They tell you to travel when you’re young and able. To explore the world and connect with our greater humanity, and in so doing become a better person — to “find” yourself. What they don’t tell you is this.
1. You are an idiot, and idiots ruin everything.
It’s not your fault (what is?), you’re just young, inexperienced, ignorant of the world outside your field of vision and the artificial glow of your smart-phone. Your brain hasn’t even fully developed until your twenties have plateaued and started rolling toward thirty. The years are not yet your friends and your ill-thought actions turn idyllic country-side villages into backpacker strip malls. Places like Vang Vieng in Laos, that were literally ruined by wasted twenty-somethings.
2. Pearls before swine.
You are too young to truly appreciate the experience of travel as your youthful arrogance and lack of experience compounded by hormones will keep your attention on yourself instead of that Burmese family waving you over to witness their youngest child getting his head shaved as he is initiated into full-fledged monkhood.
3. You’re not going to “find yourself.”
You won’t “find yourself.” You’re already there. The “you” you are looking for is an ever-changing version of your personal narrative. So whatever problems you’re facing now will still be there when you’re on the beach in Thailand getting your face pressed between your knees as a Thai lady gives you a massage. Travel isn’t an escape, it’s life.
4. You won’t figure things out.
You’ll be too busy drinking cheap beer with those guys or girls you just met. Your hangover will turn the next day into a recovery day then by nightfall someone will offer you a drink and the cycle continues, because screw it, you’re on an island and the only thing you’re wanting to figure out is how to avoid diarrhea for the next few days so you can keep the party rolling. (Hint: avoid late night street meat).
5. Your “friends” won’t want to hear about it.
While you were trekking through the Himalaya most of your friends were working hard, financing their cars, having babies, putting a down-payment on a house and fighting for careers because they know that is the only valid path in life. They’ll wonder how you can afford to travel when all you do is bartend. With this in mind, they’ll have no follow-up questions to the standard, “how was your trip?” They won’t care, and who can blame them?
6. It will make you dissatisfied.
After seeing poverty, your conception of what we really need to be happy has been smashed, and the answers for everything you had before are null and void. The Truth becomes elusive and the search consuming. You are dissatisfied with the status quo, but are faced with the difficult choice of fighting for something better, or joining the system that’s there. Because you’re in your twenties, you haven’t yet chosen your Truth, and that first fateful step is the hardest.
7. You will see all of your friends get married on Facebook.
They’ll all have kids and impressive-sounding careers, too, while you’re still sleeping on couches and living out of a suitcase.
8. Good luck finding a job!
The longer you travel the more dated your job-skills become, making it harder and harder to find a “real job.” Life becomes a continuous job-search, filling out applications, tweaking your résumé and interviewing for positions you don’t want. You will end up working in the service industry and confronted by horribly entitled people, daily. Alcoholism ensues.
9. Life after travel is a bummer.
After over-stimulating your impressionable brain abroad, it’s now on idle, and you’ll be bored as hell. Still young and without kids, you’ll want to abdicate responsibility in favor of temporary measures, meaningless jobs and habitual escapism.
10. You are a sheep.
You want adventure, but you’re too young to know what that really means and how to have it. To you it’s parties and pub-crawls, package deals and “eco-volun-tourism.” Experiences chopped up and parceled out to eager, bright-eyed backpackers walking up and down the same damn backpacker streets in cities everywhere. All of it merely a checklist of sights and supposed experiences documented on a phone that never lets you get lost. Herd mentality will keep you firmly on the backpacker trail, paved by selfie-sticks and happy hours as that fifty-something over there just woke up early and witnessed a glorious sunrise in a town no one’s ever heard of.
11. By your 30s, you have everything figured out.
You have a career, disposable income and plenty of vacation time you’re going to use traveling the world with your family, because everyone uses their vacation time. You’ve found your Truth making second guesses and existential crises a thing of the past. You’re comfortable in your skin and have quashed your youthful idealism. Because by 30, everyone’s a responsible adult, and the world is grateful.
Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel around the World
It happens to me every time I travel overseas. I talk with people who hear about where I’m going, and they always say the same thing: “That sounds amazing! I wish I could do that.”
My reply is always the same: “What’s keeping you from it?”
I’m not being judgmental; I’m just trying to figure out what people’s motivations and priorities are. There really could be a good reason why someone doesn’t travel much, but the responses I hear back is usually variations of these answers:
- “I don’t have money to travel.”
Fair enough if it’s true, but for many people who say this, it would be better to say, “I’ve chosen to spend money on a lot of other things, so now I don’t have money to travel.” America is a country of great wealth, and many of us living here throw things away every week that would be prized possessions to lots of other people. If that sounds a little soapbox to you, read this New York Times article.
We choose what we value, either consciously or unconsciously.
Many people, young and old, have no problem happily spending their money and even going into debt for luxuries each week. I’ve chosen to focus my own spending priorities on meaningful experiences.
One time someone told me that she couldn’t give to a charity event because she did not believe in going into debt, and that her husband believed that a pledge to give money was effectively a debt. I must have surprised the person making the comment, because I agreed and said that I also believe in living a completely debt-free lifestyle.
She nodded and said, “Yeah, we don’t have any debt either right now. Well, just the two cars… and the student loan… and the credit card… and of course, the mortgage doesn’t count.”
I was too shocked to say much of anything in response to that statement.
- “The rest of the world is dangerous.”
Most people don’t come out and say it that way, but that’s what they mean. “If I leave home, something terrible will go wrong.” Aside from the fact that bad things can happen in your own country just as easily as anywhere else, there are very few places in the world that are outright hostile to visitors.
The more you travel, the more you realize you are at least as safe in many places around the world as you are at home. Sure, you probably shouldn’t plan a trip to Baghdad or Mogadishu right now, but the list of inhospitable places is really short. The list of amazing places is incredibly long, so get started. Intelligent people usually recognize this fear to be somewhat irrational, so as long as you don’t let it keep you home, it’s not worth fighting.
- “I like staying at home.”
This is another way of saying, “I’m afraid of change and different experiences.” Before you write it off, understand that most of us feel this way at one time or another. It’s just something that needs to be overcome. A small group of people will be brave enough to do it, and the rest will stay home, never venturing out beyond their own culture of comfort. It’s their loss; don’t let it be yours.
- I’ll do this kind of stuff when I retire (or at some other distant point in the future).
I see nothing wrong with the general concept of delayed gratification. I have an IRA, I look both ways when I cross the street, and it’s reasonable to give up something now in expectation of greater future benefit.
What is dangerous, however, is when delayed gratification becomes an excuse for not living the life you want.
How many people do you know that actually do the things they say they are going to when they reach arbitrary ages of leaving the jobs they have given their lives to? Far more common is the downsizing of dreams along the way.
If you want to play golf all day and take your medication at regular intervals, the 40-year career track plan should work well for you. If you have other ideas or ambitions, though, don’t kill yourself as a slave for the future. Instead, go and figure out where you want to travel and do something about it.
4 Important Questions to Ask Yourself:
1) Am I satisfied with my work? Does it meet my needs and fulfill my desires?
Your work should not exist merely to provide income for the rest of your life. Ask yourself, what am I working for? Am I working to make a living or to make a life? If your work supports your goals, that’s great. If it doesn’t, maybe it’s time to make a change.
2) Think back to the times you have left your home country. What did you learn on those trips? Do you think you have more to learn?
For me, the more I have traveled, the more I learn, and the more I realize how big the world really is. When I was younger and had spent a fair amount of time abroad, I used to say that I had traveled “all over the world.” More than 60 countries later, I laugh at that idea. There are still many, many countries I have yet to visit, and even after I achieve my goal of visiting every country in the world, there will still be many places within those countries that I still won’t have experienced.
3) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be? (Don’t think about reasons why you can’t go there.)
Brainstorm through the six inhabited continents – Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, North and South America – and think about cities or countries on each of them that you’ve always wondered about. Chances are there’s somewhere, and probably several places, that you’ve always wanted to see.
Finally, while I believe that international travel is not nearly as expensive as the lifestyle many people wear themselves out to maintain, it’s true that it does cost money to travel around the world.
Therefore, you should also understand the answer to this question:
4) What are your financial priorities?
If you don’t know the answer offhand, it’s easy to get it.Just look back at your bank statements, financial software, or credit card statements for the last six months. Whether you like it or not, where you’ve been spending a lot of money is where your priorities are. If you’d like to value experiences more than “stuff,” you may need to make some changes.
In future essays, I’ll discuss exactly how you should go about pursuing the goal of world travel – or anything else you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t known how to get started. I’ll also cover the following topics in detail:
- How to earn money without a job
- How to achieve great things for yourself while also making a difference in the lives of others
- How to align your values with your life, reducing stress and ensuring that you are doing the right things the right way
- How to change the world by rising above the norm of mediocrity
For now, the rest of the story is up to you. Think about the questions and make a plan. What’s that one place – or ten places – you’ve always wanted to go to?
Write it down and stick it to your monitor so you’ll continually be reminded of it.
If you don’t take your own dreams seriously, who will?
Tags: future, job, non-conformity, Travel, World Domination