Many people dream of traveling the world but for most of them this dream will remain just that… a dream. A fantasy that doesn’t become a reality.
But the truth is, the traveling lifestyle is more realistic than you might think. Right now it’s more possible for more people than it’s ever been in the history of the world.
Yet it’s very easy for people to reasons why they can’t do it or it’s not the ‘right moment’ for them.
The reality is it’s a question of wanting it enough.
Here are 10 reasons that are holding you back from following your dream of exploring the world.
Maybe you’re still in college or about to go to college. I think it’s a good thing to pursue an education; besides knowledge and experience a good degree is a key that can open doors to well paying jobs.
But that doesn’t mean you’re grounded to your university campus for the next 4 years. These days most universities have exchange programs where you can complete a semester or even a complete year at a university abroad. In Europe there’s the “Erasmus program” between European universities.
So look into it, probably there’s a similar program or scholarship that exists for your field as well. If you have to option: don’t doubt and enroll yourself.
It’s is a great way to start an extended international experience, to learn a new language and another culture. During my student years I had the chance to go to the USA, Greece and England and I had a great time in all these places.
Maybe you’re doing well in your current career and you worry that by taking an extended break or quitting your job all together, you will mess up this career.
While even 1 generation ago that may have been an issue, nowadays people change employers all the time and a gap year is generally not only accepted, but depending on how you sell it, it’s even well-received.
I recently had to do job interviews again after 2 years of travel. It didn’t affect me in he slightest way. Sometimes the gap on my resume never even got mentioned. The times it did get mentioned, it was in a positive way.
It’s all about how you’ll sell it. Most interviewers/employers/HR-ladies will be intrigued by your travel adventure and admire it. You can spin it so it works in your advantage.
If for your field of work continuous employment is really essential, say you’ve used the gap year to study or to try to start your own business. Whatever. Just make it sound positive.
If you are a professional person a gap year shouldn’t set or hold you back in your career. That’s if you still want to continue in that career after you’ve seen and explored the wonderful places in this world; it’s very likely you’ll have a different view on things after you’ve lived life 100% to the fullest.
This may be the most legitimate concern that’s holding you back from travel. You can’t travel the world if you’re broke or in debt. But you can’t do anything for that matter when you’re broke or in debt so that’s a separate life problem.
If you’re living in a 1st world country and you’ve got a decent paying job, an extended period of travel is possible for you. It’s not as expensive as people generally believe it is. It all depends on your travel style, there’s plenty of posts out there that discuss cheap travel tips so I’m not going into detail here.
But if you’re passionate about travel, you can make it your priority and start saving with that goal in mind.
Save big by not spending on things you don’t need. Don’t be materialistic. Make a plan. Know what you’re working and saving for.
Moreover, besides just the traveling and the experience of a lifetime, you are also buy yourself a year of free time. This free time that you can use anyway you want: You can extend your skill set (so you could find a location independent job) or you could work on requiring recurrent income, etc.
It’s an investment in yourself and in a happy regret-free future-you.
This is another tricky one. If you’re in a relationship but you’re secretly dreaming of another life where you travel the world (and meet exotic women from different countries)… it’s gonna be a tough combination.
I was in this exact situation. Before I started traveling I was in a long-term-relationship. If she was shitty girlfriend, it would have been an easy call to break it out, but she was great. Nonetheless I wasn’t I wasn’t fundamentally happy with my situation.
I was under social pressure to conform and settle down, because “that’s what you’re SUPPOSED to do”.
Do not underestimate the power of social conditioning. But it would take a complete blog post to elaborate on this subject, for now let me just stick to this message: Listen to yourself, you’re TRUE-self. Be HONEST to yourself. Don’t settle down because of external pressure or because “it’s supposed to be like that”.
If you’re in a relationship but you are expecting more from life, it’s not an easy decision to leave everything behind and start traveling.
For me it took a while before I was able to shake off this social conditioning and be honest with myself: a Long Term (Committed) Relationship was nothing for me.
Read more on this in “Live the life you want – Should I be in a relationship?“.
Whatever you do, don’t try to go for a grey-zone solution; like traveling with your girlfriend or being in a long distance relationship. Both are just horrible, horrible ideas and you know they won’t work.
5) Lack of vision and dreams
When I first announced to people I was quitting my job to travel the world, one of the most common reactions was “Wow, that’s great. I wish I could do that”.
While a lot of people honestly have this desire within, to break conventions and to do something extraordinary in their lives (at least once), more often that not this remains a faint dream or fantasy for them that they will never actually take action for to make into a reality.
When they hear about other people doing it, they have admire it but it will always remain something “other people” do.
The truth is: if you want it enough you can make it happen.
Like I said in the introduction, now more than ever it’s possible to do so. Even 1 generation ago, people could only dream of the options we have available today (cheap flights, staying in touch via Skype/chats, available information on the internet, etc.)
So dream big and make it happen.
Another similar phrase I often heard: “I’ve also thought about traveling the world. One day I see myself doing something like that too.”
The longer you wait to make it happen, the harder it will get. Everything that’s stopping you from doing it now, will be 10 times harder in the future. You’ll have more responsibilities at work, you maybe get into a mortgage, relationship, kids. Once you’re on that road, it’s game over. You’re travel fantasy has been postponed indefinitely.
Maybe you’ll dust off the old travel plans after you retirement. But guess what? Travelling is not the same when you’re old. You probably won’t even have the energy anymore to do it and start playing golf in stead.
Don’t procrastinate on your dreams. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. You’ll miss it when it’s gone and all the money in the world won’t buy you back the year you were 24, 29 or 31 years old. Start planning today. Make it happen.
Some day is not a day of the week.
7) No travel partner
This should actually be a good thing.
If you’ve never traveled before maybe your idea is it’s something you should do with a travel partner. But even if you do have a friend that would join you on your adventure, it’s worth to consider going alone.
Traveling the world is something you do with someone exactly on the same page as yourself or alone. If you really want to break free and do what you want, you’ll still be restricted by the other person’s expectations and you’ll end up getting on each other’s nerves eventually.
The best way to travel is to change between periods of traveling by yourself and then traveling with a friend or a group of friends.
I even recommend starting your trip alone. You’ll meet like-minded people while traveling, it’s just a guarantee. I started my trip alone and that’s how I met 20Nation and Fisto. We then traveled parts together and other parts alone.
So don’t let a lack of a travel partner hold you back. It’s a good thing.
8) You’re stuck in your comfort zone
Before I embarked on my first world trip I used to travel in a more traditional way. I used to do one “big” 3 week trip per year to a far destination. Then I realized that when I thought back about these years, I would remember them only as “the year I went to Brazil” or “the year I went to USA”, the rest of the year had just blended away in a grey zone of vague memories.
I did not want to see time fly by like that. If you stay in your comfort zone, you get caught in a rut. No interesting things ever happen in your comfort zone.
You should make it your mission you continuously extend your comfort zone. And the way to do so is by leaving it. Literally. That’s where life gets interesting.
9) Scared of breaking conventions
Quitting your job, breaking up with your girlfriend, selling your house, all in order to follow your dreams and travel… It’s not conventional.
Most people don’t like things that aren’t conventional. It makes them uneasy.
So maybe you are worried of what your family and friends will think. Going against the stream is not easy.
The answer to this is not giving a fuck what people think. Of course you care what your family and friends think. But everybody has to lead their own lives. Living your life to make others feel more comfortable or in fear of being judged is a sure way to regrets.
Actually when your close friends and family realize you are following your passion, you’ll probably get more support than you might expect.
In the end people who really pursue their dreams to the fullest demand respect.
Whenever they interview old people on their death beds, the same types of regrets are exposed:
- Most people regret the things they didn’t do in their life, rather that the things they did do.
- Most people wish they had worked less.
- Most people regret not having traveled more.
So there, you’ve been warned. Don’t let these regrets catch up with you when you’re old.
10) I don’t have skill X or Y, or other bs.
All other reasons you are thinking of not to travel are probably be reason you -should- be traveling.
“I’m a horrible planner” – Well, I can almost guarantee that I’m a worse planner. Did traveling make me a better planner? Not really. But it did put me in situations where I was with my back against the wall and I had no choice to get organized, so it made me a “good-enough” planner.
“I don’t speak the language” – Change it. Start learned a new language right now; dive in head first and learn it while your there. I didn’t speak a word of Spanish when I arrived in Latin-America. My first dates there I used Google Translate on my smart phone. Complete immersion is the best way to pick up a language anyway…. Actually, dating a local girl that doesn’t speak English is the best way to learn the language 😉
“I’m not social enough” – Well, read reason 8 again and get out of your comfort zone. Just do it and you’ll be surprised at how well you manage in situations that you can’t even envision right now.
This list goes on, but you get the point: There’s always a reason not to do it, there’s always a reason why it’s not the right moment. Just focus on the reasons why you SHOULD do it and do it NOW.
I remember when I was doubting to make the decision to take the risk and follow my heart, I felt lost and I searched the Internet for stories, thoughts and quotes that would provide me with the answers I was looking for.
The real answer will come from within you. I hope this list may have helped or inspired some of you to break free and start taking the first steps to make the dream of world travel a reality.