Do you dream of traveling the world? Of quitting your life and setting off on a grand trip of a lifetime? Of course you do. Most everyone does.
Many people sit at their desk jobs day in and day out, just dreaming of dropping everything and flying off to some far-flung corner of the world. They sit and stare out of the window or ignore the customers as they fling their groceries through the bar code scanner, dreaming of a hammock on a tropical beach or the adventure of a life on the road.
Yet for the vast majority of people, that is where it will end.
They will go back to their dreary little jobs, their own little bubble of existence and they will dismiss those dreams as just that. Dreams. They will dig themselves deeper and deeper into that comfort zone until one day they will find themselves so mired in it that it seems impossible to claw their way back out again.
But it really doesn’t have to be this way! Take it from me, I know, I’ve done it! I’ve quit work, bought a plane ticket and disappeared around the world on a whim for long stretches of time! And you can, too!
Ever heard of a bucket list? That little checklist of things that most people want to do before they kick the proverbial bucket? Well, travel is right up there on most people’s top 10 — top 3, even.
I mean seriously, what’s the alternative here, people? Stay in your comfort zone because it’s easier? Stay at home, keep that boring job, and clock in and out every single day in that endless cycle of groundhog day banality? You will work for another 20, 30, 40 years or more, reach retirement age and then get forced to carry on working anyway! And just before you finally drop dead from sheer exhaustion, your last words on this earth will be “I wish I had.”
There is a wonderful quote by Mark Twain that I absolutely love and have always tried to live by.
Don’t get me wrong: I know it takes guts to follow your dreams. Believe me, I’ve been there and done that. It takes guts to pull yourself out of your comfort zone and do something completely different. That’s totally natural. It’s normal to be afraid when faced with something daunting. That will never really go away.
The big trick is to not let those feelings stop you from following your dreams. Because when you do, when you overcome them and take that first step you will feel like you have been given wings. The world is a vast, wonderful and amazing place, and it is yours for the taking. Anything is possible and you will have reminded yourself that you are not some mindless drone following the same path as everyone around you, you are capable of much, much more than that.
So when you take that first step, how do you turn those dreams into a reality? Here’s the good part, it is surprisingly easy.
1. Start saving.
You may have had the dream of backpacking or traveling the world for some time, but what have you done to make it a reality? Start saving NOW. Backpacking costs money, and you will need a big pot of it to go on an extended round the world trip or gap year (or more).
It isn’t all that difficult to do, just budget well. Do you really need that expensive sandwich every day at lunch, or that cup of coffee from the fancy coffee shop every morning? Just remember that cash you just handed over for your big sandwich will have paid for a beach hut in Thailand. You don’t have to be a total recluse either, just minimize those big nights out, cut back on the DVD buying marathons and the luxuries, just save!
Make a monthly budget, stick to it, and give yourself a target to reach in six months’ time. It is surprising how much having a goal can galvanize you.
2. Get a rough plan.
While you are saving, keep the inspiration alive by planning for your big trip. Get on the internet and read about the amazing travels and adventures other people are having, find people that really inspire you. Grab every and any brochure or travel literature on places you think you may want to see or things you may want to do. Join a few travel forums and talk to like-minded people.
As you do this, you should start formulating a rough plan of where you want to go. Get a big map and pin it on your wall, then stick a load of pins in the places you must visit on your gap year or backpacking adventure. It doesn’t matter about the practicalities at this point, just get excited about the places that inspire you.
3. Narrow the plan down.
Once you have all of that, your excitement levels should be brimming over. Your round the world adventure is looking more and more like a possibility isn’t it? Told you it would! You have a long list of places that inspire you, a rough plan, and by now you should have a fair sized pot of savings, too.
Now is the time to start getting serious about that plan. Narrow down the rough route you have into something more practical.
Ask yourself where you want to start and where you want to finish. Do you want to visit just one country, one region or travel the world? Are there any specific dates you need to be in certain countries by to take in certain festivals? What is a reasonable and realistic route to be able to do all this?
A little bit more specific research is required here. Have a look at suggested route itineraries adventure travel companies have on their books and copy them. Go and speak to the experts, travel agents who specialize in backpacking or other backpackers on travel websites and forums who will be able to advise you on how to whittle your rough plan into something practical and reasonable.
This is the point where your dreams start to coalesce into something more tangible. This is the point where your fantasies about traveling the world are about to become a reality.
4. Start sorting out the practicalities.
By now, the light at the end of the tunnel is more than in sight, you can almost feel the soft sea air on your face already, smell the aromatic peanut and lemongrass on the air from Thai street vendors, taste that beer on that sun kissed beach in Mexico. In short — your dreams are becoming reality.
So now is the time to sort out the necessary practicalities so you are ready for when your flying out date finally arrives.
Get your budget sorted — you will have saved up most of what you need already and will hopefully continue to do so as you start your serious planning, but now is the time to find out how much your daily budget should be in the places you are wanting to visit and how long you want to stay in them for and see if your savings stack up. Research what vaccinations you will need and get them sorted now (the earlier the better), and see if you will need to apply for any visas beforehand.
5. Take the first step to the rest of your life.
After you have done all this you should have a pretty good stash of money saved up and most of the planning and practicalities sorted. Now it’s time to go and buy your ticket. Believe it or not, this is often the hardest step for people because they see that plane ticket as the point of no return. Up until now it has all still been just a plan, a dream. Actually handing over the money makes it real. Once you have it, your course is locked in. But don’t worry, once you do buy your ticket, then all you have to do is look forward to your trip and sorting out any last minute details and planning, there is no turning back now.
It really doesn’t matter if your planned departure date is six weeks or six months away, whatever time you have just means more time for saving, planning and enjoying the excitement and anticipation of going away.
And that is it. That really is all it takes to drag yourself out of your comfort zone and turn your dreams into reality! It doesn’t seem like much, does it? Well, that’s because it isn’t. Once you have broken it down into little manageable chunks, you realize the impossible has suddenly become possible, your dreams have actually come within reach, and you can grab them with both hands if you want to. All it takes is the will and the guts to do it!
So go and enjoy your travels, say goodbye to the mundane 9 to 5 existence, and say hello to sipping mango juice on a sun kissed island. Get on that plane and experience backpacking the world first hand and realize that you can live your dreams.