“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves.” – Santayana
I once read an article on what it meant to have the “travel bug”, and how it differentiated from merely taking a vacation once or twice a year.
Many people lust after photos and articles of other people’s travels and adventures and think, “I wish I could do that, they’re so lucky.” In reality, anyone can leave what they know behind and travel the world, you don’t have to be a millionaire to do so. Most people are afraid of the unknown, or leaving their lives “behind.” While at home, it’s easy to get stuck in routine and repeat the same schedule day in and day out.
Every part of travel forces us out of our routine and to open our eyes to the unfamiliar. Without fail, every time we travel we learn something new and open our eyes and hearts to something unexpected. These moments happen at home, but having these experiences when we travel makes us more open to breaking out of routine in our daily lives as well.
Most likely, your job and the familiarities at home will still be available to you when you return. However, many destinations will not always be available for us to visit. The world is changing, and because of the high volume of people that these places aren’t used to seeing, (and are getting physically worn down because of it), many of the more fragile and unique destinations won’t be as easily accessible to tourists for much longer. In this case, there is no time to wait for a better time to go. The time to travel is now.
“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves.”
I put a lot of thought into the quote and what it meant. Did I travel because I wanted to lose myself, or find myself?
I think that when people go on vacation, they want to completely block out their obligations and everyday routines and just relax in a state of bliss. But what about when you quit your job, give up your apartment, put your stuff in storage, and buy a one way ticket to a foreign country? Is that traveling to lose oneself, or to find oneself?
I’ve always dreamt of exploring the world for as long as I can remember. The dream was always there, and a decision had always been made that I’d one day attempt to travel the world. I had just mistakenly thought I would need to be retired or win the lottery to do so.
How To Make It Happen…
About 5 years ago I picked up a book called The 4-hour Work Week. Part of this book gave examples of how some people had figured how to earn passive income and in turn be able to travel and sustain themselves.
At the time, I was just graduating college and wasn’t convinced I could take my life on such a path – but it planted a seed and got me thinking differently. I started taking 2-3 week trips to different countries.. Costa Rica, Bali… I was no longer satisfied with the life that I was living back in California. It seemed really silly to me to be paying a huge sum in rent per month, and working basically to live – only saving enough for an annual trip.
After traveling to some of the most unique, beautiful, tropical places I had only dreamed of, I realized that it was actually cheaper in my 3 weeks of travels than it was to be living at home in Southern California. I started to think that maybe it wasn’t completely out of reach.
I made steps in the direction of long term travel and started going through my finances and realistically thinking about it – how do you go about leaving everything behind and exploring the unknown?
I realized that the only way I was ever going to find the courage to do something so “crazy” was to just do it. To not even think about the pros and cons, but to just put one foot in front of the other and take the steps to make it happen. So often we talk ourselves out of decisions that seem scary, and it remains a dream, not a reality.
Something will always come up as you wait for the “right time” – but here’s the catch: it will never be the right time to travel. There will always be reasons to convince yourself that it’s not the right time; bills to pay, weddings to attend, not having enough money saved, not wanting to leave your job, friends, family… people you know will sow the seeds of doubt in your head.
You’ll never know if you’re making the right decision or not until you do it.
I think that there’s a small part deep down inside everyone that is a little lost, or at least dreams of what’s outside of their familiar bubble. Traveling forces you to let go of any predisposed ideas or plans that you had, and quickly turns everything upside down. Things never quite seem to go the way you planned, and that’s the beauty of it.
So, why do we travel?
Maybe just to shake up our complacencies by seeing all of the trials and tribulations that we seldom have to face at home, noticing what we take for granted in life.
Maybe to push ourselves to experience the unknown, forcing us out of our comfort zone. (Those words sound forceful because they are.)
You must teach yourself to get over whatever fears and anxiety you may have, and learn to become extroverted and accepting. Not everyone is born to be social butterfly and has everything figured out with no fear – you just have to fake it ‘til you make it! It’ll start coming more naturally in time.
Santayana said, “There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar; it keeps the mind nimble; it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor.”
Buddhist monks are often vagabonds, in part because they believe in wakefulness. I find it to be very inspirational to live this way. Travel brings about a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful and open… undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed.
This isn’t to say that you’ll come back from a trip guaranteed to be a new person, but the experiences that you encounter along the way will be sure to shape you in one way or another. Whether it’s realizing how grateful you are for everything you once took for granted, or discovering the beauty and simplicity of different cultures and religions around the world.
So, if you don’t already have the desire for wanderlust, what are you waiting for??
The Traveling Yogi