“I wish I could travel more.”
Oh, if I had a frequent flyer mile for every time I’ve heard this lament.
Travel appears to be the universal wish. Even the usual mileposts of marriage, kids, and house don’t seem to be as universal as the desire to travel. It may not be explicit, but there is a conjunction usually missing from the above statement. “I wish I could travel more, but…”
What’s on the other side of that?
Let’s round up some of the main reasons that people say prevent them from traveling:
- Not enough money
- Can’t get off work
- Girlfriend/boyfriend not supportive
- Family responsibilities (children)
- Fear of being alone
- Media conditioning (presumed danger)
I may be overstepping my grounds by stating that all of these reasons are fake. But what the heck? I think all of these reasons are fake.
I think it’s more useful to talk about the reasons that underlie the above, which I would distill to only two:
Fear of unknown. New places are rewarding, but they can be scary. You are very much out of your comfort zone, and the thing about being out of comfort zones is that it is uncomfortable (Seriously, never doubt that this site is profound). And that can subconsciously put a damper on making concrete plans to go. This gets more intense when you plan trips to more exotic places or very large cities. With so much sensory overload, even imagining the trip can lead to overwhelm.
This means that you can get stuck in the thinking process, not actually making a move.
Lack of intention. But really, this is the big reason why you’re here instead of on the road, why you’re at your desk instead of in the air, why you’re at a bar with your friends as opposed to at a bar with your friends 10,000 miles away.
Don’t have enough money? Sure, you don’t have the money now. But what if you planned for two years from now? Could you put away $30 a month? That’s a dollar a day (or 1/4 of a latte at Starbucks). After two years, you’d have $720 (plus maybe some change). That might not get you far but it could get you somewhere. What if you were able to up it to $2 or $3 per day, or saved for three years?
Can’t get time off of work? I bet you that you could with preparation. This post is too short to talk about strategies to embed travel inside or around one’s work, but if you really think you can’t get away, I would ask you to really check that out. Could you work remotely? Could you work extra days before or after? Could you start to transition to another job that would enable you to go? Again, you may not be able to go tomorrow, but if you haven’t explored your options, you’ve said no to yourself before anyone else told you so.
If your significant other doesn’t want to go, that’s a serious bummer (and probably would be a deal-breaker for me), but you could go with friends or even by yourself. If your significant other doesn’t want you to go (amazing, but sometimes true), well then, um, I don’t really know what to tell you, other than this may not be the match for you.
As for going by yourself, there are some amazing things that come with that. Specifically, you will meet more people when traveling by yourself, and this could lead to some amazing experiences. But you don’t need to travel alone if you don’t want to. There are groups that you can link up with, tours you can take, hostels where you can meet other people, and more. I know that many women fear being alone in a foreign place. While I am not qualified to speak on this topic, I know that women do travel by themselves without incident, and people traveling in groups can run into problems.
Finally, there’s the thorny subject of media conditioning. Personally, I wouldn’t rely on the news to tell me where I should and shouldn’t go. From reading the news, I’ve learned that if I go to Afghanistan, I will be abducted by terrorists. If I go to Japan, I will die of radiation sickness. If I go to Korea, I will be killed by an incoming missile from the North. And if I go to Iran, I will personally be escorted to my death by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Come on. Besides, have you been to Camden, NJ or East St. Louis? Just saying.
It’s not me, it’s you
After going through the above objections, one theme comes to mind: maybe you don’t travel as much because you really don’t want to. Maybe you value comfort and the familiar over travel and seeing the world. That’s okay if that’s the case, but if so, you’d be better to admit it to yourself, if not to others. Maybe it’s not that you want to travel more, but wish you wanted to travel more?
As for me, I love myself some comfort and familiarity, but I also know that pretty much every amazing thing that’s ever happened to me happened when I left my comfort zone. Care to join me?
But enough about me. What’s stopping you from traveling?