Courage Versus Money

“Viajar nunca e uma questão de dinheiro, mas de coragem.”

This line comes from the book O Aleph by Paulo Coelho and when translated into English it means [t]ravel is never a question of money, but of courage.”

Reading that quote got me thinking – while I love what it says, is it truly accurate? If you do not have a penny to your name, would you still be able to go off and see the world (or even the next town down the road) fueled simply by your courage alone? It is doubtful that you would be able to walk up to the Virgin Atlantic counter at LAX and secure a flight to Europe with nothing but a smile, but if you have the courage to get out there and take chances, you just might figure out a way to make your travel dreams a reality.

Having courage allows (or maybe forces) you to be creative and find solutions to life dilemmas.  You want to travel but don’t have enough cash? You could sit at home and click through someone’s Pinterest travel board without having to muster up any courage at all.  But chances are you won’t be seeing the Eiffel Tower in person any time soon. Or you could take action and figure something out that gives you a better chance of ending up in a new country.

You could offer to fly as a courier transporting someone else’s belongings in exchange for a plane ticket. Or find a volunteer position overseas that would cover the cost of your transport to that country. You could embark on a hard core savings plan to afford a ticket to the city of your dreams and trust that you’ll figure out the rest once you step out of the airport. I often think of that scene from Titanic where Jack, with barely a pence in his pocket, wins a card game getting him a ticket to board a fancy (although doomed) ocean liner. If he sat at home and thought “I have no money to go out and travel so I’m not even going to try,” yes, he’d still be alive but with a lot less adventure in his life (and isn’t that what life is all about?).

I believe Paulo Coelho’s quote really applies to those of us “in the middle” financially. People who have at least some money and who are able to decide how to spend it. The truth is that I DO have some money (and some frequent flyer points) but I have chosen to use it on things like rent, shopping, car payments and eating out with friends.

As passionate as I am about travel, I really could make up my mind to sell my things on Craig’s List, give up my apartment and use my rent money to buy a plane ticket. And once I’m there, what would I do to pay for transportation, food, clothes, medical expenses and accommodations in my new city? Would I take a job, rely on the kindness of strangers or perhaps rob and steal to get what I needed or wanted?

If travel is something you really want to do, you CAN do it. You just must accept that other areas of your life will change, and that it is okay that they do. You will have to let go of your current lifestyle, and that, as Mr. Coelho says, takes courage.

Nailah Hayward is a recent corporate escapee who, not long after writing this article, took her advice to heart and worked up the courage to quit her job to embark on her second round the world trip while exploring new career options outside the cubicle. You can follow her travels and her trips outside her comfort zone on

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go