As humans, we’re creatures of habit. Over time, we get used to the same routine. We wake up, go to work, spend time with family and friends, go to sleep and do it all over again the next morning, trying to fit three balanced meals in there somewhere, too. While there is comfort and stability in the familiar, most of us also get an itch, at some point or another, to venture out into the unknown.
Maybe you took a gap year before college and decided to spend 12 months backpacking in Europe. Maybe you took an epic cross-country road trip for your honeymoon. Or, maybe you haven’t had your grand adventure yet. Maybe you’re still in your office, running late for that conference call because you’re browsing plane tickets. Does wanderlust keep you up at night? Do you dream of exotic locales, foreign cuisines and places, people and sites you’ve never encountered yet? If so, you may be ready to make that incredible journey that keeps calling you. Here are five signs it’s time to take that first step.
1. You’re getting restless.
We all get a little bored when those board meetings drag on just a few hours too long. We may get fidgety when we’re forced to wait in line at the DMV or when it seems we’re hitting every single red light on the way home from work. Yet, being restless because of temporary setbacks is one thing. Feeling a deeply rooted dissatisfaction with your current environment is another.
If you wake up in the same bed, in the same place every day, you might be itching to book that flight to somewhere new. That’s a normal reaction and it doesn’t mean you don’t love where you are — most of the time. It simply means you need to stretch your legs, rest and rise in a new spot for a few days, explore new terrains and meet new people. There’s the physical aspect of sitting still for too long and then there’s the mental. We’re fluid creatures who need change, whether we like it or not, and if you’ve been stagnant for a while, it might be time to make a big move.
2. You want a challenge.
Have you always dreamed of jumping out of an airplane? What about bungee jumping off a bridge? These are the kinds of bucket-list items that people usually only dream of, but so few actually do. We’re naturally drawn to the thrilling parts of adventures but sometimes don’t feel that we’re up to the task of actually following through with them. Yet, the idea still pulls us like a magnet, anyway.
If you find yourself feeling unmotivated or sluggish in your current environment, it might be that you’re not being challenged enough. Like an accelerated student who’s far ahead of his classmates, you’re simply bored. You need a situation that will test your aptitude, grow your strength, and develop your courage. A grand adventure might do just that. As you start to think about where you’d like to go, consider if there is an area in your life that still feels undeveloped or unconquered.
Do you have an intense fear of heights? Consider going with a friend to zipline across the rainforest. Does deep water intimidate you? Learn more about how to respect the water by taking a SCUBA diving class from a certified instructor. In short, if you want a challenge you can usually find one by traveling just a little outside of your comfort zone, and that’s exactly what adventurous travel can do.
3. You can’t stop daydreaming about travel.
Do you have an inspiration board at your office or at home that’s filled with nothing but images of palm trees, sandy white beaches and tropical sunsets? Or, maybe yours includes the Eiffel Tower, Machu Picchu or another historical site you can’t wait to go visit. Either way, if you find yourself always looking out of the window and daydreaming about your next big journey, you may be ready for a new adventure.
There’s nothing wrong with visualizing yourself somewhere different. Studies have shown that, especially when we’re stressed out, closing our eyes and picturing our happy place, even if it’s somewhere we’ve never been before, can be therapeutic and calming. However, you may be ready to act on your meditation if it’s all you eat, breathe and sleep.
4. You’re at a season of life where it makes sense.
For all of us, there are certain seasons when we’re better able to take a big adventure than others. For instance, if you just started your dream job and haven’t built any vacation time up yet, your bosses may squint at you and turn up their noses if you ask for a month off to see the world. Other times, however, making the trek makes perfect sense.
You may be a single freelancer or virtual employee who can work from anywhere and as such, has no ties to a specific place. Perhaps you’ve built up enough time off at your job that you can leave for a year and still keep your role. Or, maybe you’re one-half of a married couple and your kids have finally reached an age where they can travel well and remember the experience. When this is the case, suddenly, legendary travels such as camping in France or staying in a yurt off the California Pacific Coast Highway don’t seem so out of reach. If you’ve reached such a time in your life, you may be better able physically, emotionally, and financially to take the leap.
5. You need a break from monotony.
Sometimes, we spend so much time doing the same thing over and over again that it eventually loses its appeal. That job you took after college, the one that seemed so promising and that you absolutely aced for the first three years? By year seven, the shine might have worn off just a bit and now you’re drowning in paperwork and an inbox that never seems to clear.
If you’re looking around at your same-old, same-old and wishing that you could get just a small break from the ins and outs of your daily routine, you’re likely ready to make those big plans. You might be surprised to find that after you take time away and indulge that adventurous side of yourself, you’ll come back to your regular life rejuvenated and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
Realizing the Grand Adventure You Really Need
If you’ve answered “yes” to most or all of the above questions, don’t rush out and compare your airline ticket options just yet. Rather, take the time to really think about why you feel the need to explore. It might just be an unshakeable feeling that there is beauty and grandeur out there that you need to see.
On the other hand, your wanderlust may be at the root of a deeper issue of discontent, in which case no short-term trip will be enough to satisfy that craving for more. Once you understand the true reason why you’re ready to take flight, you’ll be better prepared to soak in the moments and completely indulge once you get there.