My standard answer when people ask how I afford a life of travel: priorities. I choose to spend my money on plane tickets, splurge on paragliding/skydiving/scuba diving, scrimp by crashing in hostels. I’ve become a master at browsing instead of buying, at carefully choosing statement pieces instead of throwing every color in the bag, at spur-of-the-moment getaways instead of mindless consumption.
In reality, I’m much more satisfied by a life of travel instead of things. As my wise professor once said, collect experiences, not possessions; possessions possess you. While the novelty of a new item might wear off, the beauty of spending my money on experiences around the globe is that it’s a purchase with unlimited return, from the moment I decide to go until long after I snuggle back into my bed at home.
As soon as I return from a trip—or sometimes while I’m still on one—I start planning the next one. I try to sort out a rough sketch of where, when, with who. I love the thrill of buying a plane ticket, the sensation of knowing that soon I will be somewhere far, far away.
The combination of lust and logic. Sometimes, I do a lot: book accommodation, plan out what I want to see every day, research restaurants and museums, ask for recommendations. Other times, I decide to throw caution to the wind and sort it all out once I arrive. It’s also my daydreaming phase: picturing me (always with a remarkably cute outfit on a good hair day) in front of iconic landmarks, falling into a love story with a local, getting upgraded to business class with a winning smile and a charming remark.
It’s almost never exactly how I picture it—sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse, sometimes it’s just different. Invariably, there are moments when I curse the whole thing and wish I could just be some “normal” person who is perfectly content with two weeks a year in an all-inclusive beach resort. But mostly, I sit—on the beach, on a terrace, on the back of a motorbike— and simply enjoy the view and wonder how I ever got so lucky.
I feel like I’m rich just in memories: the particulars may start to fade and blur, but I’ll never forget the joy that travel has given me, from paragliding above the Bavarian Alps to winning my first sports bet at Melbourne Cup. I love those conversations with friends that start with remember when we were in (insert exotic locale here), or glancing at my newsfeed and noticing how many of my favorite people I met thousands of miles from my home.
I guess what they say is true: Travel is the only purchase that makes you richer.