Ever got that feeling you just wanted to quit everything and everyone, take your bags and travel to a galaxy far far away?
Yeah sure, everybody does at one point. Unfortunately Mr. Reasonable kicks in that very moment telling you you can’t. Telling you life isn’t all fun and travels. Telling you you have to work to pay for the roof over your head, telling you you have to save up for a decent pension fund, you have yourself and maybe a hamster to take care of and not to forget attend weekly lunch dates with your parents to eat croissants and talk about half priced dip. Sure, you have a list of obligations and restrictions. But what if you ignore all those for just one second? And just consider?
Then where should I go?
Easy, take one of those round plastic things we call a globe, give it a good spin and point out your destination of choice. Or make a list of the countries you wanted to visit when you were younger. When you still had dreams. Any ideas yet? The next thing you do is start looking for basic information. It doesn’t hurt to look right? Like for instance, how is life in X or Y? What is there to see? How expensive is it to live there and what about flight rates? Can I maybe purchase an around the world ticket? Before you know it your engine is up and running and you feel a light buzzing in the chest area. This is desire sending endorphins to your brain. Telling it, it may not be such a bad idea to do something out of the ordinary.
If you’re completely happy with what you do, where you live and don’t think life can get any better, you probably aren’t looking for a drastic adventure. A holiday in Marbella or a two week safari in Africa is maybe enough to nurture your basic travel needs. If you have the constant feeling you’re missing out on a lot of things, feel like you are in a rut and feel you need a drastic change in order to improve your state of wellbeing, you’re in my category.
My trigger is I felt trapped. I was a few weeks shy of my 5 years working birthday when I started to feel worn out, emptied out to the bottom. I couldn’t leave my bed, my house, started ordering in and puffing away cigarettes from my window sill. At this time I was getting quite some big opportunities at my job. A promotion was lurking around the corner, my bosses were happy with what I did, but I was just too tired to give it my all. I had reached a ceiling. Tip: don’t save up all your holidays until the end of the year or you will burn up quicker than a drag queen ending up too close against a stove. I knew something had to change, I needed to get out for a while. I just didn’t know what to do or where to start. I was completely clueless. I still am.
After staring a couple of hours into the big nothingness I decided to open my laptop and start digging. This actually cost me a lot of effort since the world wide web scares me to death. Everything you need to know is on there, it’s like a tsunami of information coming right at you and you just have to hang onto the right trees not to be devoured by this giant wave of information or end up water boarding yourself.
I just hit that search engine with a couple of key words and went hunting. Before I knew it I was locked inside a bubble and hours seemed like minutes. Until I hit a first discouraging wall when I started visiting governmental websites. A lot of websites I stumbled upon are discouraging not to say depressing. Of course society wants you to stay in your country, with the company you work for, because society depends on you. Fear is a seed which easily finds a ground to grow in. Just take five, breathe, turn down the heating, maybe put on a helmet, and think of all the adventures that await you. Get that chest buzzing again.
Throw away your insecurities
At various points you are going to crawl back. It is quite possible you will start driving someone utterly crazy. A close friend who is up to date about your far from concrete plans. This person will give you a slap in the face -figuratively speaking, I hope- and will tell you, you need to keep going and stop whining. Fleur, thank you for being this person.
Other persons will try to demotivate you as well. Mainly your parents, who are worried sick about you not making it through life, never finding the right partner and worrying you won’t give them any grandchildren. They will want to keep everything the way it is. Talk you into keeping your job, staying at home where nothing ever happens to you and make you walk the secure path. Remember it is their job to worry about you. Fight like a lion, yell like a football coach, cry like you’re on Oprah Winfrey’s couch, but for the love of God stick to your guns.
Have faith in yourself
Believe you will find a way to make it work. I tend to be a pessimist sometimes too, but if I can find a way to turn that around so can you.
I had and still have my fair share of worrying: ‘What am I doing? What if I give up everything I worked for? What if I become so emotionally unstable I’ll end up selling my body? Or worse: end up broke, dead and badly dressed in a ditch. I have a great job, a nice car, lots of clothes, I can buy anything I want, … that’s also freedom right? Sure, there are a hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of reasons not to do it. But you only need one really good one. And you will know the difference between time for a break and PMS quite fast.
Your journey will stand or fall with a financial plan. This hasn’t got to be waterproof but you have to keep some things into account.
Cars and houses are usually a big cost. You own a house? See if you can rent it out for a couple of months. You can do the same with your apartment. Even if you are just a regular tenant. Just make sure your landlord is okay with it. Still living at your parents place? Then what are you yapping about, you could have been on a plane already!
You have a car you’re still paying for? See if someone can rent it for a while. Agree on a price and arrange a meeting with your insurance company to get everything legally covered. This literally takes ten minutes. Sending an email takes even less!
If you quit your job or take a sabbatical be aware you won’t have any income for a significant amount of time. Check your savings account, see what’s possible. Work in your free time if you feel you need to save up. The blonde in the mirror, I am looking at you!
Ask yourself if you’re willing to make some kind of money while traveling? Maybe you’re a writer or a photographer and it is possible to write articles or take pictures for websites or travel magazines, maybe you can start a blog or look for opportunities to work and travel and find a way to sponsor your trip. Don’t forget to arrange your work visa if necessary. You have to have that in your power before you travel to your destination. This is the moment you start visiting government sites. And put on that helmet.
Not by begging, of course. Be inventive. Are there things you can sell? What about that canoe in your basement? Or those piles of clothes you won’t wear ever again. Don’t be too emotionally attached to material stuff. If you’re really keen on leaving and exploring the world you’re even willing to sell your soul. I never thought I could say goodbye to my wardrobe, but I sold some really nice pieces, pieces with a lot of memories attached to it. But here’s the thing: I will make new memories!
When you got rid of all the insecurities in your system, you are good to make it official. Tell your relatives, friends, maybe do a status update on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, … you will be surprised how many people will congratulate you. Don’t forget everybody wants to do this at some point in their lives. Enjoy these positive vibes, they will motivate you to take further steps.
It’s always good to tell people what you’re up to. You never know if a guy knows a guy who knows a guy that can provide you with information or maybe tools. Don’t be too proud to do everything on your own. Reach out, accept people’s help and you’ll see it works like a domino effect.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Or ask around for basic utilities. Don’t buy everything new, you will need your money when you’re at the other end of the world. Maybe your friend has a backpack or hiking shoes you can borrow. In need of some tourist guides? Go to a library or ask around. These days there are website where people lend or give away everything they own. I’m sure you will find a tourist guide for China, Australia or even Chumbawamba.
You are now ready to put your plans into actions. Don’t be afraid of failure. Believe in yourself. Remember this is a pessimist talking. Also remember that the way towards a journey is often harder than the journey itself. You’ve already come a long way realizing you need a change, but you’re not there yet. So keep focussing. And -most importantly- keep smiling. And breathing. Of course.