As I end my fourth month of travel and prepare to begin my fifth straight month of being away from home maybe some of you are wondering how I manage to do it. How can I travel for so long? Or more generically, how ya living?
I think I could answer this question in one word really. Are you surprised? Surely it can’t be that simple. Okay, in some ways I’ll admit it is not, but in the most important way it really is. And what is that one word answer? I’ll get to that later. For now, let’s take a look at how I am living. Do I sleep in the streets under cardboard? Do I eat beans and rice for every meal? Do I walk everywhere I go? The answer to theses questions is a firm NO.
First off, lets look at where I live and how much I pay for it. Currently, I am staying at the Itzamna Spanish School here in Antigua, Guatemala. I’ve stayed in three different rooms here in over two months here. The first month I stayed here I was in probably the nicest room here for exactly 2000 Quetzals per month, or about $270.00 US Dollars. This was a private room with a queen sized bed and private bathroom including a hot water shower. I switched to a different room for a week or two and then to a different room where I am staying now. The room I am in now costs 1500 Quetzals per month, or about $200.00 US Dollars per month. To put that in more easily understood terms, I pay under $7.00 US Dollars per day for my room. In this cheaper room I don’t have my own bathroom. I share three bathrooms down the hallway with 5 other people living here. Two of these bathrooms have hot water showers.
I have plenty of space here for myself and my things. I have a comfortable king sized bed. I have an armoire for my clothes and miscellaneous stuff. I have a desk and chair for reading, writing, and blogging. My room has a nightstand, chair, bookshelf, television, and dvd player.
In addition to my room I also have unlimited free purified water, wi-fi internet usage, and access to a kitchen. In the kitchen is a stove, refridgerator, microwave, and table along with anything else I might need like cutlery, pots, pans, plates, glasses, etc. In the communal living room is a large flat screen TV with DirecTV satellite television with a DVR and paid subscriptions to HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax. Also in the living room is a computer with internet access for anyone that wants to use it, also included in my rent.
So, no I don’t live like I’m homeless at all. In fact most backpackers would probably think I’ve got it pretty good here in Antigua. In some places in the world my life would be considered luxurious, in other places my living conditions would be considered substandard. To me, I am very comfortable here.
I eat out about once a day, and I study Spanish here at the school for 10 hours of class every week. Besides my rent I would say I spend between $15-$25 dollars more per day on average. This includes food, laundry, entertainment, sightseeing, day trips and miscellaneous things like laundry. On average I would guess my daily expenses to be between $25-$35 per day. I could spend less, I could spend a lot more.
So, back to where I started. What is that simple one word answer then? How do I travel for such a long time? That one word is PRIORITY. As simple as that, I have made this trip my number one priority. I saved for it, I planned for it, and I eliminated obstacles in my life to achieve this goal. It wasn’t easy, people and things were standing in my way, but I did it and I continue to make choices that make my dreams possible. Have I achieved everything I wanted to when I was planning this trip? No, but I’ve achieved a lot of my goals and other things that I probably didn’t even think or know about when I left. I made this experience my priority and I stuck to it. I focused on my goals and I made them happen. I put aside my fears and the fears of others and I took a calculated risk to make my life better than it was. I’ve attempted to make myself better and whether or not I am, I feel better just for making that attempt. All because of my PRIORITY and the choices I’ve made to stick to that PRIORITY. By sticking to my goals I’ve been able to travel for so long. Because of this focus I’ve seen a lot of things I never could have without my PRIORITY. I’m achieving my goals, experiencing a different culture and learning a new language that will open more doors.
So, in conclusion I ask you, what is your PRIORITY?