If you dream of traveling then there’s a good chance you’ve “mentally” packed your bags for that trip of a lifetime, on a few occasions. But then reality sets in, and you give your head a shake, and think, oh well … someday. Let me tell you something, someday may never come. That is, until you silence that little voice inside your head telling you that what your heart truly wants is never going to happen. There are many reasons why you should take that trip. But, there are probably 100 reasons why you won’t. Here’s the top five.
1. You can’t leave your family and friends
Your family and friends play a huge role in shaping who you are. They’re the people you feel most comfortable being with. So, it’s understandable that traveling alone would push you out of your comfort zone. Suddenly others will see you as who you really are, without the people you are attached to. Your decisions will be your own — good or bad — and you’ll have no one to comfort you (or blame) if things go wrong. We tend to define ourselves by the people we surround ourselves with. When they’re not around, we feel lost.
But here’s the thing, you can’t live your life based on everyone else’s needs and expectations. Twenty years later you’ll just be resentful. Friends come and go, but your true friends and family will be there when you return. The real beauty of taking a lifetime adventure is how the experience shapes you. In the end, your experience will leave you richer, more fulfilled and with even more friends than you had before.
2. You can’t leave your pet
This is a tough one because your pet is a part of your family. They’re with you through thick and thin. So, it’s hard to leave your precious pet in the care of someone else who may or may not “get them” like you do. But you have options. One is to use a pet sitter. Many cats and dogs feel comfortable in their own environments. So, having an experienced pet sitter come by for feedings, walks and playtimes is a great option. Another option is to leave your pet with a trusted friend or neighbor, or a family member who can accommodate your pet. This is obviously the best solution, especially if you plan an extended trip.
Boarding your pet at a kennel is another option. But if you choose to board a cat, make sure the kennel is feline friendly. I’ll never forget the feeling of dread wash over me, when just hours before my vacation, as I dropped my 18-year-old cat at the kennel, the employee who took her away casually mentioned over her shoulder that she was not a cat person. My heart sank when upon our return we found our precious kitty unable to lift her head.
Apparently, there was a miscommunication among the staff, and they had forgotten to feed her for days on end. This is not an attempt to scare you away from boarding your pet, just a reminder to interview the facility and their employees before you leave your precious pet in their care. Trust me, when you’re comfortable with your choice on who will care for your pet, it will make it that much easier to move beyond simply dreaming about your trip.
3. You have too many responsibilities
Being responsible isn’t a bad thing; without responsibilities, not much would get done in this world. But when you have so many responsibilities that there’s no room left for anything else, then it’s time to give your head a shake. Ask yourself, which responsibilities are burdening you with a life unlived? Do these responsibilities really make you happy? The funny thing about traveling is that responsibilities soon melt away. Freedom takes over and fruitless priorities change. What remains is what matters most.
4. Your career will suffer
If you base your decision to travel on “what ifs,” then you’ll never get away. You can’t predict what will happen five or 10 years down the road. In fact, in 10 years time, your career maybe moving in an entirely different direction. I worked within a corporate structure for years, and often worried about taking too much time away from my career. But it was my decision to see parts of the world that changed my thinking and forced me to reevaluate my life. I could no longer find happiness at the end of a boardroom table.
According to Jaye Smith, co-founding partner of New York-based career consultancy Reboot Partners and co-author of the book “Reboot Your Life,” people need breaks. In fact, out of the 500 people interviewed for the 2011 book — which offers practical advice on career breaks — not one person regretted the decision to take a break from their career, Smith told the BBC. Breaks lasted anywhere from one month to two years.
5. I don’t have the money to travel
Here’s the excuse that you hear from most people. In fact, it’s the excuse I’ve often used myself. But truthfully, where there’s a will there’s a way. Here’s what I learned the hard way: Get your finances in-line beforehand, rather than “charging” your dream getaway. Because it’s really hard to relax when you’re constantly stressing about how you’re going to pay for it all when you return.
If you’re all about traveling, then you know that life is about experiences — not the stuff you accumulate. There are two easy ways to save for your big trip. First, open a savings account dedicated to your trip. Set up automatic payments and don’t touch those funds until it’s time to pack your bags. Next, do an inventory of your material possessions and sell what you can for cold hard cash.
How bad do you want it?
The one thing we’re programmed never to forget is this: If you want it bad enough, you can have it. But what you need to do is ignore that negative voice inside your head that’s telling you why you can’t do it and focus instead on all the reasons why you can. The problem is most people, simply for ease, give into that negative voice. Then when they’re 40, 50 or 60 years old, they realize they may have missed out on a great opportunity.
We all have a level of comfort that makes life easier, more predictable and often a little boring. A new adventure can be scary. But if you can just figure out what’s holding you back from taking that leap, you’ll soon enter a new reality — one that’s filled with new faces, new horizons, new adventures and memories that will last a lifetime.
— Katherine Marko