Getting Started Can Feel Like You're Looking up at a Large Mountain:
"A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step"
Fear not my friends, although the intimidation factor can be real, remember the view is always best after the climb. Before we dive too deep, have you paused to ask yourself the why behind your desire to travel? Are you inspired?
It may seem like a silly way to start, however if we don't understand the why behind the action or activity, we may find ourselves lost before we've barely begun. For me, I am a natural born wanderlust. I love the mountains. I love the ocean. I love new people, new foods, new experiences, and different cultures.
It all fascinates me.
The sheer fact that a gigantic metal tube can blast me through the sky at 40,000ft at roughly 500 miles per hour to my destination of choice, all while serving me chicken or beef completely blows my mind. Transportation is a beautiful thing, and we live in the golden age of it. The technology available to us today far exceeds any other time. And guess what? It's only getting better as each day passes, so I'd say our future is looking pretty bright!
Stepping away again from my why, what's yours? Do you want to see the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero, explore the ancient Coliseum of Rome, walk across the Great Wall of China, or simply kick back and relax in the tropical islands of Hawai'i? Or maybe all the above. There's no judgment here.
The key is to identify what you want for yourself and tune in to what makes you happy (or you and your partner if in a relationship). My hope is that you find your why and stick with it.
As much as I love to travel, there are times when it can get a little challenging.
Things can and will go wrong, especially related to air travel (bags get lost, flights get delayed/canceled, food poisoning happens). None of that is to scare you, it's simply to encourage you to stay focused on the why, the reason you're leaving the comforts of your home in the first place. That way if something does go wrong, or there is a hiccup in your process, you'll remain focused on what's fueling you to get to wherever it is you want to go.
Bad Travel Experiences Never Bothered Me Anyways
My passion outweighs the struggles I encounter. I have had a fair number of things happen to me over the years travelling, but I can honestly say they’ve never really bothered me. Annoying yes, bother, meh. Life goes on. Don't get me wrong, not having clothes for a wedding can be embarrassing, navigating different languages can be a struggle, and yet the fact remains I always end up wherever I'm trying to go. Tickets get rearranged, bags get returned, and anything that's lost ultimately can be found or replaced. In short, stay focused. Eyes on the prize as they say!
If you're a one or two week per year type of vacationer than most likely you have been dreaming about this for a long time. Don't let the certainty of uncertainties ruin your trip. Things are guaranteed to happened. Life's too short, and in those cases your vacation time is even shorter. It's not worth it.
If you're lucky enough to be an open ended traveler, a nomad of sorts like myself, then it's even more reason to relax and let life happen. We only have so much control over things. Take the appropriate amount of initiative to make sure you have planned well, packed accordingly, and ensure your tickets are ready. Verify that your dates are correct, flights and hotels are booked, and in this modern age have your vaccine card or proof of negative COVID test handy.
Remember to have fun.
The joy is always in the journey as much as the destination.
In my family we have birthday weeks, not just days. You might be wondering why I switched gears so abruptly there. Reason being because putting all your eggs in one basket (i.e. one day out of 365 in a year) for all things to go well is asking for trouble. Murphy's law is real, and things can and will happen. So be flexible with your travel plans as best as possible. Be ready for a bad Airbnb, a hotel to have lost your reservation, and prepared for you and your group to miss that layover.
Hoping for the best and expecting the worse sometimes can be a great mindset when it comes to travel. This is not to say be pessimistic, always looking around for worst case scenarios to occur. On the contrary, I consider myself to be an optimistic realist- someone who’s grounded in reality but always looking for the positive. Yet, once again, stuff happens. To try and pretend like it doesn't and/or won't is setting yourself up for failure.
The fact is more often than not everything is going to go well, and sometimes even better than you expected. I have travelled to over 30 countries, been to 6 continents, experienced all 50 US states, and thankfully have had very little trouble along the way. I've flown on some dodgy airlines, crossed straights on rickety boats, and jumped into some less than 5 star Uber-styled vehicles. Yet I'm still here, destination ongoing.
There is a lot to review when it comes to travel preparations, not all of which can be covered in one blog that any one person would want to read in a single sitting.
These are brief starting points for you to consider. I'll get into deeper items in the near future like:
What to Pack for Your Destination
Religious and Cultural Awareness for International Travel
Language Barriers and How to Navigate Those Along the Way
Safety Tips While Travelling
Money and Travel
Other must reads
Stay tuned for more.
For now, remember the Chinese Proverb, "A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step". It is well known for a reason. We don't always have to know how we are going to get there, or what it will look like 1,000 miles down the road. We only have to know where to place our feet for those initial steps, and trust that our vision will allow us to place one foot in front of the other, and so on.
For me, it has always done me a great service to stay focused on the steps in front of me, and not to get too bogged down in futuristic details. While five year plans are great, I have found that they have much more likelihood to change and shift than a one week plan, one month plan, or any other plans beyond. Smaller, bite size chunks make things more palatable, and often times can and will lead to greater success in your journey.
As William Shakespeare wrote, "To thine own self be true". If you know yourself to be a heavy planner who is anxious to get all the details, then plan away! Have a backup plan while you're at, whatever it takes to rest that anxious mind. It is ok. If you're a little more of a free-lancer like me, line up some generic ideas and plans, but leave room for improvisation. It's amazing what life can throw at you when you leave space for experiences to come.
Bringing it full circle, what is your why for your travel. Why do you want to leave the house, why do you want to get that passport, why do you want to sit at the airport 2 hours early and possibly have multi-hour long layovers? If you don't have a solid answer to your why, you may find yourself wondering why you left in the first place, and then the why finds you.
I have come to realize that travel is addicting. The more I see the more I want to see. There are countless extraordinary places to visit in this world.
Whether you have a week, a month, a year, or a lifetime to travel, I encourage you to start with your why, and discover what ignites your fire to explore.
Questions to Consider:
What location inspires the childlike giddiness when you think about it?
What is something you find yourself telling your friends and family about that you can’t contain your excitement for?
What screensaver pushes you to get through your day?
Perhaps that’s your starting point. Look into going there, it’s already on your heart and you're manifesting it to some extent by looking at it everyday.
My desktop background is a large catamaran in the open ocean sailing into the sunset.
Would you believe me if I told you a few years after taking that photo (see my about me section for the picture) and making that my desktop background, I‘ve since physically sailed a large catamaran into the sunset in the tropical waters of Indonesia?
Still Cheesy? That’s for you to decide. Worked for me.
What truly calls to you to see, feel, taste, and experience this amazingly large, and also somehow small world of ours?
Spend a little time tapping into that inner voice asking for that wish list and celebrate it, that’s your why!
It's all right at our fingertips. Most places are only one or two flights away. Flights are as cheap as they have been in a long time. The world is hungry for tourism to return- many countries desperately need it to.
You're ready to be welcomed with open arms, so what are you waiting for? Find your why and pick a spot! The time is always now!