If I had not allowed myself to travel to Costa Rica in May 2005, I may have abandoned my goal of backpacking around the world.
Initially, I didn't intend to travel abroad for a week or two each year because I wanted to stay on track for a more grandiose adventure. It was my mom who suggested, after I broke the news about my dream trip, that I take a vacation. After some thought, I realized she was right, and I shouldn't deny myself some time off (from work).
Excited by the decision to travel abroad again, I wanted to head to Switzerland as it was a country I had passed by during my European jaunt in 1998, though would hear great things about soon after (especially Interlaken). My mom chimed in again, reminding me that perhaps I should leave a trip to one of the most expensive countries on the planet for a period in my life when I could better afford to enjoy it. She mentioned Costa Rica, and I planned my first international backpacking trip (in 7 years) after finding airfare for $300 round trip (about 60% less than airfare to Switzerland at the time).
To make a long travelogue short, I had a blast during my first visit to Central America. It reawakened my passion for the freedom one experiences during independent travel, bolstered my self confidence, and reminded me of why I wanted to take a trip around the world. As I had a steady job, I even let my budget bloat to fit what I could comfortably afford (ie. splurges like a spa treatment, 2 massages, costlier meals on a few occasions).
In May 2006, I set my sights on Belize, with a sidetrip at the end to Tikal in Guatemala. Again, while the cost of the trip affected my RTW savings in the short term, I gained much more in terms of excitement for my long term plans.
As we wrap up May 2007, my RTW date of departure is less than 6 months away, so I decided to forego a 2.5 week trip this Spring and stick to a few weekends in New York City instead.
There are many ways to approach saving and planning for a trip around the world. Hopefully, this blog has exposed you to my slow and steady approach. If I were an animal, I'd be a turtle. I might not cross the finish line first, however I will definetly get there, and enjoy the scenery along the way!