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The challenge of delayed gratification | Don't Ever Look Back

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The challenge of delayed gratification

The challenge of delayed gratification

We honestly thought that once we made the decision to travel long-term, the few months leading up to our RTW would be simple and the time would just fly past. We figured that our minds would be focused solely on the end goal and why we’re making so many sacrifices that it wouldn’t affect us too much. But with approximately 200 days remaining until we depart and each day at work seemingly getting more difficult to get through, let us tell you one lesson we’ve learned…

Delayed gratification is not easy!

Daily we read about the amazing experiences our fellow travelers are having overseas and all we want to do is join them on this path right away! We have enough money now to buy our airfares and pay for 2-3 months of expenses and daily we are tempted to take the plunge and purchase those first tickets. So why are we waiting another 6+ months grinding through the daily routines of 9-5 jobs when we can easily afford to go now?

There are plenty of reasons. We want more than 2-3 months on the road. We want to visit as many cities/countries as possible. We want to be able to afford to experience several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities on our journey. Basically, we want to travel indefinitely!

Unfortunately long-term travel requires significant funds and major sacrifices. It requires delaying gratification and waiting those extra few months in order to get exactly what we want. The problem we face is this – how the hell are we going to delay gratification and maintain self-control for another 200 days?! Browsing the web we stumbled upon this article by Ray at Financial Highway and he’s given 5 great tips to help with delaying gratification.

1. Make an advance decision and know what you want.

We’ve specified above what we want – we want to travel indefinitely. It’s difficult to resist the urge to start traveling right away, but this goal will keep us going for the next 6+ months.

2. Know what is important to you – know your values.

We want to be able to do what we want, when we want when we’re traveling and not be counting pennies at the same time. Sure we’ll have a budget, but if someone invites us to do something awesome we sure as hell want to do it!

3. Have a plan.

We’ve got a financial plan in place to reach our savings goal and a timeline of when we want to depart. Any deviation towards immediate satisfaction will affect these plans, which makes delaying gratification that tiny bit easier.

4. Prioritize.

This is the most difficult part for us. Saving for travel is obviously our number one priority right now and generally comes before anything! But at the same time we don’t want to alienate friends and drive ourselves insane by constantly turning down invitations just because those plans involve spending money. This is where tip #5 comes in.

5. Reward Yourself

Our dream of long-term travel still seems like just that sometimes… a dream. We’ve got some money in the bank, but nothing else to show for it and this can get quite frustrating at times. This is why we’ve allocated an allowance for ‘fun’ things over the next 6 months which will include a few weekend getaways to destinations such as Sydney and various parts of Victoria. These small rewards will keep us motivated to turn our dream into reality in just a few months time.

For those of you who have gone through it (or are currently in the same situation as us), how did you deal with delaying gratification?

Flickr Photo: jacsonquerubin


  1. Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Good post. I can not deal with waiting for something once I have made plans. The days are longer and the weeks seem to be like months. To combat it, I started leaving travel plans till the last minute. Wow, 200 days to go. That is going to drag!!
    Natalie recently posted..Why Is Responsible Tourism Failing

    • Posted November 24, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      Haha yes it is going to drag… this week alone has seemingly gone forever. But as the post says, we’re delaying gratification for a very good reason and it will all be worth it in 6-7 months. Until then, we wait!

    • Posted November 28, 2010 at 1:25 am | Permalink

      Same here with the planning. While I was saving up and knew my travels were still far away, I came up with several different plans, and then when I was close to any of them being feasible I made up an entirely new one (about 2 months ago). My idiotic advice: work more hours. lol, you’ll have less time to think about the time remaining, and more money for awesome adventures!
      Dave recently posted..Im Thankful to be Leaving w- 26k

  2. Posted November 24, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    All I could say is TELL ME ABOUT IT… I know this feeling all to well. We are on the same damn boat the boat that seems to go no where for now. All we can do is stay focused on the bigger picture and what lies ahead of us. I think a lot of people planning a RTW trip can relate to this all too well.

    Jaime recently posted..THE NEW ME

    • Posted November 24, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      It’s reassuring for us to know that there are others in the same stagnant boat we’re in and making as many sacrifices as we are. We’ve said it before – bring on summer 2011 for all of us! 🙂

    • Posted November 25, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      YES, BRING ON SUMMER 2011~

  3. Posted November 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I couldn’t even plan for what I will be doing the next day; talk about 6 months in advance!
    With I was that organized 😀
    Amr Boghdady recently posted..German Vocabulary

    • Posted November 24, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      Haha we haven’t got anything planned which is worrying and refreshing at the same time… all we know is that in 6 months time we’ll be quitting our jobs and traveling long-term!

  4. Posted November 24, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Making long-term plans is something we deal with all the time, but learning how to stick to the plan is the real challenge. I guess you should always have a “Plan B”, just in case some unexpected costs arrive on your way.

    • Posted November 24, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I guess the lessons in this post could be applied to any situation in life. We should easily make our savings goal once we sell cars, etc and will have some money saved in another savings account as a coming home/plan B/emergency fund. Definitely good advice!

  5. Posted November 25, 2010 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    Can relate fully at the moment! So many holiday sales start this weekend in the US ($400 for flat screen tvs?!?!?!) and I want one so bad, but I want to go to Peru more next summer. Sacrifices, sacrifices!
    Rebecca recently posted..New Zealand – Paihia

    • Posted November 26, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Haha flat screen TV’s are always so tempting… we nearly bought one before we decided to go ahead with our travels, very fortunate we made that decision!

  6. Posted November 25, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Setting a goal in advance, in my opinion, is the most important part. From having a goal, your next steps/actions almost come naturally from there, even if it’s your first time reaching for the goal. It’s like if you decide to run a marathon 6 months from now, even if it’s your first time you’ll start figuring out things like training, diet, motivation and then the details almost fill in themselves.

    Keep it up, it’ll be worth it, and we’re all here to cheer you guys on 🙂
    – Lily
    Lily Leung recently posted..7 Habits of Highly Effective People- Book Review &amp Give-Away ends Sun Dec 19

    • Posted November 26, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Definitely! You make it sound so easy Lily and I guess the truth is that it’s not really that hard with a few sacrifices.

      Thanks for the nice words, we’re looking forward to hearing more about your time in India.

  7. Posted November 27, 2010 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Rewarding is a must – although my fun over christmas time fund got extended a few too many times last year.

    I can honestly say you won’t regret waiting! Travelling is awesome!!
    Poi recently posted..Getting Your Western Fix

    • Posted November 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      We’re making sure not to go overboard over Christmas.. being at work while everyone else is on holidays will probably help!

      We can’t wait to join you guys on the road. How much longer are you planning on traveling for?

  8. Posted November 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    200 days is a looong time. But then you’ll be traveling for far more than 200 days, so maybe thinking of that can help you get through the next several months. And the more ancipication that you build up, probably the more you’ll appreciate what lies at the end of the road.

    • Posted November 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Hehe it is a VERY long time – but every day we wait is essentially an extra day on the road from our incomes so it will be well worth it when the time comes to leave. It’s just playing the waiting game which is difficult!

  9. Posted November 27, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I remember the wait!! But then, when it gets closer and it’s only weeks away and you can’t believe the time has come — well, all new sorts of feelings will hit 🙂

    Keep fighting the itch a little bit longer and 200 days will be over before you know it!
    Heather recently posted..Living the dream- 6 months in

  10. Posted November 28, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Having a reward is also the motive to get you going and make that dream come true. I know saving can be tough but soon you’ll have all the wonderful traveling memory that you’ll cherish forever and that is another biggest rewards!

  11. Posted November 30, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    setting up goals and plans is easy, but getting them done is the hard part. its great you guys are sticking to your plan

  12. Posted December 3, 2010 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    I’m such an impatient person that I know in your situation I’d be really struggling! Once I set my mind on something, I normally have it or do it within a day!

    Fortunately I am still at university and so I have to wait until I graduate before I can travel, otherwise I’d be off already hahaha! I have 228 day to go now!

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