A new year is traditionally the time for new beginnings and new starts, make this year the one where you finally change your life for the better and follow your dreams of travel.
As the festive season quickly becomes a distant memory, the decorations are pulled down and the last of the oversized turkey finally gets polished off, the New Year looms over us all like some domineering force of peer pressure, filling us with sincere desires to revamp, transform and better ourselves.
So as we start to come out of the stupor from the end of year festivities and a whole, brand new year starts to roll out in front of us, a lot of minds will inevitably turn to thoughts of things they want to accomplish in the new year.
The Dreaded New Year Resolutions.
Many people will make the usual resolutions of course, the same ones they did last year and the year before that. Lose weight, stop eating the entire packet of biscuits, spend less time at work, exercise more, finally get round to decorating the bedroom … the list is long and uninspiring and are usually forgotten by everyone in the time it takes them to finally enter the gym, see the treadmill and remember that losing their flabby gut will actually take some work!
Many others though will make one of the most popular resolutions out there, to travel more in the new year. To finally see some of the world. And again, most of them will return to work, settle back into that comfortable routine and the safety of their comfortable little bubble and will stare out of that office window onto the dreary car park, always dreaming about what could have been.
But some of them, some of those brave, awesome souls who dare to step outside of their comfort zone will do more than that. Some of them will actually decide that this is the year they finally realise their dreams and take some positive steps to actually do something about it!
‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’Mark Twain.
Taking That First Step.
That was me, over twenty years ago now. I had the exact same dream of seeing the world that so many others had but never really thought it was possible. It was just a dream. A fantasy. Another New Years resolution to consign to the bin along with the empty biscuit wrapper.
But I couldn’t shake that feeling of wanting to travel. I was scouring Lonely Planet guides for inspiration, back when they actually fulfilled that function, I was reading books written by great explorers and watching endless Michael Palin documentaries on TV. I was even watching repeats of Keith Floyd, the perpetually drunk TV chef, and marvelling at the locations he was finding himself in as he whipped up a local delicacy and drank all the wine.
I didn’t know exactly how, where or when but I just knew that travel had to be part of my life that year.
I never made a specific New Year’s resolution as such, in fact it wasn’t even New Years when I finally made that decision. I simply knew I wanted to see the world. I knew I wanted to travel.
And I did.
And I never stopped.
I flew to South East Asia with barely a clue what I was doing for that very first adventure and it changed my life. I didn’t think about it too much, I just bought the ticket and went, and I had one of the best times of my life on a trip that absolutely changed my outlook on life forever.
Since then I have spent the last twenty plus years backpacking independently around the world on both long and short trips, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes months, sometimes for a full gap year and sometimes a lot longer, the length of time never really mattered because I was travelling. I was following my dream!
I just went out and did it! And I haven’t stopped since then.
I have done many other things since then too, but I fitted that around my dreams of travel, I made my career fit around my life the way I wanted to live it. I never settled for wht society thought I should do because I damn well didn’t want to!
And since then I have carried that mindset with me in everything I do. I have never let myself be chained down to societal expectations of what I should be or should do. If I have wanted something then I have gone out and got it!
If I wanted something, I went out and got it. If I wanted to travel, I did it.
I have had many other dreams and ambitions along the way of course, and in that time spent travelling the world I have done more than most people will in a lifetime. I have gained two separate academic degrees, built a good career as a specialist nurse, ticked endless things off my personal bucket list and I have travelled and seen the whole world whilst doing it.
Not bad eh?
How Did I Do All Of This?
I wanted to!
That’s it! I really just wanted to. There are no tricks or secrets here, I knew what I wanted out of life and just as importantly what I didn’t want. I dropped what I didn’t want by the wayside and sacrificed and worked my arse off to get the things I did! And those things included travel!
If I Can Do It, Then You Can Too.
Because believe me, there is absolutely nothing special about me. I’m just an ordinary guy with an ordinary job. I’m not a playboy billionaire, I’m not a lottery winner or an MP with a vast expense account and 6 months paid holiday a year and I certainly don’t have a huge trust fund or a credit card that mummy and daddy pay off each month. Hell, I wish I did!
All I have is my desire to make travel a priority in my life and my will to make that happen!
I Am Not Lucky!
I get so many people saying to me how lucky I am to have travelled so much, how lucky I am to be able to do what I do and how they wish they could do the same. I’ve heard the same stuck record so often now it has become a monotonous drone.
It isn’t luck that allows me to travel so much, it isn’t some quirky twist of fate or a miraculous lottery win, it is simple, old fashioned desire. Desire, focus, sacrifice and determination.
I know what I want, I work damn hard to get it and I make a conscious decision to make travel a priority. Yet when I tell these exact same people that there is absolutely nothing stopping them from doing the exact same thing they look at me as if I have a screw loose or I’m the Antichrist for daring to suggest that they could possibly take a break from their oh so hard lives, and then they reel off the same tired self prophesying excuses and justifications as to why it is impossible for them.
If you want something hard enough you will always find a way to get it. If not, you will always find an excuse.
Now I didn’t use a New Year resolution to kickstart my travel dreams but the process is the same, and if New Years is the catalyst to get your dreams off the ground then use it! As the new year begins and thoughts of travel start to enter your dreams, just follow them! Make those resolutions if you need to, write your dreams down and manifest them, look in the mirror and order yourself to get off your arse and do it. I don’t care how you do it or what process you need, just do it!
Don’t listen to the excuses, ignore all the negativity and just go for it! If your dream is to travel the world – for whatever reason – then there is absolutely nothing stopping you but yourself!
Anyone can follow their travel dreams, anyone can escape the rat race or claw their way out of the rut they have created for themselves in their lives, anyone can travel the world if they just want it enough!
If You Want It, Then Take It!
The only thing stopping you from following your dreams of travel is you. Everything else is an excuse.
You just need that desire, that craving, that yearning that this is what you want to do with your life, then the sheer will to make that happen. So for those of you out there who are on the verge of making that step but are still plagued with the same doubts and questions that everyone has, then I hope use this article to wash them out of your mind because trust me, you can do it!
Don’t Miss Your Opportunity.
Life is very short and very fragile. Believe me. I’ve seen far too many examples of that in my nursing career. I’ve seen lives cut tragically short and I’ve seen lives come to a long, natural end, and I have seen far too many people at the end say ‘I wish I had’.
Don’t be one of those people. Don’t waste your life by wishing you could be doing something instead of actually doing it.
‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.’Henry Ford.
If you want to travel the world, go, do it. It really is that simple. I can help you with the logistics and all the practical information you need, I can help you with all the tips and the advice you can handle, but it is you and only you who has to take that first step. Just change your mindset, make your dreams and aspirations a priority and believe that you can change your life. Believe that you can live your dreams and travel the world on your own terms and make it happen!
What did you think of the article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.
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Great advice and I love the quotes:) I often feel like I have the same conversations with people too and sometimes they don’t realise that they can work and still take the opportunity to travel…
Thanks! The Mark Twain quote is an all time favourite of mine. You can lead the horse to water I suppose. Thanks for the comment.
Great inspirational post Michael! If only more people followed their dreams like this. It often seems difficult but in practice it isn’t…
Thank you! I completely agree, it can be so easy to follow your dreams. Thanks for the comment.
I love this! So inspirational!
I agree completely! This is pretty much me so that’s not surprising! I have spent probably over 1/3 of the last ten years on the road. I still managed to have a successful career, go back to uni and do another degree and post grad, have two kids, get married and buy a house!
I get annoyed when people say I am lucky. I prioritise travel and make sacrifices. That is how we do it! Apart from the luck of being born in a country where all this possible, there was no other luck involved. I get annoyed when people question how we afford it but then talk about all the things they buy and how they “had to” upgrade their house. That’s fine if that’s what they want, but that’s what i afford travel and they don’t, not because I am lucky.
Exactly, well said! It’s all about priorities, and if travel is a priority or a dream for you, then you will find a way to make it happen. Everything else is just an excuse! Thanks for the comment. 🙂
Awesome post!! Really enjoyed reading it!!
Love the quote at the beginning – how often are we all guilty of saying ‘I wish I would have done or tried that.’
And it is true! You don’t need to be rich to travel! All you need is the passion for new experiences and hunger for adventure!! And a lot of planning, organizing, and preparation!! It is our lives, it is up to us how we live them!
That quote is my favourite too. We do only get one life, but if we live it well then one is enough! ;D Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
I too love this post and completely agree, it’s all about priorities! The world is out there, you just need to make the decision to want to go…and go! It makes me sad when people want to travel and don’t but there’s only so much you can do to push people into following their dreams! Thank you for inspiring people to do just that though.
Thank you! You’re right, I can’t push but hopefully I can lead by example 😉 Anyone can follow their travel dreams if they want to.
What an inspirational piece. Ive heard so often “I can’t (insert excuse here)” and I roll my eyes, and how silly people can sound. My fave quote is ‘Don’t listen to the excuses, ignore all the negativity”… right on!
Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed it!
It really is about “just doing it,” isn’t it? I hate it when people tell me I’m lucky — I obviously am lucky in many ways (health, family, boyfriend, growing up well fed, etc.) but travel is not one of them. It’s not about luck, it’s about desire, just like you’ve said. I’m willing to sacrifice just about everything to live on the road–yes, there are people who can’t do that, due to various circumstances, but usually the people who get jealous of me are just as “lucky” as me. They just prioritize other things…
Exactly Syd. Thank you for the comment. 😀
A great piece! And I totally agree with you. I am travelling the world now for a year without much financial preparations but that doesn’t really matter, anyone can travel in their own luxury 😉 I also know many people who tell me that they can’t do what I do, they can’t take their bags and travel the world. Well I think that some people really can’t, they hold on to their lives like it is too much and secretly they don’t really want what I have, they just like the idea of it 😉 I love this phrase: “So don’t waste it by wishing you could be doing something instead of actually doing it”. Now I’ve seen a bit of the world I know that everything in that sentence is truth and life is too short to not do what we wish we could be doing! Great article, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Thanks, you are so right. Most people just don’t want it enough, they allow their fears or excuses to dominate their dreams, but anyone can travel the world if they want it enough. I appreciate the comment thank you.