Does frequent travel conflict with financial well-being?

Dawn fieldPhoto courtesy of Christian Collins

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you’ve no doubt seen me periodically talk about my quest to see one new country a year.

You might find this topic potentially a diversion, even perhaps antithetical, to much of the other topics I talk about. Eliminating debt, building wealth, eliminating the unnecessary financial burdens from your life.

Getting your financial life in order is hard enough, you might think. Isn’t this suggestion to go see the world a little out of place, maybe a little tone-deaf? Might there be a little bit of a brag in there, talking about all that I am able to do that you might not?

All valid concerns. But I will argue that my travel goal, while admittedly quirky, is just as fundamental as any of the other suggestions I offer here.

Allow me to explain.

Why do we pursue financial well-being?

We pursue financial well-being for a feeling of relief. That feeling that “everything is going to be okay.” When you’re living with no financial cushion, you’re living on a cliff edge; all it takes is a gust of wind to blow you over.

So moving yourself to a place far away from harm creates a strong feeling inside you that can not be otherwise created. When you have money, you will feel different than when you don’t.

Also, the debate on whether money can buy happiness has been well-trodden, and I’ll only add that both sides are right. Money can buy happiness, but only up to a point. Once you’ve got all of your needs met and you are comfortable, there’s not a lot more that money can do for you in that department.

Choices

Money does, or rather can, give you choices.

If you can’t afford something, you can’t do it. If you can afford something you can. This means that you can choose whether to do it or not.

This doesn’t simplify your life; it actually increases its complexity. But just because choices increase complexity, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good or bad. Choices are choices.

What will you do with those choices?

There are more than rainy days

I think most people don’t save nearly enough for the proverbial “rainy day”.

But once you’ve gotten to that point where you’re prepared, it’s important to realize that just because rainy days happen, doesn’t mean that every day is a rainy day.

Have you saved for a sunny day?

By this I mean, money is there to be enjoyed too. And it can be enjoyed, to some degree, no matter where you are in your progress. Remember, this is a category you need in your monthly expense tracking.

It can be so easy to think of money as just something that yields security, to in essence go too far in the other direction, that you don’t let yourself experience.

And I love experiences.

One of my favorite kind of experiences is travel. I believe that seeing the world, and the process of getting there, is one of the most joyous and life-affirming things I can spend my money on. It is worth it.

Would I be richer if I didn’t spend any money on travel? Yes. Would I pay off my mortgage faster if I didn’t spend any money on travel? Certainly.

Is that a reason not to travel? Absolutely not.

And so I travel. And I suggest that other get in the game too. How cool if we would leave our own borders for a little while and see what else is out there? Especially us Americans, with two-thirds of us not even owning a passport.

It doesn’t have to be travel, though I think it provides the most bang for your buck, as it were. That’s why I talk about it.

One more country

I’ve already reached my one new country for 2017 (thanks Slovenia!), which makes an unbroken string since I started tracking this in 2013. And now I have a potential location in 2019, or perhaps 2020.

I don’t write travel blogs, because there’s quite enough of that out there. And I’m not sure how interesting that is. I just want you to get out there and go. It’s part of your financial plan, after all.

But enough about me. Would you like to read more or less about travel here?

Mike Pumphrey

Mike Pumphrey

I'm the founder and author of Unlikely Radical, a site to help people succeed with money, achieve their goals, and live intentionally.

I offer a free phone consultation to anyone who is interested in changing their financial narrative. Are you ready? Click here for details.
Mike Pumphrey
Posted on August 31, 2017