This topic is such a toughy but it’s something that comes up again and again. How do you make travel a priority in your life without being held back by ‘real life’.
You go to school and then maybe uni. You get a job, you start your career, you buy a house, you get married, you have kids, you buy a bigger house, you get a better job…
(And then I’m not really sure what happens after that as I’m not there yet!)
But where does travelling fit into this? What if this isn’t what you want? What if this structure that society has created for us makes you want to scream and terrifies the bejesus out of you because that’s not what you want for your life!? But that’s what everyone tells you to do, so you start doing it and then you get trapped in it and you can still hear the little 16 year old in your head quietly whispering, “I just want to travel the world and be happy.”
Oh I hear you!
It might just be a whisper but it’s there and you want to do something about it.
As you guys know, I get lots of lovely lovely emails from lovely lovely readers and one of my favourite things is to answer the questions in these emails in the form of a blog post. An email I had recently was from someone asking how to make travelling a priority and not let the pressures of life get in the way. She found herself settling down and now the grown up things like bills and commitments is making it even harder to tear herself away and live the amazing adventure she’d always dreamt of.
This post is for that lovely reader, who will remain anonymous, but also for the hundreds of people who I know will read this and feel exactly the same.
There is no answer to this question so I’m going to cheat and head over to Pinterest for some help in the form of an inspirational quote!
There is never a perfect time.
There’s never a perfect time for anything.
Whether you’re thinking about travelling the world, having a baby, changing jobs or buying a house. There’s never going to be a good time.
You’re always going to want a little bit more money, a bit more information, a bit more time to sort yourself out. You will never have enough because you can always have more.
‘One year from now you will thank yourself’
This is something I think about all the time because there are lots of things I wish I’d done when I first had the idea. I wanted to start making videos about 5 years ago but it’s hard and I’m shit and it’s a whole new skill to learn. But if I’d started learning 5 years ago when I first had the thought then I’d be shit-hot at video making by now. I’d be flipping awesome and I’d be saying to myself, ‘I’m so pleased I started making videos years ago…’
So why not do something NOW that you’ll thank yourself for later.
When I was pregnant I thanked myself for all those years of exercising and when I have a tough meeting with a client I’ll thank myself for all the prep I did. And now I’m nearly 30, I thank my 21 year old self for being brave and adventurous and travelling the world.
What’s stopping you?
No, really, what’s stopping you?
Think about it. Write it down. What is stopping you from doing that thing you want to do? Or, often more importantly, who is stopping you?
If it’s a ‘who’ then talk to them. Find out what they really think. Maybe they don’t even know you feel like this. Maybe they secretly share your dream. Maybe they’re supportive of your dream. Maybe they think your dream is a stupid idea so maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and just do it anyway.
Don’t forget your dreams
This is kind of embarrassing but I wrote something when I was about 13 years old in my diary. I’m sure that diary is still hidden somewhere on a dusty bookshelf at my parent’s house but I wrote something like.
“I just want to travel the world and write about it. And I’m writing it down now because I don’t want to forget that dream. I don’t want to be old and boring and normal and never live my dreams.”
It went on and on in typical teenage waffle but that first sentence is the exact words I wrote and I remember that because I used to read and re-read it all the time. It became engrained in my brain so I could never forget it.
I went through a phase where I thought it wasn’t possible but the dream was still there.
If you’re on the verge of forgetting your dreams then make something visual so they’re always there in the forefront of your mind. Make a scrapbook from magazine articles, write it down, stick postcards on your fridge. Do whatever it takes to keep it at the front of your mind so you’re always thinking about it. Because as soon as you stop thinking about it, it’s all too easy to forget it.
Just book the ticket
If you want to travel but you’re scared to give up the life you’ve worked so hard to achieve, the hardest thing you’re going to do is….you know…actually go. Actually getting on the plane and going is the hardest thing. Just the thought of waving goodbye, stepping on the plane and flying off into the unknown if flipping terrifying. But possibly the most exciting feeling of your life.
And if, like me, this thought is really scary, you’ve just got to force yourself to do it. It’s like ripping off a wax strip (not a plaster/bandaid, it’s worse than that). Just do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t countdown from 10. Just trust that it’s going to be OK and do it. Just open your laptop and book a flight. Book it for a weeks time, a months time, a years time. Whatever. Just book it.
When Sam and I went to Australia, we booked a one-way flight almost a year in advance. We didn’t plan, research, schedule, save or even talk to anyone else. We didn’t know what we’d do or where we’d go. We just drank a bottle of wine and booked it. I paid for my share with my student loan (it was the beginning of a new term so I’d just had a lovely lump of cash into my bank) and worried about the rest later.
And while we’re on this topic I should probably admit that Sam didn’t actually want to go to Australia. I told him I was going and that I’d love for him to come with me, but if he didn’t want to come I was going anyway. It wasn’t an easy decision for him and this wasn’t a lifelong dream for him. And it wasn’t easy for me to say I’d go without him, but that’s what gave him the push to do it and he now says it was the best decision he ever made. So if you’re waiting for the perfect travel buddy who shares your dreams then you might be waiting a long time.
You can always come home
When I went travelling, something I always kept at the bank of my mind was the thought, ‘I can always go home’. No matter what happened I always had £1,000 in my bank so, if I needed to, I could just jump on a plane and go home. If I didn’t like it then I’d just go home. At least I tried it and would never have that lingering doubt creeping around the back of my mind, always wondering if I should have done it.
And while we’re on the topic of home, most people I know who travelled came home and said nothing had changed. It’s weird and wonderful in the same way but you come home and slot back into normal life as though you’d never been away. So if it’s the thought of leaving home that terrifies you, just remember that home will always be there and home won’t change.
For me, the main thing that pushes me to keep travelling (even when it’s too expensive or a logistical nightmare or I have a million other things I should really do) is the thought that when I’m old I don’t want to have any regrets. I don’t want to sit in my rocking chair when I’m 90 years old and think, ‘Do you know what, I really wish I went to Bali when I was younger.’
I want to sit in my chair with a G&T and think, ‘Hell yes, I’ve had some adventures.’
It’s this Jack Kerouac quote that always comes to mind and it pushes me to do more…