“I want to travel, and do little else, all my life. I am so passionate about it.”
How often have people come up to me and made a similar statement. As a travel writer, my job is to travel – many of those who know of me want my journeys for themselves. I am happy when I hear that – I am a strong advocate of the importance of travel to people’s lives.
Travel is for everyone, but a life of travel? It is not for everyone. Of course, if I say this to those with travel dreams, a typical reaction is, “No, no…I know this is what I want!!” Ok, let’s not argue over this for the moment.
SUSTAINING YOUR TRAVELS
Go travel. For life. How do you plan to sustain it? Who will pay the bills? Do you have family who are ok with you being away for long periods of time? These are just some of the practical issues you need to consider. I have some suggestions, but will save those for another day. Let us step back and address something more important first.
TEST: ARE YOU CUT OUT TO BE A TRAVELLER FOR LIFE?
Why don’t you test the waters to see if you are cut out to be a traveller for life? You may be surprised with the results, despite all the passionate commitment you are expressing for the cause. This is what you could do:
* Start travelling: There is more than a slip between a desire to travel and actual travel. Many of those who come to me with travel wishes also carry a bagful of excuses to justify not being able to travel. My suggestion is you throw this bag in the dumpyard, banish the naysayer demons in your head, overcome your inertia, and pack your bags.
Travel at every opportunity. Head out on weekends and breaks. Even if not too far. Discover your own city – every outing requires just a few hours, and you will feel elevated with the experience. When travelling for business or on school trips, spend free time to explore the destination you are at – don’t waste those precious hours making small talk in a bar with your colleagues.
* A penny saved is a trip earned: Budgets are an issue for everyone. Become thrifty. Put every possible penny in your travel piggy bank. Hold back avoidable expenses. You will be ok with one shirt less, or having two beers instead of three. Switch off those extra lights, take public transport or car pool – it’s good for the planet and for your pocket. The list can go on – you will be surprised how money gets saved up when you want it to.
* A trip for every budget: Be open to travelling with whatever your finances allow. Don’t be fussy – the idea is to travel and upgrade as your finances improve.
* Talk to strangers: During your travels, talk to people you encounter. Don’t worry, they will not bite. When you do so, it will open your mind and heart to what this world is all about. You will not know otherwise. This is how you overcome prejudices and shed stereotypes. Locals are also your best guides – they will tell you stories and show you places you had no idea about.
* Maintain journals: This is a critical one. When you travel, carry journals and pens (yes, there are things called paper and ink) and make notes on a daily basis. Why? This makes you more mindful of your surroundings. If you don’t make in-depth observations and chat with people, you will not have much to write about. Take lots of photos – ideally, print these later and paste them in your journals. When you immerse yourself in places, you will know their true worth. When you read these in the future, all memories will come flooding back.
The pages will also be a mirror to your own life – you will be surprised how you changed as a person with every passing trip.
LET’S ANALYSE THE TEST RESULTS
If, and that’s a big IF, you succeed in testing yourself as above for a few months or even a few years, ask yourself the following questions:
* Do you have the temperament to maintain such a travel pace? If not, maybe you want to engage in intense travels in a burst of a few weeks or months every now and then.
* Can you handle all the highs and lows of travel? These include (God forbid) taking ill or meeting with accidents, losing valuables, missing flights, feeling homesick, getting swindled and so on. These are all hazards of the occupation.
* What kind of travels appeal to you most? It is perfectly natural to change preferences from time to time.
* How will you sustain yourself? Remember, most of us don’t have gold mines or money printing machines.
* Are you and your family ok being away from each other?
DO YOU REALLY WANT A LIFE OF TRAVEL?
Till you don’t travel, you will not know if you really want a life of travel. Others, including me, can only provide some guiding light – the real efforts and answers lie within you.