Why You’re Never Going To Travel Around The World

Why You’re Never Going To Travel Around The World

This is not going to be easy and I’m going to say some stuff you’re not going to want to hear. You’re going to read travel blogs, buy some guide books, and maybe even take a trip or two. But chances are you’re not going to take that trip around the world you’ve been talking about. And this has nothing to do with the pandemic and basically every country limiting who it allows it.

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I’m also not talking about just going on holiday. This is about your dream to go on a long backpacking trip around the world or living abroad somewhere for a year. The one you’ve talked about for years and have not done yet. Congrats to everyone who has. You can leave. Everyone else, sit down.

It’s not about the money. Not really. It’s not about time. That only has a little something to do with it. It’s about something you’re doing and something you’re not doing.

Man looking out of airplane window in first class

The Price Of One Day

You are giving up today in exchange for ‘one day in the future‘. As in, “one day, I’m going to…”

But will you?

Right now, you’re not already traveling because life is in the way. You need more money, you just started a job, you can’t quit your job, you’re dating someone. Whatever the reason is, you tell yourself that you’ll get it sorted out and then one day, one day you’ll book that one way ticket to Southeast Asia or move to Spain and learn how to make play flamenco guitar.

Turns out, for most people, one day never comes, because life will always be in the way. Once you sort out one thing, another one might just pop up.

What Are You Willing To Give Up?

Most of what I’ve heard from people who want to travel is that they either need money or time. When they are not employed, they need money to travel. When they are employed, they need to quit to travel. You see the dilemma. It gets a little more complicated.

If it’s really just about the money, you need to do a little more reading. There are so many ways to work while you travel or ways to travel for dirt cheap. I’ll be writing more about some of that very shortly.

Some would ask, why not just work long enough to save enough and then quit? This is what I usually hear:

“What will I do when I get back?”

“If I stay a little longer, I’m going to get that next promotion and it’ll be easier for me to come back to a similar position.”

“I can’t quit. My mom will kill me.”

They are all somewhat valid, but in these responses, I detect subtle emotions like fear, greed and guilt. You’re either not brave enough to accept an uncertain future, you don’t want to waste the time you’ve already invested in your career, or you care too much about what people will think of you. And the thing is, none of that’s going to change tomorrow, the day after, or even a year from now.

Breaking The Cycle

YOU need to change that. Now before I continue, I should say that I’m both generalizing and speaking to a specific population of people who have the opportunity and the means to travel. There are people whose desire to travel will overshadowed by unfortunate circumstances.

Traveling is a privilege and a luxury for those who have some form of time and money. Not everyone is so lucky. I’m not going to pretend that someone growing up in the slums of the Manila or born to a lower caste in India have the same chances and opportunities as a child born in the United States. They are not starting out on a level playing field. These three child can all grow up to go far and do great things, but the reality is that it’s going to be harder for some than others. And still others might not be able to for personal reasons, like taking care of family or dealing with poor health.

For those who are lucky enough to even have this decision to make, it’s about breaking the cycle, accepting uncertainty and the risk of doing something you haven’t done before. You have to get out of your comfort zone and be brave enough to do what most others are not willing to do.

Because, to me, it’s better to deliberately take control of your destiny and do things on your own terms than to things just happen to you and having to react to it. But sometimes it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen people lose their job and inadvertently ended up pursuing their dream because getting fired was easier than having to purposely quit.

And that just shows that sometimes you just have to make stuff happen. You need a catalyst. Sometimes losing your job unexpectedly means you have to actually figure out what to do next. Uncertainty is actually scarier before you encounter it. Then it’s just a matter of fact and you have to deal with it.

I’ve Been There

When I quit my job, circumstances were mounting to help get me to that point. I wasn’t enjoying my work as much as I did just a year before. I was getting older and couldn’t hold back the tides of time. I had a singular desire to be able to travel more in my 20s. That wouldn’t be possible once I turned 30. My parents had given up so much to get us to America. I spent so many hours studying to go to an Ivy League and get a six figure job in finance. They were so happy for me, and I’d probably disappoint them. I knew if I stayed longer, I’d get my bonus, and possibly a bigger promotion, and definitely a larger paycheck. I could just stay just a little longer and wait for a better chance one day.

But I took the leap. I didn’t want to mortgage my present for a future that may never happen. In a moment of clarity, quitting my six-figure job was easier than choosing an ice cream flavor.

Sitting at bus stop in England

I’m sure your situation is different from mine, so I’m not one to judge. I want to hear more people be able to do that one big thing they’ve always wanted to do, so there’s no regret when the fat lady comes singing. You just have to ask yourself what you’re willing to give up to make that happen.

I want to see you out there in the world, if that’s where your heart belongs. If you need a nudge and some ideas, check out my bucket list.

Updated on January 7, 2022


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