“Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.” ― Dallin H. Oaks
I love reading travel essays, but before we started traveling I was disappointed when the essays never explained how one affords to travel. I received a comment on my blog the other day asking me how we afford to travel six months of the year and live abroad.
I never gave that question much thought after we started traveling because we just did it, but it is a great question and one that I think deserves a thoughtful answer.
Let me break down the quote above because it explains our process perfectly.
Desires dictate our priorities.
What do you desire the most? For us, it is travel and being immersed in different cultures. When we were newlyweds, we worked for a couple of years, saved our money, then traveled for a year.
We started traveling through the United States in an old camper van that had a leak in the gas line, which we plugged with chewing gum. Gas was 75 cents a gallon and in Texas we got a free beer with a fill up. When the windshield wipers stopped working, we tied strings to them and moved them by pulling on the strings.
We camped in the National Forests free. When our van broke down in California, we shipped our belongings back to my parent’s house, sold the van, and put our dog in a kennel in California. Then we went to the airport and chose a flight to Hawaii. We walked around the Big Island of Hawaii for a month, camped in free places, and met wonderful local people.
What do you crave or wish to happen? Once you know your desires, then it will be easier to make your desires your priorities.
Priorities shape our choices.
When we understood our desires, we prioritized our lives, which shaped our choices.
Although, when you have children, everything changes. When Cory was born, we reestablished our priorities. Travel was important to us, but we had more responsibilities to our little family.
We continued to travel, but not as much or as far away. We love to camp and it was easy to find beautiful places near our home to camp, fish, and enjoy nature. As Cory grew, we took longer trips and when he was 14 years old, we took him abroad for the first time.
We rented a car, camped all over Europe, and even helped friends move into a German Castle on the Rhine River. We were teachers and we both had the summers off, so travel was affordable and we had more time to travel.
Travel is important and a priority for us. We had to make difficult choices…new car or travel…new furniture or travel…new house or old fixer-upper or build your own or live in an old 1952 school bus. You get the idea. We never bought new cars and the only new furniture we bought was a huge overstuffed couch that was quickly eaten by our labrador puppy. We built our own Timber Framed house in the Ozark Mountains. We lived in a converted old school bus generating our own electricity. We built an outhouse and walked to our spring for water.
We lived within our means, paid our one credit card off every month, shopped at second-hand stores for clothes and toys, and bought all of our furniture from auctions and refurbished it. And we loved it! We never felt denied. We never argued about money! Our priorities were well established.
When we couldn’t afford to travel or didn’t have the time, we hosted foreign exchange students in our home. We learned about their cultures, their customs, and their lives abroad. Then, when we could travel, we visited our foreign exchange families abroad. We were welcomed with open arms and felt like we were a part of a large extended family throughout the world.
Our passion for travel never faded. We knew the choices we had to make in the best interest of our family and we lived vicariously through our foreign visitors when travel was not possible.
Choices determine our actions.
I still get upset when I read travel essays that say, “Just do it.” I read an article today that said, “Being Broke is the Best Time to Start Traveling”. I disagree! It all starts with our priorities, that determine our choices, that lead to our actions.
If travel is your priority, then the choices you make will lead you to take action to pursue your passion. It isn’t easy! Travel is expensive. Travel means making difficult choices financially. Travel means researching, planning, and organizing. Travel means living simply and learning how to fix, repair, and make the things you need instead of a trip to Wal-Mart or Home Depot.
What kind of action can you take to pursue your desire for travel?
Of course, you don’t have to be rich to travel! We live on a fixed income and made the choice to move to Nicaragua so that we could live simply and cheaply, build a comfortable and cozy home-base, and still be able to pursue our passions. We are not trust fund babies or millionaires.
Our lives have changed very little in moving abroad. We established our priorities many years ago. In fact, we often compare our lives in the Ozark Mountains to living in a developing country…simple, resourceful, and creative.
“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.” ― Roman Payne
All of our paths are unique. We approach them from what we desire the most in life. Travel has given us new eyes and different colors.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ― Lao Tzu
And it is always wonderful to return home again!