Maria Brophy

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Motivation / Philosophy

How to Live a Life of Travel

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Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, New Zealand

“A life of travel is not for special, rich or lucky people.  It’s for those who choose to live it.”

Do you dream of places you want to travel, but put it off until “some day” when you have more time and money or when your kids have grown?

Some day may never come. 

Most people have been brainwashed to believe that they don’t have the time, the money or the right to live a life of travel and that travel is for exotic people blessed with unusual jobs or trust funds.

And then, when they finally do embark abroad, it’s only for two weeks to a foreign land where they blazed in on a plane, made a mad dash to check off the “tourist to do’s” and then returned home exhausted.  Two weeks is child’s play!  For a truly rich experience, you need big chunks of time.

Imagine how much you would learn about yourself if you spent a month eating up the epicurean delights of Argentina, swimming with the sharks in South Africa or immersing in the spirituality of Ayers Rock.

You can travel if you want to. I promise you!  Please, read on and take this to heart.

I was born with the travel bug.  You could say it’s a curse, because the adventure of travel is all I ever think about.

My life and business have been carefully arranged so that my family and I can spend a couple months a year exploring new destinations.  Some years we are on the road four months or more.

My husband and I have created our company to enable us travel at the drop of hat.  And yes, this loses us money sometimes.  Shutting down our studio to travel overseas for a month at a time puts a ding in the revenue of our business.  But we choose the fun adventures over money every time.

One of the biggest misconceptions about travel is that you have to have a stash of cash to be able to take big trips.  It’s simply not true.  You don’t have to be wealthy, or even make an above average salary.  You just have to choose travel over “stuff”.

Every year Drew and I discuss getting a new car.  My 1997 Toyota 4-Runner has a lot of miles and a few dents.  Our conversation goes something like this:

Drew, pointing to a car ad in the newspaper:  “How about the Chevy Murano. They’re nice.”

Me:  “Let me calculate the cost.”

After a lot of clacking on my iphone calculator, I say:  “How about a trip to New Zealand instead?  It’ll be cheaper.”

When I’m faced with the decision to buy creature comforts or to take an adventure, the adventure wins out every time!

Most people claim that they want to live the travel lifestyle, but they rarely choose to make it a priority in their life.  Maybe they don’t know how, and it’s not their fault.  Sometime between when we are born and the time we are old enough to buy our own plane ticket, we are infused with the belief that travel is a luxury item, like a Porsche or a diamond ring.

But what if you knew that you could live a life, NOW, where every year you take a few months to explore other parts of the world?

And when you do finally retire, and you’re old and tired, you have a lifetime of memories of all the wonderful places you’ve been!

It’s not that difficult to create this type of life.  You just have to re-program your mind to think like a traveler.

Here’s how:

MAKE THE DECISION

Decide that you want to travel NOW, not when you have money, or are retired, or some other anchor point in the far future.  But now, starting this year.

ARRANGE YOUR LIFE TO MAKE TRAVEL A PRIORITY

You can either cultivate a career that allows travel or convince your 9-5 boss to allow you to take more time off.

Cultivate a Travel-Friendly Career:

There are numerous careers that allow you to take off for periods of time to travels.  They include:

  • Nursing
  • Teaching
  • Writer/blogger
  • Artist
  • Entrepreneur
  • Fishing / Tourist careers
  • Massage, personal trainers, tutoring, dog walking; any skill that can go mobile

For nine-to-fivers:  If you have a 9-5 job that only allows a two week vacation each year, there is an alternative:

Train your boss, every year, to let you take a couple weeks extra without pay.  (Be okay with losing that pay.  You’re buying a wonderful lifestyle!)

Don’t ask permission, but rather make the most convincing argument that this is a lifestyle need, and that when you return you’ll be refreshed and raring to be the best employee ever.  Many bosses will surprisingly agree to this if they know that the company would benefit in the long run.

When I had my cubicle job many years ago in the insurance industry, I convinced my boss to let me take a one month trip most years.  In 1997 I convinced him to let me take a four month sabbatical.  I happily bought a round-the-world ticket and went on the trip of a lifetime.

HAVE LESS, TRAVEL MORE

The less stuff you have to worry about, the easier it is to pick up and go.  Stop accumulating worthless junk, electronics and clothing and start unloading what you have.

  • Live below your means.
  • Get rid of your cable bill.
  • Don’t buy that new gadget if the one you have is good enough.
  • Get roommates.
  • Live in a smaller home (everything costs less when you do).
  • Keep your car as long as you can, pay it off and keep driving it until it dies.
  • Take good care of the things you have before replacing them with new ones.  (My washer and dryer are over 15 years old and they still run great.)

DON’T SWEAT THE COST OF TRAVEL

My wise mother in-law once said “Don’t worry about money.  It’s just a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper.”

Travel costs money, but you can do it for less than you think.  There are parts of the world where you can travel for very cheap, like Argentina, Nicaragua and Mexico.  In more expensive locations, save by staying in youth hostels or by doing a home exchange.  With a little creativity, you can stretch your money very far.

If you are worried about spending your savings to go on a life altering trip, remind yourself of what you are working for, anyway.   If not for a great time experiencing all that our world has to offer, than what?  Enjoy life, now!

CHOOSE TRAVEL OVER LESS IMPORTANT THINGS

Take a good look at what you are spending money on.  I have a friend who gets a new car every year and has a big screen television set in every room, but she complains that she can’t afford to travel!

On the other hand, my younger sister works simple jobs so she is free to go to Europe every summer.  Many of her friends are jealous.  But, she’s never owned a cell phone or a car.  She chooses a life of travel over a life of normal!

Never once have I regretted spending the time or money to go on a global adventure. I have enjoyed so many amazing adventures around the world, that if I died today, I would feel fulfilled.  I want you to feel the same way, too!

MAKE THE COMMITMENT

When we decided to travel Australia, we planned six months in advance.  The first thing we did was choose the dates and then bought our plane tickets.  Once the tickets were bought, the trip was a done-deal; there are no refunds.  Everything else fell into place after that.  Buying plane tickets = Commitment!

My challenge to you:  Choose one place that you want to go, and pick a date in the next nine months to go there.  Buy your plane tickets immediately.   Once you do that, you are committed!  Get excited and make a promise to yourself to do this every year.

Adventure, travel, culture:  it’s there for the taking.  You just have to arrange your life to have it.

Please, share in the comments:  Where will your dream adventure take you?

PS:  If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard from me for awhile, it’s because I’ve been busy writing a book called How to Understand Art Licensing Contracts.  Please, click on the link and check it out!

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22 Comments How to Live a Life of Travel

    1. Maria Brophy

      Kara, great suggestion! We usually find work where we go, or line up meetings or events when traveling. That way, it’s a write off and we earn extra to pay for the travel. You have to get creative!

      Reply
  1. Archan Mehta

    Spunky,

    We missed you, so welcome back! How nice to read your work, again.
    I like the photo: you look great, as usual. You have a photogenic personality, to be sure, and as the years pass, age will be kind to you.

    Your post was brilliant. It reminded me of “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma, a lawyer turned writer/author and coach. It is a must-read book for you: almost like the story of your life, so your post really resonated with me. Your post makes a lot of sense.

    The book is about life and our priorities, so it was a wonderful read. I would recommend it. You should travel to exotic destinations, locales.
    You deserve it. It will expand your mind and broaden your horizons. It will also be a welcome change. Enjoy your sojourns, please, and make the most of such vacations. I am glad you are enjoying your life.

    Cheerio.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Archan, I missed you too! Finally got my book written, so now I’m back! Thanks for being here when I write. You’re a good friend. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Susie Cassens

    I love to travel. We own a RV and have had a great time exploring the US. We often say we wish we had a camper while our kids were young.I have been pleasantly surprised about the beauty and uniqueness of each state.Everyone knows about Florida or Vermont but I was wowed by Michigan and South Dakota recently.Even did a corn maze…too fun;)Of course traveling overseas is a fun adventure as well..

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Susie, thanks for sharing on here. That’s awesome that you have arranged your life to travel in your RV. America has so many hidden treasures, I’m always amazed at the wonders here! Next week we’ll be traveling through MOAB and then onto Boulder, Colorado. The drive is going to be beautiful!

      Reply
  3. Srinivas

    Maria,

    I realized about year ago the importance of choosing a life of experiences over one made up of possessions. I always thought this was spot on since you can’t take anything with you when you die. But experiences live on in your mind and heart forever.

    Reply
  4. Steve Netherby

    A brilliant post, Maria, full of life wisdom. Will link to this from my site when I open it. My readers should get to know The Maria too.

    Reply
  5. Jodi

    Enjoyed this post, Maria. I did what you described above and quit my job as a lawyer after 5 years of practice in order to travel the world. People often ask how I was able to do so and I explain that it took seeing purchases and decisions as opportunity costs – I could get this nice pair of shoes, but it could also be a plane ticket somewhere fun. When I left to travel, I started in South America but ended up spending almost 2.5 years in Asia, where budget can be quite low. With $15-$20 a day including accommodation and food, your most expensive purchase is the ticket over. A life of travel is far more accessible than people realize, and a world of wondrous discovery.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Jodi, your story is remarkable! I love what you’re doing, and thank you for landing on my page. I’ve always been fascinated by people who choose an entire life of travel!

      I landed on your blog, and it’s great. Thanks for being so inspiring. I’ll be following your adventures!

      Reply
  6. Cheri

    Thank you Maria….very inspirational post

    By the way, are there any web sites to book tickets or find good travel bargains you’d recommend?

    I’ve used Orbitz, and I get updates on deals from Vacations to Go.
    Cheri

    Reply
  7. Lindy Gruger Hanson

    Maria, I love your post because I could relate to your philosophy so much. We are artists and love to travel too and it’s been the last 4 years that we’ve started making it a priority. Your post reminds me about purchasing tickets and making the committment to travel…so I better go do that soon! I like the idea of trading houses with someone in a place that one would like to go to. I’ve heard of some websites like that where you can find folks to trade with. Although I like the idea of word of mouth and through friends of friends. We have a place in Todos Santos, Baja, and would like to do some of that with another.
    Good thoughts, Lindy
    http://LGrugerArt.etsy.com

    Reply
  8. Kathryn

    Thanks for reminding me of what’s important. I’ve been looking for a home – below my means – and recently started looking for a bigger more expensive home. Yes I want to travel and I need to scale back again.

    Reply
  9. Daina Scarola

    Wow Maria! When I saw the headline I just knew this would be my kind of post. A couple years ago my husband and i got really into a Canadian travel documentary called Departures. One day I said to him out of the blue, “when our mortgage is paid off in 2012, let’s rent out the house, sell a bunch of our stuff, and hit the road on a year-long surf trip”. To my joyful surprise he jumped on board, no hesitation, and are still 100% on board, 2 years later. We figure we could work while we travel, and live for much less out of a camper than we do now. I’m also an artist and I’ve been focusing a lot on building my online following, painting and posting regularly, and selling online. I can do this from anywhere! And my husband is a carpenter/contractor who would bring his basic tools and tool belt with us so he could pick up work anywhere too.
    In the meantime we are trying to spend a month every year travelling somewhere. Our major reason for pause is our two elderly 14 and 17-year old dogs. We want them to live out their lives comfortably at home. After they’ve passed, then we will dive into making our wanderlust a reality. Until then, I will keep reminding myself of my dreams every time I see new things that tempt my wallet. I have change jars that ALL my change goes into in anticipation of this trip. In Canada it’s easy to save up quickly if you never spend your change… we have loonies ($1 coin) and twoonies ($2 coin). lol…
    I totally agree with Srinivas’ comment: …”you can’t take anything with you when you die. But experiences live on in your mind and heart forever.”
    Great post Maria!!! You live a life well loved.

    Reply
  10. Roxanne

    Great post! Sooo going after this right now!

    Checked 5 on your list so should work, right! Now where is that bottle of energy that I left somewhere?….

    Glad I found your site!

    Reply
  11. Jen

    It’s like you wrote that straight from my brain =) I agree COMPLETELY and am always telling others the exact same thing. Anyone can travel, they just have to make it a priority!

    Reply
  12. Emiel

    Hi Maria,
    This is all so true. I can tell you that our family is about to make the commitment (read: buy plane tickets) for our 6 weeks back-packing trip to Asia. Our kids are 7 and 10 and we believe 6 weeks of slow travel will be a wonderful experience for all of us. We traveled before but always shorter periods (here in the Netherlands we have very strict education laws and even homeschooling while traveling is not allowed (only in very, very special cases).
    Our idea is to only buy a ticket and book the first 3 nights in some Asian capital. After that, we will let serendipity guide us. Maybe we will use our friends on social networks to help us and guide us to interesting places.

    Emiel

    Reply
  13. Michelle Nicholson

    Maria,

    Perfectly said. And while I too believe this, I have not practiced it of late. So now I am off to buy some plane tickets.

    Cheers.

    Reply
  14. Michael Rhoda

    Spot-on advice, Maria! Travel and illustration computers/software are my only luxuries. Old cars, brown bag lunches, free TV, and clothes until they wear out are what makes travel affordable for me.

    Reply
  15. Pingback: How Taking an Adventure can grow your Business - Maria Brophy | Maria Brophy

  16. Tino

    I just have to say… every word you wrote spoke to me so clearly. This post is so inspiring and I’m so grateful for coming across it. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  17. Ekaterina Chernova

    Maria is right guys! You choose your lifestyle.
    I’m from New Zealand 🙂
    After calculating the basic costs of living here in NZ, my husband and I, who are both artists, left to live in Vietnam for 5 months!! And we had our wedding on a tropical island in Thailand with family and friends, where we lived in a huge villa with swimming pool. — And that all (including flight tickets, eating out all the time and heaps of free time) was cheaper than just basic rent, food, and fuel in New Zealand. Awesome right? 🙂
    The thing is, my husband had a concept artist job online, and I could create my oil paintings just on a sunny terrace of our apartment in Vietnam. One painting would pay for a monthly rent!
    I encourage you to just do it if you ever wanted to live a life of travel! Freedom is taken, not given.
    Love all, Ekaterina

    Reply

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