Give Yourself Permission
There are far more reasons why you shouldn’t travel than reasons why you should.
It’s easy to get lost in the reasons why not and lose your nerve to book the flight. But I want you to do it anyway. Because for some reason, we can’t seem to allow ourselves the permission to actually do what we want to do. As if we’re not the masters of each minute of our lives, free to do with each what we wish. We choose to allow our responsibilities and commitments hem us into a life that feels like it’s not our own anymore, a life where it seems everyone else is in the driver’s seat but us.
I know I certainly felt that way. I was burning out on my career in advertising, realizing that too many people other than myself had the power to make or break my success, no matter how hard I worked or how much talent I had. But I was addicted to my early success in the field, and the money (the poorest of reasons to stay) they were paying me to do it. I was realizing the Sydney was never going to be home, that I missed my family, friends, and the culture of America, where you can be outspoken and opinionated and it’s seen as an entrepreneurial attitude rather than an insubordinate know-it-all. But I had gone through the effort of building a whole life here. A gave up an entire life full of friends and love in Seattle to come here.
And then I found out that a friend was dying, that she had less than a year to live. And I realized I was just making excuses, I was just letting my life run me instead of running my life. And I decided to stop all that and give myself permission to do what I had always wanted to do: travel.
When I was preparing for this trip, I read dozens of blogs and even a couple of books. A recurring theme in all of them? The authors devoted a huge amount of time trying to help people overcome their objections to traveling. Once I started traveling, I heard a lot of ‘I’m jealous/I wish I could do that.’
But you CAN!
Here are some of the top reasons I’ve heard why not, and what I think about that:
1. “I can’t afford that!”
Yes, you can. Not having the money to travel comes down to two things: not making it a priority or not being creative enough.
If you don’t want to sacrifice a few things to set aside some starter cash for long term travel, then you don’t really want to do it. And if that’s the case you should be honest and say “Oh that sounds so nice, but my overpriced latte/shoe/cocktail addiction is much more important to me.” I pretty much didn’t have a social life to speak of for the last several months before my travels, because I thought about what every single dollar I was spending meant. I’d look longingly into my favorite cafe on my way to work, then remind myself that price of one flat white would feed me for an entire day in Thailand. And I would walk on by.
You also don’t need to have the full cost of traveling in your bank account by the time you leave. Because guess what?! You can actually work abroad! I’m not going to go into all the details of where and how because so many other bloggers have already covered the topic so much better than I could have, but if you have enough cash to survive for a couple of months, that’s all you need to get started. Just make sure you have a plan for how to get an income again after that point.
2. “My boyfriend/best friend can’t come with me. I don’t want to go alone.”
Time to put on your big girl panties, because you’re going to have to go alone. You’ll find that the older you get, the harder it is to align friends’ schedules with your own. When I was 22 we managed to get a group of eight to Costa Rica. Four years later I was only able to get one of my friends to come to Mexico with me.
My point is, if you really like to travel, you’re going to have to get comfortable going on your own at some point, or you’ll never go anywhere. And your dreams and desires really shouldn’t be dictated by the number of vacation days your friends get. You won’t be lonely, you will meet people (even if you’re socially awkward introvert), and you will be safe on your own. No excuses allowed.
3. “I’m married/engaged/have a kid/have a pet”
For those of you using the serious relationship excuse, I’m really hoping you are in a relationship where your partner understands and respects your dreams and desires and encourages you to go after them. As long as that’s the case, there are a dozen ways to get around this obstacle, and each is as unique as the relationship. You could mutually agree on a specified amount of time to be away, you could have your partner join you for the first few weeks/months, it’s really whatever you’re both comfortable with in your relationship.
My boyfriend popped the question just before I left for my trip! Rather than try to stress and wedding plan on the road, I’ve decided to leave it until I’m back in the US. And we decided what the maximum allowable time to be apart was (3 months), and he scheduled vacations for where I was going to be at those 3 month intervals.
Kids can be a little trickier, but it’s not impossible. There is a family who sailed around the world with their kids, and I met a woman in Siem Reap who moved around Europe with her first son for two years immediately after he was born. With pets, you may have to rely on friends and family to help you out, though there is one couple who travel with their dog.
The point is, nothing is impossible. Just think creatively and you can find a solution.