Is My Travel Habit Irresponsible?

On St. Patrick’s Day, I had one of those overwhelming chuche cravings. I need sweet, tangy gummies or I likely would lose my dinner appetite.

Stopping by the nearest gummy wonderland, I lost my ganas upon seeing a plastic plane with a dog and gumdrops inside. A perfect little gift, really, for my pilot boyfriend whom I call Puppy. I dropped my bag of candy and checked out.

Five minutes later, I had finished heaving up five flights of stairs and presented him with my purchase. He laughed, but told me, “You shouldn’t have wasted your money on something like this, Puppy.” It was only two euros.

Recently, we were talking about our plans for the summer, for life, the usual. He said, “The thing you should do right now is save. If we want to have a family, we need a bigger house, and you need to save in order to be able to have your name on the deed. None of this inviting friends to beers, buying clothes, going on trips. That’s irresponsible.”

Wait, what!!??

Didn’t I move to Europe in the first place to travel and learn languages? Didn’t I adopt the, ‘Get ‘er done’ attitude when it came to speaking Spanish, reaching 25 countries before my 25th birthday, trying new things and meeting new people? And, really, isn’t that what travel is all about?

When I came to Spain nearly four years ago, I was working 12 hours a week for 631,06€. I had been thrifty the summer before and managed to save quite a bit of money, plus the scholarship money that was paid out to me just before leaving. I used that to pay my plane ticket to Spain. Having a short work week and the idea that the job was an “intercambio” a Spanish word meaning an even exchange, an auxiliar tends to take the long weekends and frequent holidays as a good excuse to see the rest of Spain and Europe. It became a running joke in my school to ask where I’d go each long weekend. I always had a trip planned. From every corner to Spain to seven new countries, I was convinced that traveling was my biggest hobby.

The following year, much poorer and with an even bigger desire to travel, I started knocking off destinations I never expected to go to, like Asturias in Northern Spain, and I also solo traveled and couchsurfed for the first time. Slowly, my goal became more and more reachable, and I became more confident. I realized that travel isn’t just about snapping the famous sites or racking up frequent flyer miles, but as savoring the lifestyle. I spent more time in Seville, having beers in Salvador, visiting new museums, making friends. Bullfights, Erasmus parties and days at the beach became my life.

And for the last two years, I’ve been changing my attitudes on travel, on settling and on life. After completing my goal of traveling within 25 foreign countries, I started to slow down a bit. I traveled Northern Spain to beat the heat, worked at a few camps around Spain, then began to work a full-time job. Gone were puentes, Spain’s excuse for long weekends, gone were quick weekend trips and gone were my ganas to do anything on the weekend but rest. I have had the chance to go to Valladolid, Lisbon, Ireland, Amsterdam, Lucerne, Berlin and all over Romania (ok, wow, that’s epic), but since Kike and I were talking about settling down and I applied for my five-year residency, I started thinking: Is my travel addiction a little irresponsible?

Honestly, I see his point. I make more money than a sevillano, pay less taxes and live rent-free. When Kike and I talked about the conditions of my living in his house, he wouldn’t let me pay rent because I had no job lined up for the following fall, and when I did start earning, he told me to save. And, I mean, I have, but who can resist taking a trip during a ten-day break? He called it silly when I could go to the beach cheaper (where it poured all week, while the Dacia got just four drops of Romania rain.

When contemplating my trip back to America this summer, I realize just how much it will cost out-of-pocket, now that my relatives´s generosity is running thin. And, since  won’t be working, how far will my small salary last when all of my friends are making big paychecks back home? How can I possibly justify trips when the one I am most looking forward to is the biggest cost?

And, really, when it comes down to it, I’m kinda losing the travel bug. How did this happen?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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