Choosing Figs | Neurotic as Hell | A Travel, Lifestyle, and Life List Blog

How I didn’t save for my ’round the world trip.

I hate when people ask me how long I’ve been saving for my around the world trip. It’s not their fault, it’s just one of many in a string of basic questions to ask when you’ve found out that someone has quit their job to travel the world.

Where are you going? Why did you decide to do this? When are you leaving? How long will you be gone? How long have you been saving?

Often, the question is phrased more as a statement: “you must have saved for a long time.”

My usual response is to just mumble a “yeah” or “a long time” and nod my head and leave it at that.

Travel is expensive and to leave your only source of income to do something that costs a lot of money is a double whammy. So of course people want to know.

But it’s hard to answer. Because I didn’t really save.

Sure when I was living with my parents I managed to put some money away (part of which dwindled when I moved and needed furniture and other such things). Sure, for a while, I managed to cut back on my Starbucks addiction (but that lately has come back with full force). Sure I started tracking my expenses and trying to spend less money and cutting back here and there. Sure I had two garage sales (and a third one coming) to make money and pare down my belongings.

But I also cook steaks and buy my lunch daily and have a room full of storage boxes and am drinking a Caribou hot chocolate as I write this.

So here it is. My dad passed away from cancer a year and a half ago and afterwards I got a check from his life insurance company.

The money isn’t enough to retire on or anything but just enough to either put a down payment on a condo or travel the world for a year and still have a good cushion in savings.

I chose to travel.

I’m not saying in any way that this was an easy way to fund my travels. I would happily eat ramen for lunch and probably wouldn’t even be so addicted to those $5 white mochas that are, many days, the only thing that entice me out of bed in the morning. I would happily sell all of my possessions. I would happily do anything to turn back time.

But that I can’t do.

So I have this money. And I want to do something amazing with it. I’d been thinking about taking this trip well before he died. And, when he did, it made it seem all the more important that I take it. When he was diagnosed with cancer, when his mouth hurt so much that a man who lived for food couldn’t eat, he started making a list of all the restaurants he wanted to go to when he got better. And then they removed his teeth and his tongue and we knew he’d never get a chance. He was only 61 when he passed. 61. If I were to die at 61 that would make me now exactly middle aged. And I don’t want to have lists of undone things left.

So I hate when people ask me how long I’ve been saving. Because I don’t want to lie but I don’t want to go into it. Because I don’t want to trivialize things. Because just because someone hands you a check doesn’t make it easy money.

So I will probably just continue to nod and continue to say that it took “a long time.”

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Julia
    June 17, 2011at9:22 am

    I actually had tears in my eyes reading this. It is great that you are using that money to do something you really want to do. I got some inheritance money from my Grandma when she died and unfortunately had to use most of it to fund living in a house I didn’t want so that I didn’t get behind on my bills. Luckily I have now sold that house but it saddens me that I only have a little of that money left. I was determined that it would form the foundations of my savings for a RTW trip though, because after all if you have to lose someone from your life, you should at least get to enjoy yours as much as you can in their honour.

  • dani
    June 17, 2011at9:43 am

    My godmother/aunt/woman who helped raise me when my parents were young and poor and both had to work full time jobs. I very unexpectidly received a small amt of money.

    Exactly like you said, enough for a down payment on a cheap condo…or a good chunk for a trip. I’m investing in myself and following my dream to become a cultural/travel photographer.

    I lie too (mostly). I never tell people how much I inherited. If I say anything at all (and that’s just to friends), I downplay the amt to 1000 or 2. I still need to save more (and have a couple garage sales myself), but I also feel like people will think less of my trip if they know how its (mostly) funded.

    I was saving the money I got for something my godmother would be proud of; and I know she’d be proud of me using it to follow my dream (and her sister and brother confirmed my thought…I had to ask them to make sure).

    I would 100% rather still have my godmother with me then just a check; but I also feel this is her way of always reminding me how much she loves me…everything to do with this trip does, and will, always make me think of her.

    And its really nice to know I’m not the only one who is not saving for years to go on a trip. I’ve worked for 2 years to become debt free (yea!)…this inheritence just allows me to do something I was aiming for anyway, just more quickly.

  • Katie
    June 17, 2011at11:06 am

    Oh Val, I got chills reading this. I am so sorry to hear about your dad, I had no idea. Now I get why this was so emotional for you to write.

    I’m sure your dad would be very proud and excited for the journey you’re about to take and will be with you along the way.

  • Jen
    June 17, 2011at10:44 pm

    Val, I’m sure your dad is super proud of you. Go out and take the world! This post really made me start thinking about my dad. He lost his mom 2 years before I was born, and I realized today that would have made him 27 when she passed away. His dad died about 10 years later. I had never put much thought into it until now as I never met my grandma and I was too little when my grandpa was gone to think about what it meant to him.

  • Ali
    June 18, 2011at2:54 pm

    Val, I cried my way through this post. I’m so sorry about your dad! I’m sure he would be so happy you’re using the money to do something so important to you.

  • Toni
    June 20, 2011at7:05 am

    Aww Val you can really hear the emotion and feeling in this post. I’m sure your dad would have been so happy to know that you are getting out into the world with his help and that he’s taking caring of you from above.
    Just reminds you that there is more to life and you should grab every opportunity whilst you can.

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.