No more clichés about long term traveling !
I can only talk about my own experiences on this blog because traveling really is a special and different adventure for everyone. But if there is one common experience that most of the long term travelers go through it’s that as soon as you start talking about your project, you receive comments and questions that can make you think twice about the decision you took.
Clichés about long term traveling are many and here are a few arguments I could have used a year and a half ago…
Traveling, running away or taking a step back ?
Have you ever heard something like “Your problems will still be here when you’ll get back, you know that, don’t you?”… Well yes, but no !
Yes, for some of us, on top of being so eager to discover new things, the decision to travel sometimes also comes from being sick and tired of something, from things in life that happened too fast, from the craziness of the world that sourrounds us that doesn’t allow us to think.
Yes, it’s true that problems won’t solve themselves magically while you’re off. And if there really is a problem it has to be dealt with, whatever you do and wherever you are.
But NO, leaving doesn’t mean running away. If one bad choice or a succession of it makes you feel like you need some fresh air, it doesn’t mean you’re in denial and trying to escape your responsibilities but it means that you need to reconnect with yourself. It means you need to take a step back, to make the pressure go away and see things more clearly. Traveling is taking some time for yourself to ask the right questions and start finding real answers out of any social pressure.
Traveling is not running away it’s taking a step back !
Traveling, “being on holidays” or “looking for inspiration” ?
Have you ever heard something like “Well, I’d love to go on holidays for one year too you know, but I have responsibilities”… well yes, but no !
Yes, traveling is taking some time for yourself, discovering incredible things, visiting this ancient site or this gorgeous white sand beach, scubadiving for the first time and meeting amazing people whith who you’ll share unforgetable moments. And yes, you could do that on holidays too.
But no, traveling is not “being on holidays” as it’s also planning, finding a way to keep going, looking for new objectives, renewing yourself, asking yourself everyday where you’ll be sleeping, always packing in the morning and unpacking at night, not having a safe place where to hide when needed, being always out of your comfort zone and surrounded by a language you don’t understand. But all these things are what makes traveling so special as it’s what awakens your curiosity, unlock your empathy, tolerance and inspiration. And what traveling would be good for if not for stimulating or reviving your creativity ?
Traveling is not “going on holidays” it’s “never ending inspiration”
Traveling, like danger or like trust ?
Have you ever heard “What ? you’re going to middle east right now, are you mad ? You take care of yourself ok, and you trust noone”… well yes but no !
Yes, it’s not because you’re traveling that you can go wild and crazy and forget about social rules. First, because there are codes in each country you go and it’s not your call to discuss them or shake the order. And second, because dangerous persons are everywhere, all over the planet… It’s sad but this is what it is.
But no, traveling is not dangerous… Well at least not more dangerous than taking the subway in Brussels or going to a concert in Paris if you see what I mean. I traveled alone in Turkey, Lebanon, Iran and Egypt from july to october 2015 and I hitchhiked in all these places… alone. One year and a half later I’m still here to talk about it which means that even if it could have looked like a crazy idea, it wasn’t so dangerous in the end. How did I do ? I followed my instinct, I didn’t trust people who didn’t look trustworthy and I trusted the ones who looked honest. I accepted to open up and I showed them I trusted them and in return I won a few amazing friendships, a lot of nice discoveries and tons of new knowledge. Anything could have happened to me, like I could have been in this subway in Maalbeek going to work.
Traveling is not dangerous it’s trusting yourself and trusting the others around you too !
Traveling, too expensive or small budgets need adaptation ?
Have you ever heard “Ho you’re so lucky, I’d love to do what you’re doing but I just don’t have the money…” Well, yes but no !
Yes, traveling does require a bit of money. Because we live in a world where money has become one of the only way to survive, traveling, like any other activity, requires money. You can’t grow food on the go or store things for playing Mac Gyver trying to repair your old clothes and tools. You need to pay to eat, quite often you need to pay to sleep and sometimes you even need to pay to go somewhere.
But no, traveling is not expensive, you can travel with any budget it just depends on how serious you are about the project. If you really want to travel, you’ll find solutions within your budget. But if you find only excuses it’s certainly because you don’t want to do it or you’re not ready yet (which is ok, just keep it somewhere in your mind it’ll pop up later when you’ll be ready). If you’re really broke, you can always volunteer in a farm thanks to wwoofing, or in guest houses with workaway in exchange of food and shelter. You can even find more local options when you arrive in the country where you want to stop for a while. You want to sleep for free? Take a tent ! You want to move from A to B for free ? Hitchhike ! If you have any competences, make use of it, share it, exchange it for knowledge, food or shelter. I’ve met a tatoo artist who exchanged shelter for a unique piece of his work on the owner’s shoulder. I’ve met a couple who would go in town play the flute for a few coins when needed. I went to an internship with a yoga teacher who exchanged yoga lessons for a discount on the price of the inetrnship… And I even used my cooking workshops to help me pay my nights in campings while I was cycling to Portugal.
Traveling is not expensive it’s just changing the rules !
Traveling, like boring or like building a project ?
Have you ever heard “One year ?!? Woooow, woooow, after 2 weeks of holidays I’m so bored that I can’t wait to be home and back to work… What will you be doing all that time ?” Well, yes but no !
Yes, some of us love their job, their routine, their life, their country, their home etc. Well done ! You certainly have always listened to your heart while making choices and you now have a very happy and satisfying life… But most of us don’t, most of us have at least made one little tiny mistake, so for those ones :
No, traveling is not one long horrible and very boring day of one year at the beach reading very bad litterature and waiting anxiously for diner hour. Traveling asks for a lot of pre-work, planing and dreaming in order to find a good topic to follow and activities that fit with that topic. It requires a lot of motivation and self-control to stick to the plan and keep going everyday. One year of travel in your entire life could be seen as a sunday in one week. If you’re the coach potato type, watching TV in your pyjamas for 13 hours, you’ll end up having a quite boring day that doesn’t create any special memory and you might be excited on monday morning to go back to work to try to put some meaning into your routine (Don’t get me wrong, coach potato style sometimes is very nice and well deserved but if you do it every sunday, it means that you’re missing 52 good occasions per year to create special memories with your friends and family… not judging, just saying). But if you’re more the type to sleep one extra hour (because it’s sunday) go for a walk in the forest with your dog to pick chestnuts, have a brunch with your family and get ready around 6 pm to welcome your friends for some games, drinks and grilled chestnuts… Then here you go, you know it’s not always easy to get started but it’s worth it for all the good memories you create everyday.
Traveling is not boring, it’s working on one of the biggest projects of your life !
Now, you also know that traveling is not the one and only solution for anyone who wants to be happy, to deal with issues or to become rich… Traveling is the solution only if you want it to be. And most of all traveling is an amazing experience that nothing else will ever replace. And if you want to do it but you’re stuck because of your fears or the fears of others, just don’t worry, follow your heart and your dream, the worst that could happen to you is to learn a LOT about yourself and the world that surrounds you. Traveling won’t make you a better person, it won’t solve any of your problem, it won’t answer any of your questions but it will give you some time to think, breath, be inspired, learn new things, discover new hobbies and reconnect with yourself…