When I finally burst out those school gates for the last time ever at the end of Year 12, my mates and I decided we wanted to adventure around the world. When we finally picked up enough courage to decide on a one-way ticket to see the world, we were promptly reminded that we were broke as fuck.
Instead of moping around though, I tried to understand why I wanted to travel. Was it to see beautiful places? To meet people? Or was it to learn about other cultures and eat their delicious food? The answer, of course, was all of this and more, and once I had this list of desires it wasn’t hard to come up with ways to satisfy them without ever having those initial travel funds.
1. Worked full-time
The first thing I did was defer uni for a semester anyway, but instead of leaving, I found a full-time job. After 14 consecutive years of study, this felt like a holiday (mostly). It was new, exciting, and I didn’t have any of that pesky homework to keep up me up at night. More importantly, I was earning my own money for once, and was free to spend it whichever way I saw fit. That was freedom, baby. That was the wind in my hair, and my feet on the road. It was eating ice-cream on the beach and sculling schooners on a Thursday.
2. Took more weekend trips
There’s a reason why roughly 8 million visitors make their way to our sunburnt country each year, and it sure as hell isn’t our city’s rental prices. Australia is home to countless insta worthy beaches and jaw-dropping stretches of bushland, most of which goes unappreciated by our homegrown travellers. It’s a damn shame, too, because taking weekend trips made me realise that a lot of what I was looking for in other countries could be found right here. I went on bushwalks to waterfalls, camped under the stars, and partied in a beach house with friends – all without ever having to get on a plane or fork out hundreds of dollars.
3. Funday Sundays
A couple years ago my friends and I would meet every Sunday at a new place that somebody had picked out. It could be a restaurant, bar, gallery, park – anywhere really. Often, we wouldn’t know anything about the place we were going to, except for the selector, and the selector would change every week. It was like Book Club for clubs, and our first rule was that we would tell everybody about it. I didn’t know this at the time, but this was a wonderful way to be tourists in our own city. We avoided hitting that hump that comes with routine and familiarity, because we were exposing ourselves to these new experiences every week; we were doing what we would be doing if we were travelling.
4. Volunteered my time for something I was passionate about
Often what drives people to go travelling is a lack of fulfilment in their everyday activities. For young people, it can simply be because we don’t know what will give us that fulfilment yet, and we hope to figure that out on the road. Whenever I knew I wasn’t going to be travelling for a while, I took steps to make sure I found fulfilment in the things I did each day, and changed them when I didn’t. What this often looks like in reality is volunteering your unpaid time towards something you believe in. This can be campaigning for environmental action, interning at a not-for-profit, or investing time into personal creative endeavours. Basically, when you’re happier with the things that take up your time, you’re less likely to have itchy feet.
5. Took in couch surfers
By chance I once ended up hosting two couch surfers who were friends with somebody I vaguely knew in Canada. I thought it would just be an honest favour, something I could maybe call upon if I ever made my way to that hemisphere. Instead, they ended up injecting some traveller’s energy into the house and my housemates and I were in a rush to show them some beautiful spots around Sydney and were seeing our city through these visitor’s eyes; it felt like I was on holiday with them too. Of course, this isn’t an option for everyone, but you can always follow the same idea to lesser extents. Be open to meeting new people, especially travellers, and you’ll get a chance to share in their holiday experience too.