Broke? Travel Anyway!

I often get emails, and messages from people – asking the same question – “how do you afford travel? Are you from a rich family? Do you have connections? Did you get some crazy compensation deal – and have decided to blow it all on roaming the world rather than making sound investments?!” 

Well, no. No to all of those. I wish it was something as easy as being in a car accident – and getting free money, but it isn’t. It’s kind of like The Wizard of Oz…it looks like a spectacular vision until you see the cogs turning behind the curtain. Yes, the actual facts of the matter are a lot less glossy – and  whilst this may be hard to take for some…I actually work. 

Take my first major trip on my own, for example. My year abroad studying in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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For two years before that I worked at an electrical store, moving televisions around, and trying to sell people outdated SCART cables they didn’t want…taking overtime whenever I could, whilst also taking shifts at my Aunt’s pub on the weekend…all the while squirreling away money whenever possible. With no disrespect intended, I wasn’t like the others that were accepted on to the study abroad programme (Newcastle UK – Atlanta USA) there would be no money from my Mother, or Father…I’m one of five children, I would feel rude even asking.

But I made it – and before I knew it I was in the midst of my own travel scrapbook! Carving out new memories for myself…whether it be visa worries at passport control, attempting to make the transition to the different pace of American life, or dancing insane jigs with Waka Flocka, I had flew from the ordinary day-to-day, and was living out these once impossible fantasies!

Sounds dreamy, dreamy – I’m sure? But the truth was my budgeted money soon ran out, and there were a couple of very hairy months – I recall that after weeks of eating next to nothing I sent my parents a whimpering email explaining the situation…and I received something along the lines of – “you’ll figure it out.” And I felt it was harsh, but the fact is…you will…if you want it that badly – you will. (And I’m still alive, so I guess I did!)

Study abroad programmes can be a great way to get away, and experience a different culture first hand – there are often great schemes, and incentives – with mine I was actually reimbursed for any costs throughout the year. Which meant I had thousands to play with at the end of it all – long story short, two weeks in Greece with some of my best friends from back home. 

My second major trip came just after I graduated university- although I was recruited before I had even been given my degree…and a month after I flew out to Beijing, China.

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Again I had saved, and saved working some terrible job – this time around it was a sportswear store, selling people trainers, and trying not to touch their sweaty feet as I assisted them with trying on their shoes. Not ideal – but a means to an end. This was just so I had some initial spends, as the programme actually flew me out at no cost, and many of the site-seeing trips, and other interesting adventures were paid for, or massively subsidised.

Either way, there I was again – in a totally foreign, and unknown environment…forced out of my comfort zone…but that’s what it’s all about…I was experiencing all of the weirdness, that was so different to anything the 9 to 5 version of myself would be encountering…whether it be bizarre disputes over taxi fares, relaxed views to public pooping, or trying to sample local dishes without being sick (such as dog) – I knew these were memories that would last a lifetime.

And thanks to the cheap day-to-day living China affords, I was able to save a little for the NEXT trip…you see, that is important – always have the next trip in mind. 

My third major trip to Scandinavia came unexpectedly…but was well worth it…

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My sister – someone who has worked all over the world with nothing more than a can-do attitude, and flexibility – found a two month long  job in the Arctic Circle at a remote lodge…it was placed right between Sweden, and Finland. Did I fancy it? Well…OF COURSE I DID! There was a catch though, we had to fly out (again at their expense, so no worries) the following day! You see, sometimes the opportunity comes abruptly, and if you ponder over it too much, it will go to someone else – you sometimes just have to grab it, and say YES! 

And I certainly did. Before I knew it I was crashing snowmobiles in Sweden, experiencing The Shining effect first hand in Finland, and after I finished my contract – experiencing the raw natural beauty of the Norwegian Fjords first hand.

The work was often not pretty; six day weeks, with long hours – and if my boss was ever pissed off he would make me scrub toilets for an ungodly amount of time…but still…huski racing? The Northern Lights? Spending a night in an igloo? You can’t tell me that wasn’t worth it. 

For my next major trip, I was off to South Korea! I scraped together the last of my meager savings – put up with the horrendous visa process…and then went on my way!

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And I couldn’t have asked for more! Yet again I was flown out at my employer’s expense, provided with a cosy home to stay in for free, and continue to live very comfortably – whilst also having an amazing time, with some amazing kids, in a truly amazing country! And, using Korea as a base, I have been able to save very efficiently, which allows for a great many adventures; including a  Christmas trip to Vietnam,  an interesting excursion to North Korea’s border, a heat-stricken jaunt to Nepal…back home to England, and Scotland – then on to Italy, Hungary, and Austriathen…well, you get the picture – the world suddenly doesn’t seem as hugely inaccessible as it once did!

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You see it’s not difficult, you just make it difficult. If you really want to travel, like really, really want to…then be willing to work, and be willing to take every opportunity. Rich, or not – you’ll get there – so stop just posting random sunset photographs, with “W A N D E R L U S T” etched over them, and start planning that next trip…and start filling up your passport, and with it your little book of memories. 

~

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A-Z Of Our Lives…

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Here is a quick run down of the average person’s life…in the form of an A to Z…

A – ‘A’ is for alien; as we were all once part of this weird science fiction scene were we grew inside another person, took sustenance from all they ate until we were ready, and then thrust ourselves into this new and unknown galaxy…weird, right?

B – “B’ is for bare faced lies…as no one likes to admit that recently born babies look like red faced Popeyes that literally have no idea what the hell is going on, (probably because they don’t, obviously.)

C – ‘C’ is for cute…because, well, admittedly…most of us get there eventually, with our chubby bulldog cheeks and fat bootys (for some reason it’s okay for strangers to mention this – I mean, no wonder babies have low self-esteem…)

D – ‘D’ is for diahorrea…yeah, deal with it…because you know the kid isn’t going to.

E – ‘E’ is for expected, like “I expected it would be a good thing when he/she started talking – but now I have a never ending headache, and due to all the weird questions I get asked, I realize in fact I know nothing about this world at all!”

F – ‘F’ is for “I’ll flip you – heads – you have the birds and the bees talk, tails – I do it.”

G – ‘G’ is for grown-ups; and that moment as you are ‘growing up’ when you realize the entire concept isn’t even a real thing – everyone is just kinda wandering around doing things, and going places – hoping it will all work out in the end…

H – ‘H’ is for “how cool would it be if, rather than have to decide what we want to do, a random  long lost wealthy Uncle came out of nowhere and gave me a massive inheritance, so all I had to do was hang out with friends and eat things for the rest of my days!?”

I – ‘I’ is for “I actually have to work? Fuck, this is awful. I miss childhood already.”

J – ‘J’ is for “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST?! I HAVE TO PAY HOW MUCH IN TAXES?! CAN I JUST OPT OUT OF ALL THE STUFF THE TAX MONEY PROVIDES?!”

K – ‘K’ is for “Kids are the last thing on my mind – I want to get my career on the right path first…”

L – ‘L’ is for “look everyone – we’re pregnant – I couldn’t be happier, wooooo!” (Cries inside.)

M – ‘M’ is for “maybe if I just pretend I have everything under control people will believe me…okay…I’ll join a yoga class…and a…book club…that’s what real grown-ups do, right?

N – ‘N’ is for “never in a million years did I think I would go jogging and basically cut out all  unhealthy food…apparently I’ll die twenty years earlier if I don’t…but…err…cake…just one slice won’t change anything…”

O – ‘O’ is for “Oh, God! Why are you so cruel? I thought we agreed I would be the hip and trendy parent? But apparently using the words ‘hip and trendy’ in the first place makes me unfathomably embarrassing to my kids…what has happened to me?! Is this punishment for me wearing Crocs that one summer?”

P – ‘P’ is for “Phew, I can’t wait till they leave home – they have taken everything I once had, my money, my youth, my passions, they’ve left me a hollow burnt out husk. Maybe…just maybe…I can return to my early 20s once they’re gone…”

Q – ‘Q’ is for “question – how old do I have to be before I get one of those cool mobility scooters? No…I don’t need one…I just want one…fine, I’ll come back in ten years…”

R – ‘R’ is for railing…as eventually you find yourself needing to use that railing on the stairs…and forcing out an “AHH-FF” with every step…“AHH-FF”, “AHH-FF”, “AHH-FF”…”should have taken the elevator.”

S – ‘S’ is for spending time with your Grandchildren – and delighting in being loved for spoiling them, aka annoying their parents by giving them everything you know they’re not allowed ordinarily!

T – ‘T’ is for “too many daytime dramas, not enough time!”

U – ‘U’ is for understand “I don’t understand the kids of today…and I don’t fucking want to!”

V – ‘V’ is for Viagra…or “very limp penis.” Your choice.

W – ‘W’ is for “well at least I can get away with saying just about whatever I like…”

X – ‘X’ is for xylophone…like, “why does it feel like some horrible bastard is playing the xylophone all over my body…but instead of little sticks they are playing it with baseball bats? Argh! My back…Argh! My knees…Argh! The inside of my eyeball itches…God, I am so over this life.”

Y – ‘Y’ is for, “YOU YOUNG WHIPPER SNAPPERS! I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH MY DAY SO I AM GOING TO TAKE STRANGE JOY IN RUINING YOURS, GIMMME THAT BALL! I’LL TRADE YOU THIS FOR A VIAL OF YOUR YOUTHFUL BLOOD! COME ON HAND IT OVER! I NEED IT MORE THAN YOU! I’M DYYYYYYING!”

Z – ‘Z’ is for zwieback…which is (apparently) a slice of sweet raised bread that is baked until it is hard and crispy…okay fine, I didn’t have anything for ‘Z’…but hopefully your life was, errr, sweet…and not too hard.

Scratch that, that’s shit…instead hopefully you are riding a flying zebra in the afterlife…wow, yeah – that sounds good, can’t wait for that one actually…that’s a great way to end things!

Of course I am just joking around…there is much more to life than this…but life is short; so get out there, and fill your pages with love, happiness and terrific memories…I mean, it’s not like you get a re-write!

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