How to Finally Stop Dreaming and Start Traveling
Travel. The thing almost all of us would like to do more of; the thing that inspires envy when we see friends on Facebook jet-setting to Europe, accepting overseas work assignments, or backpacking across continents, living richly through not-for-sale experiences. Many people, especially Americans in our fast-track culture, feel an intense jealously of those who rebuke the two weeks of vacation per year system and take time, at any age, to spend months living out on the road or those who pack up everything for a multiyear expatriate assignment in Hong Kong without a second thought. How did everything work out so easily for those people? How can they depart so easily from the norm?
The truth is, the only thing that transforms any one person into a true globe-trotter is his or her decision to make traveling a priority and to make it happen at the inevitable expense of other things. The people who travel are not hung up on stockpiling money. They leverage their resources into funding experiences on the road instead of accumulating material possessions at home. They value cultivating personal relationships that spread across the globe and do not worry that their loved ones will abandon them while they go out to intentionally experience the world. They value having successful careers, but are not in a rush to accomplish everything all at once. They understand that by exposing themselves to the world and spending time away from the norm, they will come home with far more enriched capabilities to succeed and navigate their lives in the world around them, wherever that may be.
These apparently free-wheeling travelers understand that the benefits of their lifestyle off-set the sacrifices required to make it possible. Indeed, traveling involves making trade-offs to arrange career, financial, and familial responsibilities in a way that accommodates extended periods of absence and freedom. This is part of the joy of becoming a traveler: juggling and arranging these responsibilities according to priorities that are independent of - or even opposite to - what is convenient or what society normally incentivizes us to do. Because it is not easy, travelers demonstrate a tremendous amount of willpower, organization, and vision to live the way they do. All anyone needs is the same level of imagination, determination, and prioritization to live similarly.
The most important elements of becoming a world traveler involve confronting and accounting for excuses and simply deciding to go. Everything else will fall into place once a person musters up the courage to trade temporary inconveniences - and in many cases, raw fear - for colorful memories, a back-pocket of interesting experiences, and a worldview expanded through compassion, self-confidence, and an awakened understanding of the value of global interdependence, he or she will be infinitely rewarded.