Silly me – A post on travel planning blunders

Readers, I have a confession to make.

I have a blaring problem when I plan things.

I run out of money.

I kinda suck when it comes to budgeting for something. It is something I am improving on, but I am as good with money as Mister Poe from Mulctuary Money Management is with keeping the Baudelaire Orphans safe. Or his mouth shut.

Because of my setup with money thus far in my life, I have created a belief that I don’t have to work for money. That it will come to me just for asking. My father, for better or for worse has been very generous in supporting me. This is great in that I have had security in having my needs met. However, take his support away and I am penniless, like a duck. Since ducks don’t have jobs, silly! Even Scrooge McDuck. Gosh how did that duck get all that money without a job!

Even as an entrepreneur (in fact, especially as an entrepreneur) I am responsible for my own bank balance.

So I have created a lesson to share when it comes to travel planning, as well as an apology and a safety-planning related lesson.

Lesson 1: Be honest with your costs and ability to pay for your trip.

It is so easy to get all dreamy-eyed over a cheap flight ticket. To see that “YES! I can afford the ticket! Colombia here I come!” but lose sight of your expenses in the interim.

Or ignore a leg of your trip because it’s not your highlight and if you included the applicable costs, you’d be under water budget-wise.

But numbers don’t lie

But numbers don’t lie. If you have less than you need, or pay more than you planned, you will run out of money eventually.

Don’t be caught in the middle of nowhere without a parachute because you didn’t plan.

Still one of the coolest action movie clips of all time.

Some travelers travel on the road, taking waiter jobs, hotel jobs and other temporary employment to pay for food and lodging. I sent out about 30 resumes and cold-called at least 10 places once I ran out of money. I got some bites, and could have probably pulled it off, especially since I worked two days for Postmates and earned $115 (enough for 2 weeks of food in Colombia.) But I opted for the future-oriented route and returned to school this semester.

So the last couple days I gathered up my financial aid and returned to school to finish my degree. That way in the future I’ll have more security if and probably when I fall into the same position, but I’ll be at the front of the line for most jobs with my degree.

Also I am seeking a remote position (or office position with lots of travel) to pay the bills once I graduate Rutgers with my Computer Science degree. Either in software engineering or graphic design, so I’d ideally be making money on the road and creating an income with this blog 😉

Lesson #2: When visiting a place with questionable safety, do your research, but only listen to experiences from people with similar gender and nationality to yourself.

I need to issue a public apology for this article I wrote (link). It shows Colombia as a lawless area with no sense of safety or law.

The truth is I don’t know what Colombia is like

The truth is I don’t know what Colombia is like. I am planning to move the trip to this summer if all goes well, but I have never set foot in the country. My parents, my Dad in particular, shared with me their concern for my safety, especially with all the cartel-related kidnappings in the area. My lawyer uncle shared with me the legal state in the area – corrupt judges, corrupt juries, and police working with the cartels to swindle tourists.

While this may all be true, they were speaking from a different perspective. One of protection for a loved one. If you ask your family for advice to travel to a dangerous (or perceived as dangerous) place, most likely their advice will be “Don’t go! It’s dangerous, you need to stay safe.”

So I asked my friends. I knew a friend who was IN Colombia and I reached out to her. She relayed back that while there is crime, I should be fine, after asking some locals. A few other friends echoed the same, including a friend who is from Bolivia and a couple who have visited the area before.

I came to the conclusion that it’s easy to fear conflict when every event is blasted on international news channels. I recalled my trip to Israel and my week alone in Tel Aviv. I was halfway across the world on my own in a foreign country near the largest conflicts of the world and I didn’t speak the language.

But I had 0 problem. I had absolutely no safety issues, even when walking around Tel Aviv at night. 0. Zip. Nada. And my family was just as afraid for me as they were for Colombia.

Washington D.C. has the highest murder rate per capita of anywhere in in the United States. But I have survived nightlife without even a scratch, despite having a few drinks myself and walking outside of well-lit areas at times with my family and friends.

Matthew Karsten from Expert Vagabond traveled to Afghanistan. While he had safety concerns and knew how to work around them and he completed the trip successfully.

The safety of any area is often inaccurately reported.

The safety of any area is often inaccurately reported. There are too many political or even unconscious emotional motives to portray a place as more safe or more dangerous than it really is. The only sure-fire way to predict the safety of an area is to talk to someone of similar nationality, age and gender in the area you wish to visit.

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