I’m a fairly positive person (there’s no “can’t” in my vocabulary). So when I ask others “Why don’t you travel”? I get the usual excuse (insert here). I feel like so many are cheating themselves out of amazing opportunities and experiences and settling for reasons why it’s a better idea to stay planted on home turf. These reasons may be legitimate but sometimes they are excuses that keep us passive instead of planning. Inactive instead of active. The reasons people choose not to travel become barriers to making dreams a reality and living a fulfilling life but luckily there are solutions.
1. It’s not the right time. Timing will never be right. Accept the reality there will always be something to distract you. Work around those distractions. If you don’t, the world will pass you by before you know it.
2. I can’t afford it. Neither can the other travelers who do it every year. We just make it happen. Travel is a chance to experience other cultures, understand social differences, challenge our limits, and learn things we can’t be taught in a classroom – and you can’t put a price on that. Finding the money to fund your travels means taking a closer look at what you spend your money on. Chances are you have “stuff” you don’t use and spend money on “stuff” you don’t need. The daily $5 Starbucks coffee fix, those designer jeans, or eating out. Material goods and abundance make us forget that we are capable of living much simpler lives (like our ancestors before us). Just because it’s available doesn’t mean we need it or need it to survive. Instead, brew your coffee at home, pack your lunch to go, and shop less often (do you really need 10 pairs of jeans? More than 4 pairs of shoes?) Once you can reprioritize the things that are most important to you, you’ll find the pricier things may not have as much value to you anymore.
3. I have a job. Yes, work is important. We need an income to pay for the quality of life we want to achieve. But there is a crisis in Western society many fail to admit: We’re conditioned to follow the status quo path. It’s part of the go-to-school, graduate-and-get-a-job routine we’re taught to follow. Sadly, we’re taught to put our jobs before ourselves. Here’s something they don’t teach us in school: Life is not about living to work. It’s about working so you can live. It’s about experiencing more of what this world has to offer, connecting with one another, and finding a sense of meaning and purpose while we’re here. It is possible to fulfill your dreams with a 9-5 job or busy family life. It just takes a bit of planning.
You can also take a career-break. Most people who think about quitting their careers fear they won’t find another job post-travel but if you landed a job the first time, there’s a good chance there will be another (better) job when you get back. In fact, traveling can only make you more employable. Traveling enhances your transferrable skills such as planning, decision-making, communicating, and negotiating. It makes you more adaptable, flexible, open-minded, and fearless. When (or if) you decide to return home you’ll be reenergized and a stronger candidate. Employers like to hire people with international exposure – at my last job interview I was asked more about my traveling experience than my qualifications! Needless to say, I got the job.
Most importantly, being jobless doesn’t mean you have to be poor on the road. You can work while you travel to help offset the costs like running your own online business, digital freelance, house-sitting, or working at a hostel. Get creative about the skills you can offer. There are countless ways to earn money while you travel or help sustain your finances.
4. I’m scared. Of what? What’s the worst that can happen? Whatever it is, you’ll always have home and you can hop right back on a flight anytime. If you fear taking the travel leap alone, book a group tour to build your confidence as a solo traveler. Or better yet, act THEN think! Sometimes we over analyze new situations. Book your flight first so there’s no going back. Take the first leap and you’ll realize everything will just fall into place. Overthinking a situation is often the biggest barrier like the time I jumped off a bridge but we quickly learn we’re capable of much more than we think.
5. I have kids. Take them with you! It could be a bit more challenging wandering the globe with little people you have to look after but traveling could be a life changing experience for them too. They can learn a new language, culture, and history. Or why not join a volunteer program together? Traveling with kids may take a little extra patience and planning but it’s not impossible.
If you choose to go it alone, don’t feel guilty. Your family will enjoy their time with you more when you get back. You’ll be much happier and reenergized, not sad or miserable about your regrets – no one likes to be around negative people moping around about what they wished they could’ve done. Besides, going after your dreams can be one of the best examples you can set for your kids!
6. I’m not retired yet. Life doesn’t start when you retire. Life starts the minute you’re born and if you haven’t started living yet, well…get on it! Retirement can bring unforeseen events and health concerns. What if you’re sick? Make things happen for you right now! Stop deferring life!
7. I have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Relationships are supposed to be mutually supportive. As cliche as it might sound, if someone is keeping you from doing something that makes you happy, chances are they’re not worth sticking around.
8. I’m too old. Age is just a number and you are only as old as you think you are!