Phwoar, what a mouthful. But it’s true – if you’re thinking about taking some time out to get some serious world travel under your belt, there are a few life decisions you need to make to ensure when the time comes, nothing can hold you back. There are also a few things you need to understand and acknowledge before you embark on an extended trip-of-a-lifetime to avoid nasty surprises pre-, during and post-travel.
Below are seven items to keep in mind – they may be ‘sins’ or ‘sacrifices’ but either way you need to be aware of them, because combined or on their own, some day you may look back and realise at some crucial point they prevented you from doing what you really wanted to do.
1. Are you somebody chasing personal wealth sooner rather than later? Are you desperate to climb the corporate ladder with the ultimate goal of retiring at 40? If so, you need to accept that travel in any long-term or frivolous capacity is not going to happen until you are old enough to join the grey nomad tribe. Travelling for anything longer than a couple of weeks when you’re young = time away from the job = cripples earnings and slows career development. But, if you want to be the youngest partner ever at a Big 4 accounting firm, well then, as Lord Farquaad said, “it’s a sacrifice you’re willing to make”.
2. Don’t commit to a loving pet, especially one with a long lifespan. This might usually be an advantage and selling point of some household animals… all I’m saying is it can’t be that hard to murder a gold fish, capiche?
3. Find someone to commit to with the same goals as you. No matter how great someone is, if the girl you went out with on a Tinder date told you last night she wants a long and prosperous career in banking, 2.4 children and a white picket fence with a fat super while you shared your aspirations of climbing Machu Picchu and learning Latin Spanish in Mexico then you should probably nip this thing in the bud before someone gets hurt.
4. Accept travel is going to swallow up an obscene amount of your money. Both Nat and I have easily spent a house deposit each on travel. Part of this acceptance is letting go of the societal notion you should be “setting yourself up for the future”. As far as I can tell, this is drummed into the population of developed Western nations from birth and while wealth creation for the future is obviously a cornerstone of productivity and completely ingrained in our way of life, it also in my opinion stops young people from exploring their passions and potential creativity and seeking self-fulfillment. Obviously this is a totally #firstworldproblem, but it is an interesting concept. The below video expands on it in detail.
5. All anyone ever talks about these days is #squadgoals thanks to Taylor Swift, but if you decide to take the plunge and head overseas for an extended period of time, you need to know at least some of your friends are going to move on from you in a physical sense. In some ways, by deciding to leave, you already have. While you chase adventure/love/good times in foreign lands they’re going to start moving on with their lives, which may include babies, work, house hunting and mothers-in-law, not necessarily in that order. Or who knows, they could be doing the same as you – just in the opposite hemisphere! This being said, you will still be able to reach out anytime to your true mates, no matter where you or they are in the world, whether it’s to have a two-hour pow wow about nothing, chuckle at memes or ask for help or advice.
PRIDE AND EGO
6. Understand when you leave a stable job and home, at some point money is very likely going to be an issue. And not in the way that you can’t buy new clothes, in the way that you may need to hustle or work just for a bed and a meal.
Furthermore, if you’re the sort of person who thinks certain jobs are beneath you, you better lose that attitude. Accept that no-one will care that back home you were a team leader, social media guru or logistics analyst. What matters now is how quickly you can make the bed, sort out the blocked toilet and fix the leak in the hallway.
7. Get used to looking and living a little – for want of a better word – rugged. This will be in the period leading up to travel, as well as once your feet have landed on foreign soil. Forget Vogue, your new aesthetic is the Big Issue. Once upon a time, Nat and I combined went to the salon every eight weeks, had new nails every fortnight (to cover up our anxiety-fuelled shared habit of biting our nails like rabid dogs), got eyelash extensions every three – four weeks, plus forked out on the regular for laser hair removal, fake tan, gym and hot yoga memberships and teeth bleaching kits . Throw on top of that cosmetics only bought at Mecca, and frequent new outfits, whether they were for the beach, exercise, work or for a night out and you can see a huge portion of our earnings were spent putting a certain face forward to the world.
As we save to go overseas, we have gradually sacrificed every single one of the above expenditures. Has doing this impacted our life? Maybe a little – Nat’s over wearing the same outfits to work and my hair needs a cut so badly I literally have to lube it up to get a brush through it – but would we ever go back to spending the same amount of money on personal presentation? No goddamn way.
You may not be sleeping on thousand thread count sheets, but your life is so much richer for travel. There is no monetary value that can be put on becoming a citizen of the world in comparison to living a sheltered existence. The amount of knowledge and joy you will gain is unbelievable.
If I can’t convince you, maybe the video below can. It literally compares the number of days in your lifetime to jelly beans. After the huge list of mundane tasks we have to do to live – sleep, eat, care for ourselves and our family, etc – our time on this planet which we have true autonomy over is frighteningly limited. I suppose the question is, what will you do with your jelly beans? How will you choose to spend the comparatively tiny portion of your life that you alone can exercise the power of choice over? Will it be more mundanity or will it be the unknown – new sights, smells, tastes and experiences?