Travel Trepidation: The Dog Ate My Passport

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This is the last post of a three part series on overcoming self-imposed obstacles to independent travel.  Catch up on the first and second posts of the series– Banking the Benjamins and Fear and Loathing of New Places.

This post is a catchall for the biggest hurdle to reaching your goal– you.  Be forewarned, this may get preachy, but I am an ordained minister after all.

Assume you are someone who wants to travel.  Not just a week in Bermuda, mind you.  We are talking about extensive, hostel-hopping, shower-skipping, life-altering travel.

What keeps you from hitting the road?  The dreaded excuses.

  • “I don’t have enough savings.”
  • “I’m scared of the unfamiliar.”
  • “I’ll miss my dog/cat/plant.”
  • “I’m afraid to leave my job.”
  • “It’s bad timing.”
  • “It just doesn’t feel right.”

The list is endless.

Excuses allow us to absolve ourselves of action. It’s easier to make excuses than push past our comfort zones, face our fears, and commit to a goal.  Instead, we rationalize because change is just too damn hard.  It’s safer to stick to the status quo and live life by consensus.

Think about the times you did whatever it took, even when it was tough, tedious, or painful because you really wanted something.  It was no longer ‘can’ or ‘cannot’– it was ‘will’ or ‘will not’.  Will you make the necessary scarifies?  Will you jump in with both feet?

The truth is, the time is never right, and the only ‘right’ is right now.  There are always excuses not to do something.  Move forward.  Act now.  Otherwise, you sow the seeds of regret.  The years will pass by, and you’ll always ask yourself “what if”.

The trick is to keep yourself motivated.  A few tips:

Tell Everyone

We decided to go for it in January 2009.   The first thing we did?  We told everyone.

Well, almost everyone.  You will want to shield your travel plans from your employer until the time is right.  However, do tell all your friends and family.  Most people will be very excited for you, and their energy will keep you motivated during the pre-trip months.

More importantly, the more people you tell, the harder it is to back out.

What will you say to Uncle Frank?  “Yeah…so I’ve decided not to do that travel thing because…I have to feed my goldfish.”  Lame.

On the flip side, you are going to face some downers.  Don’t let them discourage you.  Some friends or family members may not understand your long-term travel goals (this is okay– It’s not for everybody).  Remember, the bums will always lose, Lebowski.

Plan Your Itinerary

We believe in flexibility, but you still need to have a general idea where you want to go!  We had a lot of fun planning our route, and our excitement kept us motivated to save money.

Pull out a globe and jot down all the countries you want to see.  Now figure out a route that works for your budget and time constraints.  (This process is a post unto itself, so I’ll revisit this topic another time.)

Always wanted to go gorilla trekking?  Add Uganda to the list.  Feel like running with the bulls?  Make it to Pamplona in July.  Just think of all the wonderful foods and amazing sights you’ll see.  That beats feeding your fish, right?  Hell yeah.

Stop making excuses.  Stay motivated.  The possibilities are endless, and you’ll thank yourself for finally taking the adventure of a lifetime.

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