The number one question I am consistently asked is ‘How do you travel like you do?’ This is a seemingly simple question yet it is one that I have continually struggled to answer. I think where I struggle is with the fact that the query subtly implies several different questions, making one blanket answer inadequate. Dissected down, they are really asking: “How can you afford to travel for such long periods of time?” “What do you do with all of your stuff while you are gone?” “Where do you sleep/eat and how do you get to where you are going?” “Aren’t you scared something is going to happen to you?” “What about your family?” Now you can see that this simple “how” question actually demands a very complex answer… or maybe they are just asking me the wrong question.
After a lot of thought on this issue, I have decided not to answer it at all; at least not yet. My response will be about WHY I travel so that we have a foundation on which we can move forward (and by the way, even if your end all goal in life isn’t to travel, the same question should be asked for whatever you are passionate about). Answering this question is, to me, a lot more straightforward and relevant. It is also a question I continuously ask myself so I can redefine what I aim to get out of my life. So here are the reasons why I travel:
- Travel makes me a better person. Nothing in my life has provided me with more personal growth than being on the road: spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. The constant challenges and discomfort build character, empathy and understanding. Personal development now will enable me to live a more rewarding life with fewer regrets when I lay on my deathbed.
- Traveling is exciting. When you step outside your comfort zone and into exotic lands with different practices and customs, even the mundane becomes an adventure. You don’t have to rock climb or bungee jump, all you have to do is be there. Meet international people in your hostel, Couchsurf with locals or just go to the store; the world awaits you.
- We have the ability to change the world. When you travel for the right reasons and with the right mindset, you create a ripple effect. Every experience and every interaction creates an exchange that ultimately changes all parties involved. And since we are the product of these experiences, the results of all future interactions will be exponentially positive.
- The word is a big amazing place and if I don’t start now I will see nothing. There are 7-billion unique individuals, 6,500 languages, 196 countries and an infinite amount of ideas from which we can learn. Those numbers make me feel small, but traveling helps me feel connected to the big picture. I am a member of all humanity.
I would like you to look at your life right now. I’m not going to ask you ‘how’ you bought that TV, or ‘how’ you got your job, or even ‘how’ you are still putting up with that significant other you constantly complain about. I know how you do it (or I could at least figure it out if I wanted to). What I want to know is ‘why’. And if you can’t tell me why, and I want a passionate response, then I think you need to investigate it a little bit more yourself. If your response is anywhere along the lines of comfortable, convenient, secure or ‘it’s what I’m supposed to do’, then we have a problem. Life is too short to settle. Figure out what you want and then make the necessary changes to make it happen. Once you answer the ‘why’, the ‘how’ becomes easy.
“One of the most amazing characteristics people have is that when we want something bad enough, we always figure out a way to get it.”
This isn’t a ‘holier than thou’ speech by any means and I hope no one took it that way. As I said above, travel and my lifestyle are most certainly not for everyone. But when it comes down to it, I can passionately express to you why I do what I do and live the way I live. I can honestly say I am happy, not just content. I hope that you can do the same. In the comment section below I would love to hear what you are passionate about and what steps you are taking (or not taking) to live your life accordingly.