"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page"
This quote from Johnny last november is exactly how I feel about travelling. We live on an amazing planet and those of us who are lucky (and unlucky) enough to live in the 'first world' have an opportunity to see that planet. Why stay in a little box if we are given the choice to see outside it? I want to change my view of life and the world, and I am lucky enough to have been given a chance to do that. Most of you (though not all) posters on this thread seem to be in your 20s and 30s, and are looking at the travel thing as something you almost have to get out of your systems - some of you before you 'settle down' and some of you because you feel you did the responsible adult thing too young and now want out. (Incidentally it's hard to read several posts which claim to have ditched 'the job, house, wife'. Funny how that never reads 'job, house, husband' - sad to see some guys still see women as an accessory in the negative sense of a tie)
I've worked for 25 yrs in the professional world, travelled as much as I could during that time, being lucky enough to be in education and have long summer breaks and so on. Now I'm taking off to South America, Nepal and China in September for 8 or 9 months, doing some volunteer work and a lot of travel. Mostly alone, although my partner will join me for some of the time. I didn't ditch him, I didn't sell my house (but have to plan v carefully re mortgage) and I didn't hand in my notice (got a year's leave of absence, unpaid). You get tax back, and if you volunteer (in my case in an Andean cloud forest and in a rural village in lower Himalaya) you pay far far less for living than you do in our expensive cities in the west. I'm looking forward to this year so much, because of so many things, but mostly so that I can learn more about our world, which is so threatened. And to see animals, birds and plants that I have been fascinated by since I was a tiny child. Firsthand! I am afraid, yes, but the excitement and the knowledge that I will be free of the stress of my job and other home-related stuff, meeting people who are so incredibly different from those I have been surrounded by every day for so long, and giving my eyes, ears and tongue an amazing break and refresher, through scenery, faces, creatures, light, weather, birdsong, speaking a different language (learning Spanish intensively).
Every morning I find myself driving to work (another issue - I'm not proud that my carbon footprint to Ecuador will probably take me my time working in the jungle to pay off) and stuck at a certain roundabout, and every morning I think 'What am I doing?' Every morning, the same thing, the same place, the same faces at work, the same deadlines year in, year out. What for? Who said we have to do this? I hear a lot of moral self-judgement in the posts on this thread - where is it cast in stone that we have to live in this repetitive, unimaginitive, etiquette-laden way? Why do we feel the need to justify the desire to travel and see our own earth? It all smacks to me of western christian values, ideas that were developed in repressed eras centuries ago, very prominent still in the U.S.
Let go - stop judging. Open your eyes - that's what will happen if you travel. My mother is convinced that I will be a) bitten by a venomous snake b) contract amoebic dyssentry (the worst kind) c) be infested by brain-invading water-born parasites, or d) be driven over the edge of a bottomless abyss in a nepalese bus. All of these things will happen within hours of my arriving 'abroad' and all of them will result in death, probably after days of tortuous suffering. And I say to her 'well you know, mum, if I have to die sometime, that will be a good death'. Lose the fear. I have to tell myself this too, as it's the first time I will have gone so far away alone.
And when I come back (and hope my cat, now in her 18th year, is still with us) I will consider my life again. And maybe I'll sell my house then, and hand in my notice (but hopefully not dump the man) and embark on a completely different life, writing up my journals as a book, who knows? The thing is, I will have that different perspective. And that will be worth everything. To all of you who are planning a big trip, good luck. I'll let you know.
samsara2 and Eleniki are on to something -- I would hope that it doesn't have to be one or the other. I'm still young, and I hope that my life will be filled with it all: a fulfilling job, sharing important events with my close family and friends, a house (and mortgage!), and, of course, travel! I think it's easier in some cases -- many people have posted about taking a leave of absence from work, and many people freelance for various industries, which is a great compromise. Still others buy a house and just rent it for the time you're gone. You have to be able to snatch any opportunities when they come, and that's applicable to every aspect of life, including the right job and the right travel experience.
Everyone can certainly agree that you want to be able to look back and have as few regrets as possible. I'd like to think that by trying to experience everything you love in one lifetime, you have to be able to take a little from both sides of the debate, and perhaps opt for a different ladder . . . one that's a little trickier to climb and boasts a better view from the top.
It's quite reassuring that so many of us had similar feelings about leaving work. I considered for years leaving work and going travelling...the final decision required months of agonising. I never regretted the decision. I never thought about it even. Like many others you realise there is so much more to life...having a career and progressing onwards and upwards doesn't seem important anymore. Being happy and healthy and having peace of mind. If a career can give you those then great, a means to an end. but it's just that...in one year of travelling I've learnt so much about who I am. become so much more confident. I've had some stumbling blocks but I've treated them as stepping stones and picked myself up every time. I feel like the real me is starting to emerge. You can start worrying about falling behind but if you're honest with yourself is that really so important to you or are you just using that as excuse to mask the fear you have? I used a million and one excuses but when I looked at my cons column closely, I realised it was really just my fear talking. Any big life changes always require a leap of faith but I have never met a person who has regretted making that leap.
Quoting jonny b
I was chatting with a friend of mine (my barber actually!) the other week about backpacking rtw....he said to me "why waste your money on backpacking when you can spend the money on buying a flat? All you'll get from backpacking is memories and experiences"
That has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard.
What exactly IS our life without experiences, memories and friendships made along the way?
Responding to the last comment, life is experiences. Some experiences are best had when travalling, some are best had when buying and living in a flat.
Some people are ready to travel, others are ready to settle down and have kids. Wanting to have a certain experience does not make others wrong, just different than you.
Everyone has their way of experiencing the world.
That's a good point the last person makes...you have to travel when it feels right for you. A friend told me that you know instinctively when the time is right and that certainly was the case in my case. It's all about being honest and true to yourself.
Me and my g/f have decided to go RTW for 12 months in Jan 2008 (still planning) we actually work in the same building, hate getting up of the m0rnings to go in there and hate every minute in there! I said to people all I think of is waking up 6am in the UK to get dressed and spend 8 hours behind a desk taking grief of people you dont even know and are trying to help or wake up every morning in different countries with the world at your feet freedom to go where yo uwant and noone to answer too!! I think it takes approx 0.00000001 of a second to think of which one yo uwould rather do!!
You are going to love every minute of it!
Shew guys, feel like throwing this laptop out the window right now and sprinting for the door. Had some crazy ideas in mind for SA and now I'm convinced I HAVE to go and do them. Great post ,
Wow!!! I just love this post.
Staff Jam I looked at your profile and noticed that you have booked a trip to Oz. Well done you!! Only for 3 weeks but it is a step in the right direction.
My husband and I have been talking about doing a RTW trip for what seems forever. We had a house and decided to sell before we went on our trip (long story but it would have been a financial burden while we were away). It took 18 months to sell!! Ridiculous I know, but now we are free and after all that time have finally bought our RTW tickets. YAY!! We are heading off in August. Since buying the tickets I have been freaking out a bit wondering if we were doing the right thing. Even though we have been talking about it for such a long time I was wondering if we would ever get the opportunity to do it. After reading this post I am SO ready to go. I know that it could be hard at times but I am sure it will be an experience that both of us will cherish forever.