“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.