Prepping for long term travel is not the easiest thing but considering the end result, it’s not something to complain about either. It’s both stressful and full of excitement and anticipation. I started the whole prepping thing a little different than some. I’m selling all of my things at the beginning and moving back in with family. It’s a kind of a tease really. I feel like everything’s gone so I should be on my way now, but in reality I have 11 more months to go afterwards. Even this early on though, I can see how just preparing for long term travel has honestly made me a better person.
I’m going to get into something here that not many people know about me and is something I’ve been ashamed of for a long time: I could not say no to credit cards in college. You go shopping at Victoria’s Secret and they ask you if you want their credit card? Well, of course! I need 15,000 pairs of underwear. Then you got all those exciting offers in the mail. And, if anyone is like me, you love getting mail especially when it’s “free” money.
Needless to say, I was in over my head very quickly. It was ugly. So ugly. My mother had to bail me out and pay off all my bills after I got so behind and screwed up my credit ugly. That was seven years ago. I haven’t had one single negative thing on my credit since. However, I was extremely dumb and racked up all my limits again so while that wasn’t considered “negative,” it has just about the same effect on your credit score as not paying your bills. When my marriage ended last year, I had almost $20k in credit card debt…that doesn’t count student loans and a car loan.
So, how has preparing for long term travel changed this? I am almost completely debt free besides student loans and my car loan. I had already started paying these bills off before I started prepping for long term travel, but I really stepped it up once I made that decision. Normally, I’d slip back into my ways, telling myself “Oh, I’ll just put it on the card and pay it off next month.” However, I’ve finally found the motivation to keep myself debt free.
Appreciative of Family
My family is one of the most important things to me and always will be. However, I’ve sucked at priorities in the past. I’ve put boyfriends, events, and anything else I wanted to do more above them. Knowing that I’m going to be leaving next year makes me want to spend as much time as possible with them. It’s going to be difficult juggling a full-time job, a part-time job, my blog, research for my trip, and spending time with everyone, but I’ve realized how important it is to make time for them. I may have to get creative with my time but that’s okay. Photography is a hobby of my mom’s so I’ve already told her I’d like her to come along with me to practice mine as a way for us to spend time together.
Growing up, I wasn’t rich by any means. My mom was a single mother to my brother and I. However, I had everything I needed and a lot of what I wanted. I’ve never been the type that needed really really expensive things, but I wanted a lot of stuff. Needless to say, I have an abundance of clothing, hundreds of DVDs, a desktop and a laptop because, you know, I needed both, brand new furniture, kitchen appliances I never use, and the list goes on and on.
As I’m in the middle of the process of selling things, I find it’s a lot easier to let go of these things knowing what I’m exchanging them for. I don’t need a closet full of clothes that I’ve worn a couple times or three hundred movies that may or may not ever watch again. I don’t buy crap I don’t need anymore either because every time I go to make a purchase, I’m instantly evaluating the amount in terms of traveling. Do I really want I’m buying more than another week in Asia? The answer is usually no.
Appreciation of My Hometown
I remember growing up thinking that Nashville and Tennessee in general was not exciting at all. I honestly thought there was nothing to do around here and I continued to have this feeling even when I moved to Knoxville for college. It really took me moving to Washington state in 2010 to appreciate home. I loved my time spent there but it wasn’t until I moved back that I realized all Tennessee really had to offer.
Even then, I still have put off doing some things because ‘it will always be there.’ It hasn’t been until I made the decision to travel long term that I’ve truly started to appreciate it. I’ve started doing all the things I’ve been planning on doing but never got around to, starting with The Bell Witch Cave.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the type of girl who always was in search of a relationship. I’m sure a psychiatrist could have a field day with me (and that’s coming from a psychology major). While I’ve prided myself on the fact that I can take care of myself and have my own thoughts and beliefs, I’ve also been so co-dependent on boyfriends. Giving up things I wanted in order to do what they wanted, sacrificing my desires and dreams to make theirs come true and so on. In my head, this was not the woman I wanted to be, but I just couldn’t stop.
This year I found myself in yet another one of these relationships. I knew once I had made the decision to pursue this long-awaited dream, that I would have to end things with my boyfriend. He was not the type to support or even listen to what made me happy. It was not an easy thing to do. I didn’t want to be alone. The though of being unhappy forever terrified me more than being alone though. After ending things with him, I’ve learned that I definitely can do things alone and I actually enjoy it. I seek out more meaningful relationships (any kind-not even romantic ones). I realize that while if someone just so happens to realize how amazing I am, that’s great, but that I’m okay going it alone-at least for now.
Author Bio: Ashley is the author of the travel blog, A Southern Gypsy. Having spent the past decade and the majority of her 20’s trying to figure out her life, she has realized what her true passions are. She is in the works of selling off her possessions, saving up money, and planning the opportunity (hopefully, indefinite) of a lifetime. To pass the time before she heads off on her own, she is working on her travel blog, photography skills, and writing about the annoyance of being stuck at home. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.