Hey everyone! I’m back from my crazy two-week vacation. My goodness it was glorious. A few days before my vacation, I was driving myself crazy with all the work I had to do that it hardly seemed worth it. I wanted to throw my computer in the trash and just go run and hide.

Luckily I survived πŸ˜‰ And it paid off. For two weeks, I spent time in Madrid, Nerja, Malaga, Gibraltar and Lisbon. I got to see my friend who is teaching in Spain and it was so great to relax on the beach with her and just enjoy life.

I feel like a completely new person from this vacation. The trip really illuminated some things for me about what I want in my life and what I don’t — and how I want to go forward.

I have some juicy posts coming up about my big plans and also the nitty-gritty on how much I spent (hint: I spent less money than the value of my round trip flight).

But today I want to bask in the glory of travel and remember why exactly I love it so much — and why I encourage you to go deeper and seek other skies than the ones you call home.

Traveling abroad can be a wonderful and disorienting experience. It disrupts your routine and immerses you in a way of life completely different from your own. In my case, I felt more at home in Spain than I do in Portland. I loved eating dinner at 9pm and going out at midnight. I enjoyed long walks and espresso and a slower pace. I was reminded that the point of living is not to just work. There is so much more to life and so much of the world to discover.

During this trip I had several “good” cries. I simply felt overwhelmed with happiness, the beauty of art, the strange yet comforting feeling of being somewhere new, yet feeling totally at home. It’s been a minute since I’ve had a “good” cry. I’m used to the depressed cry, the stressed cry, or the-whole-world-is-caving-in-on-me cry — those are shadows of myself that sit on the sidelines, waiting for an opportune moment, but I try to keep them at bay.

But the good cry felt so good. I probably looked like an insane person walking down the streets of Lisbon, crying from aΒ  beautiful church, and just giggling at myself at how ridiculous I looked.

I felt happy. I felt like I was taking care of myself. For the first time this year, I wasn’t glued to the computer for 60+ hours a week. I got actual sunlight instead of the deceptive glare of my computer.

It was so refreshing. This trip has really got me thinking. Ya’ll know I’m all about the hustle. Hustling is my MO and just part of my DNA. But I’m starting to realize we glorify hard work to a gross degree. We act like it’s okay to work until you pass out, live on your computer and phone, and always “be on”.

I don’t think it’s right. We need to take time to practice self-care and not get caught up in the productivity propaganda. In the States I feel like I’m always fed this constant jargon of be productive, wake up early, blah blah blah. You know what? People in other countries don’t necessarily live like this and I think they enjoy life a lot more (personal observation).

I’m ready to lay down my badge of workaholism and really try to focus on me — meditate, exercise, read, rest, and have time to do “nothing”. I am so uncomfortable with doing nothing, which is exactly why I need to practice sitting still with myself and rejuvenating.

Another great thing about this trip was that it was completely confidence boosting. Although I did go see a friend in Spain for a few days, the majority of my trip I was alone. No boyfriend, no family, no other friends. There was just something about traveling by myself, navigating a new country, speaking and stumbling in another language, that made me feel confident. If I can travel the world by myself and turn out just fine, why can’t I do other things?

That’s not to say that traveling alone was easy. I can’t tell you how many times I got lost, there was a miscommunication, or an awkward encounter. But as I found myself wandering the streets, with no real direction, not knowing where I was or where I was going, I felt strength in feeling lost — I knew I’d find my way again. You always do. It felt like the perfect allegory for life and my business.

Sometimes I wonder “Where the hell am I going with this? What am I doing?” but I have to remember that I always find my way.

So, I’m back and ready to work. But also to take care of me, too. I urge you to take care of yourself as well. Work will be there. I promise you when you are on your death-bed, you won’t be thinking, “I wish I would have worked more!”

Tell me. What will you do for yourself this week? When is your next vacation?

p.s. check out some of my photos from the trip on Instagram.


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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28 responses to “Why I Don’t Regret Traveling Even Though I’m In Debt”

  1. Kirsten says:

    I love reading about other people’s hustles! I do admire the work and dedication and I love the flexibility. But what I’ve come to realize in the last year is that it isn’t for me. I make very high 5-figures a year… And I’ve done that by working 40-45 hrs a week with a smudge of flexibility. Could I make more hustling? Yes, I could. But I want to have a life. And I don’t want to completely work it away. Kudos to you for your realization on your trip. You sound empowered!
    Kirsten recently posted…How To Lower Your Student Loan PaymentMy Profile

  2. MJ says:

    Excellent post. I agree. I was just talking about this very problem: when the hustle gets in the way of having a life. It’s so true, and I really like how you’ve stated it.

    We don’t talk about it enough, especially in the personal finance blogosphere. At what point do we relax a little?
    MJ recently posted…Work to Live, Already: The Downside of Side Hustlin’My Profile

  3. Sounds like you got a much needed break! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.
    Robin @ The Thrifty Peach recently posted…Why I Quit My Job (In Pictures)My Profile

  4. Mrs. FI says:

    Melanie, it’s so wonderful you got to experience traveling abroad and what the different cultures have to offer in terms of diversity and lifestyles! I actually studied abroad in Spain for a semester in college a few years ago and that country is definitely, and always will be, one of my favorite places. I love how they choose to take the time to appreciate life and just “be” instead of working all day. I mean, they still implement siestas in the middle of the work/school day in parts of the country! That’s my kind of place πŸ˜‰

    Anyway, I’m glad you were able to find confidence as well as a new outlook on life – AND remind me that I need to travel again! Looking forward to your follow up posts about your travels!
    Mrs. FI recently posted…Cooking Fresh, For a Family of TwoMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I studied in Madrid NINE years ago for a short part of summer and it was overwhelming and life-changing. It was nice to go back for the first time. You should definitely travel more!

  5. Kara says:

    Your trip sounds special on so many levels! I’m glad to hear you had a great time! Our next vacation is in July in the middle of nowhere Maine πŸ™‚
    Kara recently posted…8 Simple Ways to Transform Boxed BrowniesMy Profile

  6. Chonce says:

    Glad to hear that you had an amazing vacation. This just means that you need to do it more often πŸ™‚ I agree that we could all benefit from practicing self care more often. I’m one of those people who just keeps adding on to my to-do list and pushing my limit and it’s a really bad habit.
    Chonce recently posted…Valuable Lessons From My Telemarketing JobMy Profile

  7. THIS POST. I love it πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you had an amazing trip and did a great job taking care of yourself while you were off on your adventures! It’s such an awesome feeling when you gain a lot of clarity on what you want and how you should be living to get it.
    Kali @ XY Planning Network recently posted…Good Financial Reads: Dealing with Student Loans, Savings Procrastination, and MoreMy Profile

  8. That’s awesome you had a great vacation! I’m really looking forward to a trip overseas (my first) and getting to see things that I only have seen in pictures. Life is too short to be waiting around till all the debt is gone and neither of us is getting any younger.
    Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life recently posted…Why I’m Maxing Out My Roth IRA Every MonthMy Profile

  9. Glad to hear you had such an amazing time Melanie! Vacations are so cathartic and can recharge those batteries!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…5 Essential Tips For FreelancingMy Profile

  10. I LOVE this Melanie!!! There is nothing greater than a new experience, especially one that gives you the good cries. We work too hard every day to not stop and take in the beauty of all of that hard work, and I’m glad that you had the opportunity to do it!

  11. Andrea says:

    I love Spain! My husband and I traveled there last August. We visited Barcelona, Seville, Nerja, Granada and Madrid. Travel is one of my biggest passions and why I choose to save on other things in my life. So many people tell me that they wished they could go to Europe or some exotic locale then look at me in admiration. I look at them in confusion–they spend their money on designer bags, name-brand jeans and luxury cars. I’m not sure if they understand budgeting or completely lost on what matters most in life. Experiences NOT things! The memories I’ve made from traveling are priceless and will last a lifetime. No Louis Vitton could replace that.

    • Melanie says:

      I love Spain too! It’s such a beautiful country and you went to some awesome places. You and I are sooo on the same page! I hate shopping, I don’t have a car and live a minimalist life. People are shocked I can afford to travel, but I really don’t spend money on most things that others do.

  12. Cat Alford says:

    This sounds amazing and I so enjoyed seeing your pictures while you were there. You rock. Wonder if I can convince hubs to let me vacation on my own hehe because we all know that a vacation with the beans is anything but relaxing.

  13. Shannyn says:

    You are such an inspiration! I want to connect with you sometime about solo travel. I want to go to Thailand and the UK (among other places) but I am so so intimidated by the language barrier in non-English speaking countries…and with travel hacking and all that.

    I just read a book- how to travel on $50 a day and while I know I need to and can get something booked, it just makes my stomach go in knots! If you have recommendations on what I should read to help prep or sites to look at, I’d love your recommendations!!
    Shannyn recently posted…Introducing the Kaiku Card: A Low-Fee Prepaid Debit CardMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, girl! That means a lot to me coming from you πŸ˜‰ You can do it. It seems scary at first, but once you do it, it gets better and easier.

  14. Michelle says:

    I am so happy that you did what was best for you. Every person’s journey is PERSONAL-if you feel that this break would help you to recharge so that you can rock your debt repayment then adios chica!
    Michelle recently posted…What Do You Expect For Yourself?My Profile

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