Oftentimes, the idea of quitting your job to go travel the world is romanticized without taking practical factors into account.
Not everyone is in the position to drop everything at a moment’s notice to country hop.
Traveling the world isn’t an easy task. I would know. As a self-proclaimed professional traveler, I know what it’s like to be living my life for a living. It’s a lot a work, not a full-time vacation.
So let’s get some things straight.
I have privileges which allow me to travel the world.
Having privilege doesn’t mean I didn’t take risks, work my bum off, or make sacrifices. It means I have the skills, the work experience, the passport, the supportive family and friends, and the will to travel the world. Furthermore, I went out there without any non-negotiable commitments. These are real, tangible factors that determine my jet-set lifestyle.
Reality Check 1: Not everyone has these luxuries.
So I’ll give you this. If you fall into any of the following categories, you probably can’t go travel the world right now:
1. You have immigration issues.
Having access to an American, Canadian, European, or Australian passport is sometimes like having good health. We take it for granted until we know what it’s like not to have one. Visas and passports are one heck of a problem. I would know, I worked for the Lebanese mafia, and it drove me into freelance.
So maybe you can’t work overseas for an employer. Maybe you can’t travel the world right now.
But I bet there is a country that will welcome you and your monopoly money. If there isn’t, then guess what? You don’t have to go to another country to travel. Try another state. Try another city. Check out the National Park a few hours away. Just go.
2. You can’t go travel because of your health.
I just met the most incredible woman who is only a few years older than me — a local, former cheerleader, mother, and all-around pleasure. Amy is not in a position where she can go travel. Out of nowhere, she developed a kidney problem which grew into a more serious disease, costing her both of her legs and hands.
As she endured physical therapy, doing sit ups without legs or hands, travel wasn’t exactly on her mind.
But she will be taking a trip in February. You go Amy. You go girl!
Amy, her friends and family, and myself at my mom’s event.
If your time and money is invested into a funeral, chemotherapy, or prosthetic surgery, you might not have the privilege to hop on an airplane.
Life is unfair, and we don’t all live in The Bucket List. There’s a debt beyond what disease and distress does to our minds and bodies.
There is no smart-aleck comeback to this: our health is the one thing we can’t buy.
My thoughts go out to you if this is the position you are in.
3. You can’t travel right now because of money.
Why don’t they teach financial management in middle school?
If you’re already in credit card debt or struggling with medical bills or attorney fees, traveling right now may not be the best path for you.
Actually, you should probably take care of that whether or not you want to travel.
However, when you get past this, you could trade your expensive lifestyle for a travel lifestyle.
In 2012, I bought a one-way ticket to work as an expat. I sold my car and didn’t do any shopping for a very, very long time. When I transitioned into traveling full-time, I dropped the gnarly cost of an apartment. By cutting my expenses, I could not only afford to travel, but save long enough to figure out how to actually monetize it.
This required learning new skills, trial and error, and of course — more sacrifices. Now I get paid to do me. You can subscribe here for my upcoming book on how to build an online brand in a year.
But if you aren’t willing to give something up to be able to afford to travel, then that’s just it – you’ll never be able to afford to travel.
If you create a financial plan and strategize how to pay for travel, then you’ll eventually be able to travel. You’ve got this.
4. You can’t travel because you’re committed to someone you truly love who can’t travel.
If my mom was in the hospital, I wouldn’t be traveling.
If I had just had a baby, I probably wouldn’t be traveling right away.
If my non-existent husband or boyfriend wasn’t in a position to travel, I might just put it on hold, or slow it down.
It’s important to be physically present in the lives of the people we love. This is a legitimate reason not to travel the world right now.
Travel doesn’t have to be an endless nomadic journey where you resort to cleaning toilets to make it work. While it is important for us to make time for ourselves and for travel, it’s like anything else in life — sometimes other unforeseen events take precedent over it.
But it’s important that we love ourselves too.
We can travel solo, we can bring people along with us, we can explore local destinations, or travel less often. If someone really doesn’t want you to ever travel, if they don’t respect your love for travel, and don’t include it in their own list of goals, then their goals aren’t big enough.
So maybe travel isn’t a right now thing, maybe it’s a later thing. Mark it in your calendar because “later” isn’t a real day.
You’re the only obstacle preventing you from traveling. If you can sort visas, have the health, are capable of developing a financial plan, and are in the position where you can spend some time away from the people you love (or they can come with you), then you have just one excuse:
You don’t want it bad enough.
Sometimes, we have to take responsibility for not taking something on because we don’t want to deal with the inconveniences, we are too lazy to look up the information despite the accessibility of Google, or we are afraid.
Reality Check 2: It starts with a choice.
Travel challenges us. It’s teaches us new things about the world and ourselves.
It not only makes us wiser, but happier :)
So put on your cape, develop a game-plan and fly!
You too can make your dreams into goals.
If this is something you really want to do, the first step is in making the choice to actually pursue it.
Reality Check 3: Travel is a tangible, achievable goal for most people.
I’m not a big fan of excuses. I know people who travel with kids or without much money. I know people that don’t travel as often as I do, but have made it a priority to include it in their lifestyle.
I envisioned the type of lifestyle I wanted to live, and found a way to make that happen. For right now, that includes travel.
I’m not saying quit your job and travel the world.
All I’m saying is that one day, something could happen that would truly prevent you from traveling right then and there. It’s up to us to take advantage of today.
Maybe I’m just fused right now. Last week, for the third time, one of my sorority sisters passed away. Alongside the burning of my college apartment, memories overcame me. Great ones and bad ones. I was overcome with a bit of anger for all of the things these beautiful young women would never get to experience. It’s not fair, they didn’t have a choice.
We do. We can make choices to do the things that make us better and happier. I’m sick the millennial mentality where we joke about hating everything and everyone. Life is beautiful, and it’s up to each of us to embrace it.
I almost want to say, that if you are capable of traveling and just choose not to do it, that you don’t deserve it. But that wouldn’t be right. Traveling is one of the greatest investments you can make in yourself, and everyone deserves to be happy and the opportunity to better themselves.
You deserve to travel, I hope you see it too. But I can’t answer the question for you, can you really “just do it?”
Original Cover photo collaboration with travel photographer @PauloDelValle
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