More times than I could count, someone has said to me, “Oh, I’d love to take a trip like that, but I could never afford it.”
I always try to explain that there are cheaper ways to travel, if you skip the luxuries, or something to that effect. That’s as true today as it was 50 years ago.
I did most of my overseas travel when I was younger, and we didn’t have kids yet. But I’ll still find a way to go somewhere if I want to get there badly enough. And there are plenty of places I’m intent on seeing, at home and abroad.
So that’s the basic idea. If you really want to go somewhere, you can probably put together a plan to do it, regardless of your financial situation.
Maybe my folks read me too many travel stories when I was a kid. My dad, a travel romantic if ever there was one, told me over and over about Richard Halliburton’s “Royal Road to Romance.” Long out of print, I nevertheless had no problem finding a cheap hardback copy of the travel classic.
Halliburton, an inveterate wanderer, started globetrotting right out of college in the 1920s. Being a good writer, he soon figured out he could recover some or all of his expenses by writing books about his gotta-go-someplace habit.
When you travel and talk to people, you discover that the world has quite a few habitual travelers, and they share stories and techniques. I have come across many who were far from wealthy. This was true long before the Internet, which has only made it easier to indulge the habit.
In the spring of 1960, with a new job at a newspaper in South Carolina, the bug bit hard and I just had to cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary. I read the ads in tiny print in the New York Times and found a dirt-cheap ticket on that legendary vessel. I’d always been able to save money, and coughed up enough for a ticket in the bilge of the big ship, so to speak.
It was just before the coming of cheap international jet travel. Prior to that, if you wanted to cross the oceans, it meant you had to have money or—and this is key here—you had to be willing to skip the luxuries and take whatever level of accommodation was offered.
That trip gave me a template for inexpensive travel and I’ve used it many times since.
If you really want to go there, and you can skip the glamour and luxuries, you will find a way.
As for getting around in the USA, Canada and Mexico, that never took more than a thumb and a duffel bag in the old days. If you had the means, all you needed was a sleeping bag, an old VW and a little gas money. Well, in the Sixties, anyway. I know because I wore out four VW Beetles.
Nowadays, you’ll need a passport to get out of the country, even to Canada or Mexico. If you don’t have one, they’re not that hard to get. Besides, a passport is all but essential these days. Get yours, and you’ll always be ready when the travel bug bites.
Paul Sullivan of Spotsylvania County, a former Free Lance–Star reporter, is a freelance writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.