I was having a conversation with a good friend recently about some of the places I had visited and how much she wanted to do the same, but in the same breath she dropped the remark that ‘she just couldn’t travel as much as I have’. To be honest with you I don’t travel around the world that much these days. Siu On and I have limited our travels to within Australia for the last few years, and even then, mostly to within the State that we’re in. And although I understood the reasons why she couldn’t travel and I could also easily poke holes in her alibi, but instead of berating her with the usual un-sexy budgetary and YOLO advice, I shared with her some of the things that we have been doing to sate our inability to travel far and wide.
Get stuck into hobbies
Our hobbies have been our saving grace to get through those weekends when we wish we were rushing off to the airport. Instead we’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with different hobbies to see what we like and where it takes us. For example, Siu On and I were already into rock climbing and camping, and found ourselves already heading down to Jervis Bay to climb at Point Perpendicular and camp by the sea a lot; this got us thinking that free diving would be a great warm down activity after a climb and allow us to catch our own dinner.
Since we learned to free dive last year, this hobby has taken us all along the norther NSW coast and has become a really fun activity that we look forward to on our weekends. And if you don’t have a hobby, then start trying some out and see what sticks and where you’ll go with it.
Go on a road trip
The humble road trip is such an underrated budget travel experience, and one that I learned to embrace when Siu On and I made the long drive from Perth to Sydney. Road trips are something that you can do with people or without, and you are at complete freedom to choose where and when you stop along the way (and whatever tunes you want to drive to!).
Siu On and I have done a number of road trips around NSW with a recent one out to Canberra where we stopped for the most amazing vanilla slice in Bowral, ate pies in Goulburn and then filled up on coffee and donuts in Canberra. Bonus points if you take a different route to the one you left on. This was how I discovered a lot of cool spots back home in WA, sometimes I’d just drive in a direction for a couple of hours and see where it took me! I guarantee that you will find a lot of new gems along the way.
Have fun in the outdoors with camping
No two campsite are the same! And if you don’t like camping, there’s always glamping or you can booking yourself into self contained accommodation to suit your level of luxury. Camping is a great way to detox from our regimented and electronic lifestyles, with no access to wifi there is no compulsive social media checking, and no access to usual conveniences makes you problem solve on the fly (eg trying to figure out how to open a can with no pull ring and no can opener). I’ve also found that Siu On and I sleep better after a weekend out camping, and we feel a lot less stressed when we return to the city. This can be a very inexpensive option if you share fuel and food costs with a friend(s), borrow camping gear and look for free camping options.
Boost your brain with learning
If you can’t go on a road trip, and camping is really not your thing, then try doing a course on a topic that interests you. Heck it could even be something that will help you when you DO visit the place you’re dreaming about, like learning a language! Short courses are a good way to make you feel useful and while away those spare days. Just this year I’ve learned how to do pottery, shibori and started learning Swedish.
Start planning and saving for that elusive trip
If none of these things helps you fend off the travel bug, then there’s only one option: start planning and saving. When we were back in the USA in 2014 we met up with one of Siu’s old college friends who kept telling us that she wished she could do what we were doing and we told her that unless she started taking tangible steps, she would never do it. That day she sat down and wrote out a budget and allocated $20 of her pay each week as a minimum towards her dream trip. It’s now three years later but she actually did make that trip. Start small with your savings and start planning for it and then you can stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will’.
A lot of the time, we don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on an overseas trip to get away from whatever our version of normal is, and that experience can be as little effort as driving three hours away to a cottage in nature, or a six week course learning a skill that you do when you get to the place you’re dreaming about.
And I’ll leave you with one other piece of advice if you’re lamenting your lack of air miles; don’t ever compare! Comparing will only make you focus on your ‘what not’s’ and make you feel pretty crappy, when instead you should be focusing on making do with what you have and turning it into a positive experience.
Stay safe and happy travels,
Jelena and Siu On
Photography by Jelena Auyeung.