While traveling around the world, it wasn’t uncommon to hear people casually refer to what I was doing as some sort of “life crisis”, running away from a boring life back home to “find myself”, whatever that means. Just as frequently, I would hear people say they wished they could “just go and travel” in order to escape a life they felt trapped in. These are the people I want to grab by the lapels, shake ferociously, and scream “LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE AND YOU WON’T NEED TO ESCAPE IT!”
Of course, this wouldn’t change anything, and they would just mutter something passive aggressive about how it “must be nice to be able to travel” as they poured more money into a new car payment, a too-big rent payment, and random subscriptions they never use. I would smile and nod, grabbing my tiny backpack and backing slowly away toward my next flight that cost next to nothing.
Your life is full of decisions, and every day you make them based on your priorities in life. The majority of people aim for a life of comfort and easy decisions, choosing another night of fast food, mindless television, and staying up too late to get a full night’s sleep. The next day the alarm goes off and they crawl slowly out of bed, wanting to make even fewer decisions because their willpower is so beaten down from the decisions the day before.
Break that cycle right now. Your life is defined just as much by the things you say “no” to as the things you say “yes” to. If you want to travel, make it your first priority in life. Kill that cable subscription and spend that time reading books and websites about travel. Go buy some healthy food and learn to cook, so you spend less money and have more energy. Go to bed in time to get 8 hours of sleep and you will wake up renewed and full of willpower to do it all again the next day.
As you keep doing this, it will slowly become your default, and soon a trip to get a drive-thru burger will seem expensive and unnecessary. Spending a small fortune going out for a night of drinks will seem silly when you compare it to how many weeks you could live in Cambodia for the same price. Each day you will have more drive as you get closer and closer to that trip, and it will get easier and easier.
Soon you will find yourself immersed in foreign cultures, eating amazing new foods and making amazing new friends. Reaching your goal will reinforce that you made the right decisions, and you will return home to find even more ways to work travel into your life. Meanwhile, your friends will only see the photos from the trip and your stories, which seem unbelievable to them. They will begin telling you their woes and how they wish they could just go and travel, because they never saw all of the things you said “no” to, all of the new habits you built, all of the work you put into achieving your goals.
You will think about all of the nights you didn’t spend in front of the TV, instead choosing to research and save up. You will remember adventures with new friends in foreign countries. And you will shrug your shoulders and say “it’s great, you should try it.”