Most people, if asked, will tell you that they would love to take a trip around the world. But there is a catch; it costs money. Money they will say they simply do not have. Most likely, however, money is not the issue. More likely, the true obstacle is the Western state of mind.
Likely they could save enough to take a significant trip in a short amount of time. For some, it will take longer. But what I have found is the biggest blocker to saving for travel is motivation. Saving money takes motivation to change your spending habits and make some minor sacrifices. Without motivation, you have no hope. So, instead of telling you all of the easy to employ ideas that you have probably read about already, I thought I would get right to the heart of the matter; how to induce a burning sense of urgency that will compel you to start saving your money for life altering experiences NOW! Here is how we did it and I think it is the best money saving scheme in the world.
Travel to India.
Or Vietnam. Or Cambodia. Or any other third or developing world country. Here is why.
Traveling in the third world for most people born and raised in the first world is like shoving a cattle prod down their pants. It can be very painful. But it makes a lasting impression. And it changes you and leaves you with wonderful stories (not the kind of stories that start with – Hey, remember that time we shoved a cattle prod down our pants? mind you).
People in third-world countries live lives that are so different than your own. They don’t check their twitter feeds every ten minutes. They don’t check in at foursquare before eating. The lack of concern for Facebook is refreshing. What you will find is that the human network matters. You have to actually talk to people. This simplicity, for a western traveler, can be mind bending. And if you let it, it will start to push you to a simpler existence.
People have a lot more respect for money in the third world. With less money, the essentials become highlighted while the frivolous gets tucked away in 5-star resorts or high-end hotel shops. Spend a month in India and you will be ashamed at how you used to spend money back home. Food costs are so much lower than you are used to. That deluxe hamburger meal you just ate in the first world is easily enough to get you a night stay at most simple accommodations in Indonesia. That dress shirt you just bought (even though you only casually wanted it and certainly didn’t need it) is a flight from Jakarta to Singapore.
It is incredible how much money you can frivolously spend in the western world. In the third, it is still possible but it just feels wrong and you’ll be surprised just how little you spend while traveling in the third world.
Without the 24/7 news networks, the TV commercials and Sunday sport shows, time slows down in the third world. The sun sets more slowly when it is your only light source and you get up earlier too. Life moves slower and you’ll remember it more as a result. Do you remember what you did last weekend? Not likely. Traveling through the third world, difficult as it is, will reward you with a sense of time wealth that you just can’t comprehend back home. One taste of this infinite setting sunset and you’ll realize just how precious time is and how easily you can acquire it while traveling.
Traveling matters for many reasons and is worth the money. It shifts your economic attention from possession to experiences. Recent studies have found this alone can make you feel happier. It opens your mind up to a whole world of possibilities and purposes. it can open economic doors as well as radically expanding your social network. All valuable.
Spending four months in India was a key factor in changing my perspectives on travel and the value of time and money. It gave me a sense of purpose to my savings and was the invisible hand that slapped me before I would make a wasteful purchase.
The secret to saving money is to find the motivation. Without it, your saving efforts will not succeed no matter how many top 10 money saving lists you read.
Go travel. Change your mind. Save your money.