25 Things I Thought I Would Have Achieved by 25

This one’s ALL ABOUT ME.

On the eve of my 25th birthday, I can’t help but think about what “25” has symbolized to me in the decade leading up to it. For the many of you thinking “But you’re still so young!” – think of it from my perspective: this is the oldest I’ve ever been! My intention here is not to whine, but to remark on the perception of “25” I have held for most of my teens and early 20’s. The long and short of it is, in my mind, I feel like I should already be more of a grown up!

The 25 Things I Thought I Would Have Achieved by 25:

1. An Adult Job

I have had a lot of difficulty with getting jobs in the past year, as documented by this post.

Perhaps this was naïve of me, but I always thought that by 25 I would have a decent grasp on what I wanted to do – or at least be on the path towards some sort of greatness.

Instead I have felt more often like Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. 

Except he, at least, gets interviews.

rejection-letter

2. Irresistible Good-Looks

Ok, so this is absolutely naïve, but every time in my early twenties I ate half a cake, or decided to have nachos for dinner AGAIN, I always thought to myself, “This is ok, when I’m older I’ll know better and I’ll be fit and sexy.” That hasn’t happened yet. Also, subjectivity plays a heavy hand, as I’m beginning to learn.

Photo on 13-09-08 at 2.39 PM #3

3. A Life

I have had a life in the past. When I moved countries twice and I think I must have dropped it out the window over the Atlantic Ocean. I’m not a strong enough swimmer to go looking for it, so I have to start from scratch. As a 25 year-old, back living with my parents, with a lot of student debt and low income, this feels like a daunting task. But the process has happily begun!

4. My Own Place

I am so lucky to have the parents I have. I love them, and if they hadn’t offered to house me during this period of my life, I would have been stuck in Edinburgh at my terrible job that was sucking out my soul. But at this point in my life, I thought I would at least be independent enough to have my own place.

5. Love

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You can’t hurry love, no, you just have to wait.

6. Independence

This requires many ingredients. One of which is money.

7. Financial Stability and Debt-Free Status

I think this goes hand-in-hand with the desire for an adult-job, or maybe it will never be? I worked so much the past year, especially in Edinburgh, and it made me even more financially unstable than I ever have been. It was a terrifying glimpse into how some people (which could still include me I suppose) live their whole lives. I don’t know why, but I thought my student loans would just magically disappear with all the money I was going to suddenly come into.

Most awful and pajama-looking uniform ever!

Most awful and pajama-looking uniform ever!

8. The Perfect Wardrobe

I expected to have a perfect grasp of what I look good in, in synthesis with current trends. I still, however, occasionally commit fashion faux-pas!

9. Freedom

Again, this has a bit to do with money. Specifically, I would love to have a car and just be able to drive wherever, whenever.

This would be good too.

This would be good too.

10. Happiness

I understand now that happiness isn’t something you ‘achieve’. It’s not an equation: a + b = happiness; happiness is fluid and constantly in flux from day to day, hour to hour. I believe “being happy” means that your flux remains in the happiness range more often than not – that is a good place to be. I want to go to there.

11. More Travel

I suppose that would require money. Or I need to take my own budget travel advice. I guess I can wait!

12. A Reclaimed Youth

Actually, I guess this HAS happened a bit…

13. Stability

 This will come – I hope!

14. Better Habits

Waking up earlier, eating less cheesy popcorn, watching less tv. These things are in the early stages of happening. Also, the past 3 months I’ve written a weekly To-Do list. I know I’m capable of a lot in very little time, but I’m one of the most lazy and scatterbrained people I know. A To-Do list helps focus me.

15. Acceptance of Mortality and Old-Age

I put this on my To-Do list last week. I wasn’t able to check it off.

16. Perfect Health

I have started eating much healthier (except for the cheesy popcorn) and it feels amazing! My insides sing and I don’t feel heavy or bloated as often. Health is a fluid state and can never really be “achieved” without continuous maintenance (and lots of fluids – ha). But I could certainly have it much worse!

 17. Cool Gadgets

Again, a thing remedied by money. However I just got upgraded by my network to a Galaxy s3 so I shouldn’t complain!

 18. A Following

I am very grateful to the handful of people who read my blog. Please continue and share with your friends!!!

19. A Novel

It’s in the works, but I was hoping to have some sort of significant accomplishment in this area by 25.

 20. The Opposite of Loneliness

I have lovely, amazing friends. BUT NONE OF THEM LIVE NEAR ME. I miss them, and I have only just begun to meet people in my new home.

My 23rd birthday

My 23rd birthday in Victoria, BC

 21. Perfect Skin

I’m not a teenager anymore! When do pimples stop??

 22. Even Longer Hair

How long does that shit take to grow?

 23. An Understanding of What My Body Needs

I know I have a gluten issue, but there’s something else ripping my insides to shreds. It better not be dairy or I will cry forever (I love cheese).

24. Success

I have always been fairly successful, and I guess this last year of non-success has brought me off my pedestal. Perhaps that will be a good thing!

 25. An Idea About What to do in My Late-Twenties, and Goals for Thirty

My Identity is largely based in my youth. I KNOW I’m still young, and, for now, I’m grateful for that. Yet, I also know that I have to start thinking of myself as an adult who needs to start planning for the future – or at least thinking about planning for the future! This is a step I’m not sure I’m ready to take, but I’m afraid to avoid it any longer.

I find it funny how we seem to project increased wisdom and general betterness onto our future selves; it always seems to end up being in a different way from what we expect.

I should say that these are all things that are in progress. Even since I started writing this post a several weeks ago, things have begun to turn around! Of course, at the end of this, I have shifted all of these expectations onto “30.” That’s healthy, right?

Budget Travel Tips: 8 Desperate Ways to Finally Afford that Trip

Times are tight. I know it, you know it, we ALL feel it. Many people are opting out of travel altogether. So the question looms: is it still possible to travel on a tight budget?

I would argue that it is almost not.

It isn’t uncommon to see tips on travelling on a budget such as these from Reader’s Digest. Even though these can be valuable for a novice, comfortable traveller to cut down a bit on the overall cost of vacationing, they do not remedy the fact that travel is too expensive for most people these days.

So there’s nothing to do but give up, lock yourself in a dark room, sit in a corner, listen to Coldplay and sulk about your immobilizing debt that prevents you from experiencing life, right?

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That completely depends – how badly do you want it?

If you want it bad enough here are 8 things to consider to maybe, actually, potentially make travel a possibility for those with the dark cloud of financial hardship raining overhead.

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1. Convenience and Comfort? Ha!:

If you have the luxury of being time-and-place-flexible, there are sometimes affordable deals to be had!

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Flying to cool places

Do your research. Look at multiple airlines and their options, check out the budget airlines and where they fly. What time of year is cheapest? Peak-season travel is sickeningly expensive, so look at off-peak flights.

Try Skyscanner– they will give you a good idea of what the cheapest available options are, but do your own poking around too!

Bring only carry-on luggage (preferably a backpack!! For the reasons, see this post). There are many budget airlines in Europe and the UK, but they often charge a significant fee for checked baggage.

IMPORTANT– Speaking of budget airlines: be wary of them! Some do not have assigned seating and will OVERBOOK their flights ON PURPOSE in order to make more money (*cough* Ryan Air *cough*), and they count on the fact that someone won’t show up or will be late. ARRIVE EARLY, and be aggressive when boarding. You’re welcome.

One of the biggest expenses when travelling is food. The best way to cut down your food budget is to grocery shop rather than eat at restaurants or pubs. In the UK, for example, many shops have a £3 “meal deal” where you get a sandwich, bag of chips and a drink. Not the healthiest way to sustain yourself abroad, but certainly one of the cheapest!

2. Scrap Your List of Destinations:

If you have considered travel, ever, you probably have a mental list of the top places you’d like to visit. Murphy’s Law demands that these will likely be the most expensive places to get to. Throw it out. Embrace the possibility of new places!

For example, Brussels is somewhere I never expected to go, but I enjoyed it! (Not exactly a dirt cheap example, but the best personal one I have!)

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If I hadn’t gone to Brussels, I wouldn’t have seen street art like this:

What?

What?

Or this:

WHY?!

WHY?!

If, during your travels, you are lucky enough to find yourself nearby a more expensive destination that you MUST see (for example, Paris is a popular and pricey place to lust after), then spend as little time there as possible. 2-3 days is sufficient to explore a city-centre by foot.

3. Terrible Transportation:

Direct flights are lovely, but awful meandering ones are generally cheaper. Decide how much savings your time and physical comfort is worth (if you can’t bare the thought of embarking on a 1-2 day flight-hopping spree when the direct flight is 8-hours or less, you don’t want it badly enough).

Also, flights that leave at horrible times like 4am are generally cheaper than pleasantly-timed flights.

"Friends Fare" is a thing in the UK... if you have 3 friends. No more, no less.

A “Friends Fare” discount is a thing on UK trains… if you have 3 friends. No more, no less.

If you are ‘on the road’ and travelling from city to city, there are multiple options available to you (especially in Europe). There are flights, trains, coaches and…. BUSSES. Pick the bus that takes about ten times longer to get to your destination than any other method of transportation, and it’s likely the cheapest.

I once took a city-style bus in England from Exeter to Poole (a distance that should take less than 2 hours by car, but took over 5 hours by bus – with no stops!!! How is that even possible?!). City-style bus means NO TOILET… again, with no stops. It was an excruciating journey. This should be illegal – but at a fraction of the cost of the train, it was the only option in my range of affordability.

When in a location, WALK EVERYWHERE. Transportation within cities is so expensive, especially to and from airports. Use it as little as possible.

You can find some of the most beautiful places just by walking!

You can find some of the most beautiful places just by walking!
Arthur’s Seat Summit, Edinburgh

4. Travel with a Buddy:

Try to find a friend to go with that is in the same situation (or at least very open minded). This can be a challenge, but in the end you can both save money than if you were alone. Of course, the simplest reason for this is room-sharing, but also watching each other’s backs.

The biggest savings when travelling with a buddy (and I hate to say this) is HITCHHIKING. As a woman, I would never hitchhike alone. As a snobby person, I would never hitchhike at all. If you play it safe, however, you can get far on very little money. A friend of mine recently admitted their travels included a lot of hitchhiking, and this warmed me to the idea. Use common sense and be picky – don’t put yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, and don’t hitch at night! Check out these tips.

5. Consider Long-Term Travel:

Find work, meet people, couch surf, move on.

For positive and real-life tales of SUCCESSFUL long-term EXTREME budget travel, check out the supremely cool Wandering Earl! He’s much more experienced at all of this than I am!

Earl, wandering.

Earl, wandering. My lil’ bro met up with him on his travels and he’s apparently a really cool guy 🙂

6. No Partying OR Partying for Board:

Choose one of these things. If you have all of your accommodation booked in advance, no alcohol, no partying. If not, choose bars and clubs with no cover fee, and then meet as many people as possible to find an available couch!!

I have never partied to find a place to crash... it sounds dangerous.

I have never partied to find a place to crash… it sounds dangerous.

7. Forfeit the Tourist Attractions:

CN Tower, Toronto: $32- $89cnd

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Eiffel Tower, Paris: €15

I thought seeing it from the ground was good enough!

I thought seeing it from the ground was good enough!

Big Ben, London: £15

This is not the tower of London, but it's a nice picture.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, but these admission prices could also be your food budget for a day or two! Save it for when you’re rich.

8. Hostels vs. Hotels:

Hostels can be hit or miss. Again, do you research! I use hostelworld.com and have never been disappointed. Look the cheapest available of course, but use the Internet to check where the hostels are located so you aren’t booking something in the middle of nowhere.

A small but very good hostel.

A small but very good hostel.

Normally the more beds in a dorm the cheaper it will be per night… so mentally prepare for 12 other people ruining your sleep schedule, coming to bed at 4am, getting up at 6am etc. Bring earplugs.

Don’t assume hostels will be cheaper than hotels. Of course, they normally are, but when my lil’bro and I recently went to Paris, we booked a one-star hotel, as it was cheaper than Parisian hostels. There’s an option on Hostelworld for hotels.

It’s very important before booking a hostel to read some of the customer reviews. Hostelworld is great for accurate reviews! If the reviews terrify you, don’t book the hotel. It’s usually fairly obvious when someone has just had a bad experience, ie. noisy streets on a weekend (duh), people drunkenly having sex or masturbating in the same dorm, loud snoring – these things aren’t the hostel’s fault. Bring earplugs. BRING EARPLUGS.

Check for bedbugs when you arrive, then forget about how awful the rest of it is.

HOW DOES THAT SOUND?

Does thinking about these things give you a tingle of excitement? Or does it inject fear and bitterness into your beautiful dreams of travel?

Do YOU have what it takes to be an extreme-budget traveller?

Enjoy your travels, be they desperately budget or gloriously comfortable, because travel is the best and most enjoyable education.