says that leaves no time ever to actually make the break and go on an adventure of a life time. Maybe there is no perfect time to go traveling, more likely though, any time is perfect to go traveling and if you have a bit of savings an economic downturn is just a little more perfect.

4. Hole in the resume?

One very successful career orientated person said just a week before he lost his job that he can’t afford the hole in his resume. Well he has a whole now not of his own choosing and alas in the field he is in, the short term prospect of filling that hole is pretty dire. Why don’t we just say if there is going to be a hole in the resume, lets use that time to see the world, grow as a person, recharge the batteries and realign what is important in life. For him travel would be a perfect anitidote, alas at the moment he can be found most nights in a lovely little irish pub not far from here in central tokyo, bemoaning his fate and continually banging on about his poor prospects.

5. Taking time out is not running away.

This very same friend accused me of running away from the bad times and was quite vocal about the irresponsibility of taking time off when the future was so unsure. Maybe it is just a better way of dealing with the crap situation most of us are facing at the moment. Who hasn’t said that one day when the time is right i want to throw it all in and travel the world. Well for many of us the world is throwing it in for us, why not go and follow the dream.

Life on the road – Facts and Excuses

6. Traveling is too expensive.

True five star, Conde Nast travel might be a bit out of reach for most right now, but you know what? It was for most when times were good. This is perfect chance to go on an alternative style of trip. One where you don’t stay in homogenous hotels, that look the same from Barbados to Bangkok. ( Over priced locally decorated restaurants aside of course) Cheap travel has always been the best way to discover the “real country”. Staying at little B&B’s, pensions, hostels and locally run hotels is sometimes the best gateway to new adventures, people and experiences. The concierge at the Marriot is always going to tell you tourist brochure story of a country, never the warts and all version. Get out there and discover these places on the cheap, i can almost guarantee it will change your life.

7. The developing world is loads cheaper

Traveling in areas like India, South East Asia, Africa or South America will be almost always cheaper than staying home and worrying about not being able to afford a new television. And if we look at things in another way, the life changing experiences, personal insight, new friends, and improved personal outlook are often priceless and last a lot longer than a new tele.

8. Your chance to become a new improved, happier and more well rounded person.

Having been traveling for the best part of 18 years, living in various cities in Europe and Asia and visiting over 50 countries along the way, I can safely say that the most rewarding, educating and self improving times have come when I was on the road. Make no mistake, sometimes there are real challenges, in some case life threatening, but everyone of those challenges has made more more independent, creative, interested in life and on the whole I like to think, a better person.

9. Can’t take the kids?

This is a world I must confess I have little experience in but I have met many young families on the road and without fail the parents have waxed lyrical non stop about how it has improved their kids confidence, opened their eyes to the wider world, brought the family together and most importantly made them better parents. . Worried about taking the kids out of school? What would you rather have had as a kid, a year traveling the world with your parents and learning real life lessons that last a life time, or be sat in a class room looking at books and listening to boring teachers telling you about a world they had probably never experienced to the full themselves. This is an education that no school could ever give. There are extra challenges to traveling with kids but the benefits to your kids and you are to numerous to count – think about it.

Check out The Family Travel Forum (www.familytravelforum.com) for excellent advice on taking your kids on a trip of a lifetime.

Also – www.travelwithyourkids.com and www.holidayswithkids.com.au ( Australian focussed)

Go to Travelling Family , Family on bikes , Simone’s family travel Blog for stories and inspiration about family travel. There are heaps out there, these are just a few I found after a quick search.

10. Where do I go?

This is a question i really don’t understand. The only question that really needs to asked is where can’t i go because of war, natural disasters or restrictive governments. If you really have no idea, get down to a dollar shop, buy a cheap map of the world, a dart and a blindfold. When you get home put the map on the wall, blindfold over the eyes, get your nearest and dearest to point you in the right direction and and throw the dart. Where ever it lands might be a good place to start unless of course its the middle of the Pacific, Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Sudan or Zimbabwe. Currently they might be a bit of a challenge but everywhere else with an airport, a history and a story to tell might be a good place to start.

Links to find a starting point or get some inspiration.

www cycle-for-change.com ( A gratuitous plug for our own trip)

www.escapeartist.com

www.lonelyplanet.com

www.virtualtourist.com

Now all this might seem a bit too life changing for some, but if you need more information why not try out Tim Ferriss’ blog ( He of 4 Hour work week fame) for a few tips and pointers about changing the way you do things and start enjoying life.

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Entry filed under: cycling, fitness, Trip Preparations. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Get inspired by other touring cyclists Riding through Tokyo – video

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Kale  |  January 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I like to comment that failing to consider that flying contributes an undue amount to your carbon footprint. Therefore, travelling that includes any type of air travel must be very carefully weighed against any hope for making a difference and change to our environment. Read Heat by George Monbiot for a very good analysis of this.

    Reply

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