Common sense will tell you that you need time, money, and desire or curiosity for travel to be something you enjoy. But in order to actually book your flight, pack your bags and head out on the trip of your life, you just need to do one very important thing to replace “I want to go someday” with “I am going now”:
Does that word put a little fear in your heart? If it does, that’s ok. In this context, committing to travel will only open up doors for you, so take a side-step around that momentary feeling of freaking-out about committing to something out of your comfort zone and start thinking about the replacing your fear with absolute, adrenaline-pumping excitement.
Answer these questions: Where do you really want to go? What do you REALLY want to do? Hike through mountains and discover waterfalls and exotic wildlife? Snorkel and scuba dive in crystal blue waters? Visit ancient monuments? Volunteer work with endangered species? Bike, hike, cruise, chill, swim, explore, discover?
All of this is possible. And when you finally get off the plane, breathe in the air of a new, about-to-be-experienced country, the excitement gets real.
One of the big things that I think many people struggle with is having the patience to plan and wait for good things to happen to them. We live in an instantly gratifying, fast-food, Amazon-prime, HBOGo, kind of world where we desire something for ourselves, and within days or minutes we have it. We want the relaxation, the sense of adventure, and all the life changing experiences that come from travel to happen sooner rather than later, and quickly.
But feelings and experiences that truly thrill you and change you take time.
The more time and planning you put into your trip (such as how long you want your trip to be, research into where to go and what you will do) will result in a trip that gives you the kind of travel experience you seek.
Ready to move yourself from staring at your screen and scrolling through travel sites to actually going and being in those exotic destinations?
1) Listen to what calls to you. Are you a beach bum? Moved by majestic mountains? Want to get lost in city culture and wander captivated by sparkling cities or meander through historic downtowns? All of the above? What EXCITES you? Choose that place.
2) Research. I recommend searching travel blogs written by other adventurers who have travelled where you want to go. Is it Colombia? Discover who has written about their travels through Colombia. Where did they go exactly and what do they recommend? Did they explore the coffee plantations in Salento, cruise the beaches in Santa Marta, or live it up in Bogotá?
Find out what was a must-see, and what was challenging about the trip. Is it ideal for solo travellers or should you start putting pressure on your friends to travel with you? What kind of budget should you plan for?
And know your travel blogger. Solo travellers will likely look for an experience a little different than a family would, so make sure the blogger who influences your decision travels in a way that resonates with you.
An important tip: Your well-thought out plans should be structured enough with activities that excite you but open and flexible enough to allow for all the unexpected delights that travel brings you. My most heart-warming, hilarious or harrowing travel stories stem from all the unplanned (mis) adventures I found myself in.
3) Figure out when you can go. This is important. Maybe the wine country of Argentina is calling your name and your vacation time is in June. However, in Argentina, June falls in the dead of their winter. It’s harder to drink wine outside in the warm sun then. You’d need to pack a jacket.
I once booked a week-long holiday in Malaysia on the Perhentian Islands during monsoon season by mistake. I work in the travel industry, and really have no excuse for not realizing this. At the time, I was just overworked, ready for a break, and negligent and lazy when it came time for me to just book something for myself and get away. I closed my eyes and locked in what I thought would be a week of indulgent cocktails on white sandy beaches in the sun.
Monsoon season meant the weather was stormy and terrible, most restaurants and bars were battened down and closed, there weren’t a lot of other people around, and as Malaysia is a Muslim country, cocktails were difficult to find. (Not impossible, but challenging).
Anyway — the point is, pay attention to the climate. Think about what you want, and be sure your destination offers the kind of weather you want at the time you will travel.
4) Eliminate your roadblocks. What are your barriers? What are the reasons you tell yourself “someday” instead of making a plan for “now”? Probably a mix of or all of the following:
Let’s eliminate these one by one.
Time. It’s not always something that’s given to us. It’s something we have to make ourselves. If you’re a 9–5er in the States, with 2 weeks off ONLY, that’s tough, but not impossible to get around. Countries who understand that rested employees bring more value have it figured out. When I worked in the UK as a teacher, I received 13 weeks of paid vacation a year. I don’t live in the UK anymore, but I could never cram my lifestyle now back into anything that doesn’t give me the time and freedom to travel.
If you want to add travel to your life, you’ll have to find or make the time yourself, so figure out what fits into your availability. Then go ahead and stretch it out just a bit. Tack on 3 to 5 more days, and then work to make that happen. Your future well-travelled, cultured, and rejuvenated self will thank you.
Money. My dream vacation is a combination of lesser-known bars with fewer tourists and more friendly locals and days filled with exploring, hiking, beaching, street-market wandering, and really, really good food. I don’t mind roughing it, but sometimes I appreciate splurging and staying in a place with a comfortable big bed, a giant showerhead in the bath with a deep tub in a private room with a fantastic view from the window. Usually local wine fits in there somewhere, exotic food and a language I don’t understand, as well as a physical activity that I love doing but freaks me out. Like bungee jumping or surfing.
I’ve never had a huge budget for travel, but somehow I’ve made it work for me and have travelled extensively to almost 40 countries.
You can too. Get smart about saving. Rent your room out for month and use your rent money on Airbnbs and hostels in South America. Sometimes the daily $6 latte is a necessity to get you through the day, but really, maybe a $2 flat white will wake you up just as much. That $4/day in savings becomes an extra $20 a week which turns into $80 a month. $80 can get you a dorm bed for 8 nights, or 1 awesome seaside hotel room. Or make your own damn coffee and buy a travel mug. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a $6 latte each day, then you probably are the kind of person who will seek out something more comfortable than a bed in a shared dorm for a week.
But that’s why you do your homework and make your own plans to create a travel experience that suits your own standards.
No matter what your budget, there is always, always a way. Figure out what you can cut down on in your weekly expenses, or see what you can do or sell to bring in a little extra income and start holing it away.
Options. Don’t get overwhelmed, get excited! This world is so vast and there are so many fantastically interesting places to experience, and many ways to make your trip happen. Compare what’s out there. It’s worth mulling over. Let the possibilities play out in your mind for a few days and see which one is sticking around, nudging you to book that flight.
Companions. Do you want to go with friends, or make this a solo trip? Both have their perks. If you’re travelling with a friend, then they also have to navigate through the barriers of time, money, options, etc. But if they can do this too and you know you will be good travel buddies, then it’s a win-win.
If you’re flying solo, that can be one of the best ways to enjoy your travels. It forces you to get out there. You can make plans and change plans as you go anytime you want. You’ll meet other people. You’ll find yourself challenged and rewarded in life-changing ways — I promise you.
I never worry about travelling solo. If I’m alone the whole time, that’s okay! I probably needed the time for journaling, reading, and just being by myself for a while. Usually though, I meet people who I end up hanging out with. Strangers who meet travelling can become friends, part ways, and stay connected. There isn’t any friend quite like the friends you meet when you travel.
And that’s it! Travel is so easy to make happen.
Commit to travel. Eliminate your barriers. Pick your destination and start planning. It won’t be long until you change that travel experience you’ve always dreamt about taking “someday” into an incredible trip that you take “now”.
Send me a postcard.