“Don’t you hate seeing posts on Facebook of THAT GUY posting all of his vacation pictures online? Like… How annoying? Is it because secretly you’re wishing that it was you?” Those were the words that came through my car’s FM radio last week. It was an ad for a travel company selling all inclusive packages to Mexico. They’re hitting us exactly where it hurts – On The Social Media Network – Facebook.
Yup, it certainly got my attention. Not because I wanted to go to Mexico for a week, but rather because I hoped that I wasn’t THAT GUY! This blog is written for you everyone. The wanna-be traveler, the adventurer, the mom, the dad, the sister, the crazy young kid, student or soul searcher. Here are a few thoughts and ideas for you to keep in mind the next time you try to convince yourself that you CAN’T travel the world and live the greatest adventures of your life.
First of all, I’ll start with my experience. And please keep in mind that 6 years ago I had never traveled or slept in a tent! In the past 48 months I’ve traveled to Kenya 3 times, Tanzania, Peru, Tibet, India, all across the US, I’ve explored every UNESCO world heritage site in Canada including the incredibly remote Nahanni National Park by canoe, I’ve slept in a hammock under the stars on the Island of Zanzibar and climbed to the top of the world. On each journey I was doing something that mattered deeply to me that was extremely fulfilling. How you ask? I’m going to start by expelling a myth right away: I make a very modest income and by no stretch am I independently wealthy. In fact, because I’ve chosen to donate 80% of my time to running my charity (without pay) I likely make much less money than most people out there. The fact is this: It is all about choices.
Ask yourself the following questions: What kind of car do you drive? What kind of clothes do you wear? Where do you live? How many lattes do you drink a week? How do you socialize? What decisions have you made in your life when it comes to commitments? If you have children or are married how conventional is your way of life? If you’re a student or young adult, are you setting yourself up and making decisions so that you have the freedom to live a life of your dreams? The answer to some of these questions may very well be the very reason why you are not traveling and contributing the way your heart desires.
I guess for me, it started when I was 14. Yes, that’s me! I was introduced to punk rock music. On the surface level it was a bunch of guys with mohawks. Loud music, screaming guitars and raunchy vocals with a message of anarchy and rebellion. That’s what my parents heard anyway. Here is what I heard. Learn to think for yourself. Learn to form your own opinions. Learn to be your own individual. See the system of our society in the West for what it is. Don’t become a victim of mass marketing and trends. Don’t allow anyone to tell you how to live your life, what to become or most importantly WHO to become.
This changed everything for me.
Then in 2005, it all changed again.
I traveled to Nepal and it was as though I was reborn. I learned from some of the ‘poorest’ people in the world that richness is not about what we have, it’s about who we are. I learned the beauty of simplicity. I learned the value of inner peace. I understood that life was impermanent and could be gone in an instant. I learned to treasure the PRESENT, our greatest gift. And to LIVE it.
So how does all of this apply to traveling the world?
I’m suggesting you look at what may be holding you back.
1) Ask yourself – How simple is my life?
2) Have I forgotten how to dream?
3) How much emphasis am I putting on what I wear, where I live, what I drive and how I’m perceived by others? Does this define who I am? Is it how I’ll be remembered?
4) How much of how I live my life is based on other people’s beliefs and expectations? How I raise my family? Where I go to school? How I choose to spend my time? And if none of the above resonates, what is holding me back other than myself?
I’m not suggesting any of the above is unimportant. Because clearly it is in our society in the West. Family life, school, work, careers, fashion etc… Of course it’s important, but so is growth, personal exploration and happiness. What I’m suggesting is that the answer to how to do it, how to travel the world, live the life of your dreams and contribute and serve others at the highest level is hidden within yourself, your choices and what you choose to believe or NOT believe.
We are taught at a young age to have dreams, yet as we age and ‘grow up’ we forget those dreams and we certainly forget to forge new ones. We become very busy and lose sight of what truly makes us happy. MANY of us could be traveling the world and living the life of our dreams with a few simple adjustments.
Once you’ve asked yourself the above questions, ask yourself where you’d really like to be. Then ask, why am I not there now?
I’ve seen families traveling in the Himalayas with their young children giving their kids the greatest learning experience of their lives. I recently met a couple in Peru, 2 school teachers who make a very modest income, traveling with their teen-agers. Young adults in their 20′s traveling 8 countries on a few dollars a day learning more about themselves and the world than they ever could on Google or Facebook. I’ve even seen 60 year-old’s partying in Peru, exploring the world with a new found partner rediscovering what it is to be alive. How? They’ve made choices. Never too young, never too old and certainly never too late.
At the end of the day unless you’re independently wealthy you’ll likely never be able to frequently travel the world unless you make lifestyle decisions that enable you to have the freedom to live your greatest travel dreams. The sunrise over Machu Picchu, swimming with dolphins in the ocean, Yoga in Zanzibar, summiting Kilimanjaro, falling in love, connecting with other people, building a school in Africa and learning about the person you really are…. AWAITS.
Ad Astra everyone.