“Oh, I wish I could do what you did and just travel but [insert a myriad of reasons why Person X just can’t possibly travel,” says most people who comment on my travels.
Which, of course, makes my blood boil.
Because — you know what? You. Can.
So, I’m calling bullshit. Yup. Bull. Shit. The only person holding anyone back from chucking it to travel and follow their dreams (even if it is just a bucket list type of dream) is THAT PERSON.
If I can do it, you can, too.
Here comes the slashing of the excuses …
Not having the money to travel is the biggest excuse I get. Yes, traveling costs money. But, so does going out to dinner, drinks, shopping, rent, etc. If you want to travel bad enough, you can make ends meet and do it.
When I decided I wanted to travel (before I actually became an expat) I did what I had to do. I worked a job, and then worked side jobs to save money. The money I made from those side jobs went directly into my savings account. I didn’t touch it. I stopped going out as much. I stopped buying shoes. And purses. And bottles of pricey wine. I went grocery shopping and (gasp!) cooked — and coming from me, who is a definite kitchen nightmare — I made ends meet.
It’s the American Dream to have a successful career. To make enough money so you can retire comfortably. But, doing that means you sacrifice a little piece of you — that wanderlusty beautiful piece — for a future you may or may not have. I’m not bashing the career-focused people. Having a career is great if that is what you are after. Having goals, dreams, ambitions … they are all quality traits.
But, I can promise you this. If you go, your career will wait for you. Taking a trip — a month, six months, a year, longer — does not equate to career suicide. In fact, it makes you an even stronger candidate when you get back to your “normal” life.
I had a strong career in public relations when I decided to up and leave and travel long term. Just before I returned home, I started putting queries out to friends, former employers, scouring job searches, and more. Within a month of landing on US soil, I had interviews and then a job.
Travel actually makes you more marketable. Every company or person I interviewed with was bowled over by the fact that I decided to be unconventional and take a career break. That I decided to say “screw what is expected, I’m going to do what I want.”
And, it paid off.
You own a home? OK. No problem. Work with a property management company to rent out your property while you travel.
You rent? Even easier. Chuck your stuff in a cheap storage unit or sublease.
When I was living in Atlanta, it broke my heart to give up my gorgeous 1920s apartment. I would sit there with my cats and stare at the gorgeous molding, my beautiful living room with sun filling the room with a gorgeous daylight glow and actually get sad about giving it up. But then, I remembered where I was going, what I was doing, and it didn’t sting so bad.
I am writing this assuming the people who read it aren’t married with children. If that’s the case, I don’t think this will help at all. But, pets are another story.
When I told my friends I was leaving, I got a lot of grief for leaving … my cats. I had two beautifully sweet cats I loved with all of my heart. But, the truth is, my sweet cats couldn’t keep me from living. I found someone to foster them and love them while I traveled. Sadly, this last trip which made me an expat, also made me give them to a loving home for a more long-term solution.
“You’re so brave,” people used to say to me all of the time. “I could never do what you do … I’m not brave.”
Guess what? YOU ARE. I swear, it is deep down in there. You just need to trust yourself. To know that you are making the right choice by heading off to explore the beauty of the world. It won’t always be easy, but the world is full of people just like you. They stay at the same hostels. The same guest houses. They share train cars. They sit next to you on the long bus rides. There is an entire support system at the ready for those little moment when you doubt what you are doing.
And, if you need some additional reassurance, hi, my name is Diana. I will encourage the shit out of you.
Are there other reasons you need to get out and sorted so you can travel? Let me know.
12 thoughts on “Ditch the excuses … it’s time to travel”
AMEN!!! You put into words what I want to say to people who tell me that they could never do something like I am. For me, bravery was the biggest thing that I had to find. I was really scared when I left, but I feel like I am getting braver everyday!
Good for you for GOING!!!! I wish more people could do what you did!
Great article! My husband and I decided in our 30’s to quit our jobs & travel the world. There were a lot of attachments we had to let go of – apartment, well paying jobs we loved, and our awesome cat. Although it was hard at the time, in the end it was extremely liberating. It is so nice not to be tied down to “stuff”…although hopefully we’ll come back for the cat!
Whenever we had nagging doubts we just reminded ourselves that we didn’t want to look back at the end our lives and wonder “what if?”. We are now two months into our year long trip and loving it so far!
I LOVE it!! Congratulations!!!
Hi there, my name is Ann. I have been hesitating for long and finally made up my mind recently. I will only start my travel life by end of the year. Surrounded by great people, its really not so easy for me to let everything go. But I am so glad to know your blog and many other travel bloggers around. Slowly, I am gaining more and more confidence on that decision now. Thank you.
Go out there and LIVE!!! I am excited for your adventure!
I like this, but I have to say, I don’t agree with the career thing. I feel people who take career breaks usually work in fields where it’s a viable option – PR, law, marketing. If you’re working in a call centre, a department store, a bar – it’s simply not an option for you and before you even leave, somebody else will have your job, and it’ll be tough to find another one. Really tough. Call centres don’t care how much you’ve travelled. It’s really not THAT easy and I always roll my eyes a bit.
Not to rain on your parade or anything though, Diana! I love everything else that you’ve written here, especially about bravery. I wouldn’t consider myself brave, but many others do. My friend Sarah, who I visited in Prague, told me that her expat friends thought I was brave because I took a day trip out of the city by myself. I just thought, well, it’s only a bus – there’s nothing brave about that. And you’re right about there being plenty of people doing the same thing. I love how travellers come together and help each other out, give each other tips, sometimes warnings.
Tom, I totally understand that and while I did not touch on that aspect of a career-break, you bring up a very good point. Since it is not something I have experienced, and most people who come to me are in a similar position as what I was in when I quit, it wasn’t something on my mind. However, that being said, my experience, like most, was not one where I had a guaranteed job when I came home. I took a career break knowing that I may or may not find a good job when I got home, and with the understanding that it could take time. I would never have gone back to the job I had (there’s a reason I took that break), and just like a call center, etc. job, when I got home, I didn’t have anything. I had to find a job. I think that is more universal — the leaving from any job and not having one when you get back. As for the travel aspect — I think that truly depends on where you are going to work when you get back. 🙂
I took a career break and I went to go learn a language, and its starting to actually pay off career wise. I didn’t know it would and it’s not why I did it but its so far been a happy bonus! I think its all about fear really. People always say I wish i had the time, money, whatever you have to do it, and they are in the same job with the same vacation, same boss…but yet can’t seem to figure out how to do the same thing. Ahh well, you can only show people what’s possible you can’t make them take the leap.
Very, very true. It is up to the person to find it within themselves to take that leap.
I took a career “break” and moved to Quebec City, Canada. I came back with a published travel book through Fodor’s, French fluency, and a bunch of interviews/articles under my belt. As a writer, it was good for me to be a small fish in a tiny french-speaking pond. I really miss all those cool jobs I got, even though I made next to nothing.
As for the pets, I would never leave my dog. He came with, but we moved to French-Canada, not overseas. I would suggest to other wanna-be expats to look into pet relocation. There are more and more options now. Not trying to make you feel bad. You made the best decision you could.
I thought about bringing them with me, but I didn’t know what my plans were and didn’t want to subject them to a life of travel just because that was my life. Your career break sounds amazing!!