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Next step: The World

Travel Forums General Talk Next step: The World

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1. Posted by Tanianol (Inactive 13 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

"When nothing is sure, everything is possible."

I saw that quote right after I opened up this thread. That's me.

I'm a senior in high school with no idea about what to do for my future. I mean, I have good grades, a 30 on the ACT, I can get into relatively any college I want, get scholarships, whatever.

I wrote this a little while ago, when my mind was ranting, and it expresses what I want to say:


I want to travel the world. Yes, everyone wants to do it. Everyone wants to travel around the world, see the seven wonders, backpack through Europe, visit Mecca and the Taj Mahal. Everyone wants to escape their small corner of the world once in a while.

That’s not what I mean.

I want to experience the world. I want to experience the world and all of its cultures. But not like that. I don’t want to work 8 hours every day in a cubicle with a few weeks off every year where I can fly to a Tourist resort in Mexico City or Bangkok. I don’t want to eat at a McDonalds in China. I don’t want to spend my entire life miserable in an office, waiting for those few precious weeks a year when I can experience a miniscule glimmer of what I’d hoped and dreamed of in my youth.

That’s not what I mean.

I want to help people. I want to meet people. I want to volunteer at an orphanage in Mexico. I want my feet to be covered in callouses and blisters as I trek across a dusty dirt road. I want my legs like a Viking from riding a bike through the length of Chile, drinking mate from a gourd offered to me from someone I happen to meet. I want to climb a mountain in Patagonia, celebrate Paska in Russia, and attend a wedding in Saudi Arabia. I want to wander the streets of Malaysia for hours until I find just the right stall to buy some food – a stall with no menu that sells one dish and one dish only and never makes it the same twice. I want to barter for rugs in Iran, visit temples in India, wander through Mongolia. I want to sail from island to island in French Polynesia, Indonesia, South and Central America. I want to experience the cuisine of Africa.

But it’s more than just that. And it’s much more than simply an urge to see the base stones of ancient and wonderful places and sights – Tenochtitlan, the Great Wall of China, the Colloseum in Rome, Easter Island. In the long run, all of that is of little importance to me. What really matters is the living stone – the people. The sights, the sounds, the vibrant colors, the food exploding with taste and spice. The culture. The love. I want to experience it all. Walking or biking through tiny villages, with little more than running water if even that, but a lot of pride. But not just going through them. Staying there, for a feast, a celebration, getting to know the people, learn their customs. In my experience, the less conveniences a person has, the less space, technology – the more love.

And perhaps one of the most important things of all – the food. Imagine the ammount of cuisines, dishes, ingredients we’ve never even heard of, much less tasted. Think of the countries whos names we don’t even know. Add to that many groups of people, with many dialects and customs and cuisines. All of them wonderful. Wandering the streets of Japan before sunrise, looking for the freshest sushi stall – made with fish that was still swimming. I want, in my travels – to try everything. Everything. And I don’t want all my experiences to be limited to restaurants or street vendors in any way – mostly, I want to be invited into the houses of the people, and be honored with their home made food – the most appreciated thing one can recieve.

I don’t want things. I don’t want trinkets and cheap video games and material things that don’t matter. I want EXPERIENCES. I live in Illinois – I’ve only ever been to a few states. I am an IGNORTANT AMERICAN! I know nothing of the real world.


Ah, God! I'm not a writer by any means, but that's my dream. If it was up to me, I'd just buy a sail boat, and sail around the world...eating...Sometimes I tell this too people and they think I'm kidding, other times they just think I'm being ridiculous. Ah, God! I'm only 17, I have so much time! But I don't want to wait until, 20 years from now, I'm stuck in some job I have no passion, and then I decided I want to do my travel. Why not do it NOW, after highschool, while I have no husband, children, job, family, DEBTS keeping me here!?

The only thing I've done and planned is a 7 week trip to Mexico. That will be my first time outside of the U.S.

Anyone with any advice, what I can do, please help me! I need a plan. If nothing else, I'm going to defer enrollment from any college for a year and plan at least something for then.

What I'd love to do is go to South America. Everyone backpacks around Europe, I feel like it's a tourist thing to do. Everything's set up for Americans and other non-Europeans backpacking for a year. But South America..."backpacking" South America...I'm not fluent in Spanish yet, I've actually only been teaching myself, DEDICATED to Spanish for about a year. And I'm semi-fluent. I feel like I can do whatever I put my mind to, and I constantly have to proove that to myself.

Well, I decided to just take a stab in the dark with this post...see if anyone has any encouragement, personal experiences, tell me it's a bad idea, good idea...I just need to talk about it with someone. Thanks so much.

2. Posted by NantesFC (Respected Member 531 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I know it's an underwhelming statement but....It's all up to you! You say you can do anything you put your mind to so go do it! :) . Some people look forward to backpacking in Europe whilst others prefer riding horses in Mongolia. It's all down to choice. If you really want to experience the world then that's great. You have the rest of your life to do it so why be in a rush? If it's that important to you you'll find ways to make it work. Just ask most of the well traveled people on this site. The preceding sentences may have given you more questions than answers but that is my point. Just go out and do it. People can suggest things but don't base your decision on suggestions. I originally intended on going to college after HS graduation in 05' but I've held off since. Though I do intend on starting in the fall of 08' I'm still going to find a way to make it work.

3. Posted by KoalaGirl (Travel Guru 307 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Siraaji!! I have to say that I really felt moved reading your post - moved because it was like you were inside my head describing so many of the reasons I have a passion for travel.

I first put a backpack on and hit the road just after my 18th birthday, despite everyone around me trying to fill my head with horror stories and telling me I was too young and in experienced to take on any destination outside of the Western World. Whilst I didn't take no for an answer, I was still influenced by the things they had said.

Your writing definately portrays the passion you have for living life and for seizing the opportunities which come your way. Hold on to that. Don't ever doubt yourself when it comes to truely knowing what it is you want out of life. I have found it a constant struggle between continuing to travel, explore and experience the way you describe it, and trying to do the mature "responsible" thing and build a career and asset base here in the 'real world' that everyone keeps telling me I'll have to live in someday. Whilst I don't regret the path I have chosen to walk in life, I do wish that I hadn't listened so much to my family and friends around me in this respect.

The funny thing is, upon reflection, it's become even clearer that you can choose the non-traditional path and just keep experiencing the world in the fashion you talk about as you move on. Don't let anyone ever convince you that you need to settle down and work on a career/asset base because "you need to think about the future". It's easy at 17 to be convinced that you should take a year or two to see the world and then return home to start building your "real" life. Just also keep in mind that husband/children/career/degrees/debts... they are all a choice, and no matter what everyone else tells you or what anyone else does, you do not have to choose these things at any point in life if you don't want to. Even if you know you want some of these things, don't be fooled into thinking there's only one way to get it (i.e. return home, go to college, get a morgage) - who knows? If you just follow your heart you might meet the man of your dreams in Africa and be married in Somalia, have childrens whilst living in a hut you built yourself in Vanauatu, have a career teaching english and American culture in Asia and only have a debt to your best friends down the street who cooked you dinner last week....

All I can say is that I strongly encourage you to really firmly stick to your convictions and throw caution into the wind.... keep going with the attitude you have that you can do anything if you put your mind to it - because you can! Sometimes the best plan is no plan.

4. Posted by Tanianol (Inactive 13 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Wow...thank you so much for the responses! It's unusual to hear encouragement, so I relish in it. Nantes FC, you said, "You have the rest of your life to do it so why be in a rush? If it's that important to you you'll find ways to make it work." And then I always think I won't be able to do that....but KoalaGirl said, "husband/children/career/degrees/debts... they are all a choice, and no matter what everyone else tells you or what anyone else does, you do not have to choose these things at any point in life if you don't want to." Somehow, I never even really considered that I never HAVE to do those things. It really opens a whole new world of possibilities, to think about it.

God, KoalaGirl, what you say just makes so much sense. I always build myself up, thinking about what I'm going to do, about throwing caution to the wind and just GOING...and then I talk to some "level-headed" friends or family and I start planning for the future.

All I know right I need my time off. Away. From k-12th grade, it's been routines, schedules, the same place, generally the same people. No matter WHAT I do, I have to take a year off.

A college, I guess a technical college, is offering me a $60,000 scholarship (so, a free ride) to go there for the 4 year program. It would be a culinary school. I didn't actually APPLY to it yet (I actually haven't applied/looked at any school) but I keep having mixed emotions about that. It would be free, and it would be culinary, and I could definately use that in travels and such. But it would be 3 or 4 years bogged down in Chicago, where I've been all my life! I just need time to think. Maybe I can defer enrollment for a year, then decide if I want to go.

I really have to make this year COUNT. My little trip to Mexico, so much of my life has been leading up to it, has been dedicated to it. The first time of getting away. It's not just going to be a dream anymore.

KoalaGirl, what did you do right after your 18th birthday? I know I have to...'blaze my own trail', but I want to know how other people have done it. Right now I just feel like there's no possible way for me, alone, to do that, to travel...I mean, that's the way every respectable member of society makes me feel. But I know it's not true, and that I CAN do it. And I have faith in myself. It's just such a confusing time. It's my upbringing to feel like I have to plan everything through, but it's in my heart to be spontaneous and GO. I can't live through others anymore.

But wow, thanks so much for the support. The positive response really helps.

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 11, 2007, at 9:22 AM by Siraaji ]

5. Posted by Budai (Respected Member 506 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Tania, i wish i could write like you. Its queer cos ive also always wanted to buy a sailboat and just sail around the world... I shared the same sentiments as you, fresh out of high school and going to college. And i had people around me telling me not to go as well, that id come back in a black plastic bag etc... but having went, i did not regret it one bit, and for nothing else in the world, no amount of splendour, no Sultan's ransom is able to make me give up the road that i have chosen and those memories - its just like what u have so vividly fleshed out, till now the incongruity of having tea with a Kayin hill tribe in Burma, cycling the ruins of Angkor, and getting lost in Taiwan's bustling night market versus ordinary life in a cubicle still makes me wonder.

I shared the same wanderlust as u prior to my exams, which has admittedly resulted in my very mediocre exam grades, but having experiences all this at such a young age - im 17 as well, makes me feel rejuvenated and proud of myself for blazing my own path, nevermind the opportunity cost of a better paying, cushy job or moving up the social ladder. I may not ever be rich, but ill be satisfied having witnesses, experienced humanity, the living, breathing history while others practically live in an aquariium...

6. Posted by Tanianol (Inactive 13 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Wow...that's so amazing. Everything you say is so true! You're living proof that it CAN be done. That's amazing. About sailing around the world biggest inspiration, biggest hero, was this girl who at 17, sailed around the world solo. She has the record for the youngest American girl to sale around the world. And she went to islands, Central America, the Middle east, Africa, it's just so amazing. Just thinking about that, and hearing you talk like makes me want to leave NOW. I keep thinking, I have to be OLDER, and here you've done it! I feel like, how can I do it without my parents backing me? Without money.

"I may not ever be rich, but ill be satisfied having witnesses, experienced humanity, the living, breathing history while others practically live in an aquariium..."

Yes! That is everything I believe. I want that to be the motto that I've lived. God, reading things like this makes me really want to reconsider college. Because, it's not grades and learning about unnecessary things I want to learn... I want to learn trades, and things I can share with people, and HELP people. And, if I'm gonna go to college, it's so much time and money and effort, just to get a job in 'the real world'. Well, I don't really think that cubicle job is the real world. That's never experiencing the real world.

Thanks so much...

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 12, 2007, at 12:59 PM by Siraaji ]

7. Posted by soniafran (Budding Member 4 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I'm also 17 and feel very similar. I'm a junior right now and my dream school is Columbia which I'm applying to next fall, but I'm seriously considering deffering entry for a year. There are just so many places I want to go and experience, I feel like I need to get started right away. I spent a week in Rome last summer and I spent a week in Mexico over spring break, but that isn't even scratching the surface. I'm just worried that I won't be able to travel because of financial reasons. My parents are relatively well-off, but they wouldn't be able to pay for a year of travel just before they pay for 4 years of college. And I don't even think I would know where to start. Part of me wants to backpack through Europe just because I loved Italy so much while I was there, but maybe I should spend time in Asia (India especially!) and then wait to study abroad in Europe later. I don't know. I've never really talked to anyone about this before, but my problem is that I always want to plan everything in advance, but at the same time be spontaneous about it. And I want to learn so many languages and just experience so many cultures. Its all overwhelming.

8. Posted by Jadearth (Budding Member 36 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

this post is my life! Its calming and inspiring to see how many people out there have minds like me!
I am also a senior in high school and last October I spent a month in Thailand and Cambodia with my mom. It was an incredible experience and I think about it often, but for months afterwards my head was full of the reading novels, and learning about the constitution, inflation, how to speak in french, or how to pass my math tests.
I feel like I spent months breaking my back to learn about nothing I am interested in. I know that it is necessary to learn to graduate and everything....but is it wrong that I am sick of learning things I don't have a passion for?
I feel that college is important , yet I have met countless college graduates who have a degree in this or that...that they will never use! They have either realized that they couldn't stand working in that field any more, have found other work...or have taken off for a round the world trip without a thought about using their degree that they spent a WHOLE lot of $$$$ on.
If I had a goal in my mind that could be set off by a college degree I would go for it. But I don't, at least not right now. And I dont want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars towards something I am unsure of.

"When nothing is sure, everything is possible"

I believe that travel is possible, and I would like to begin my journey as well.
There is a huge textbook out there full of endless knowledge. It is called "Travling in the World" and I would love to learn from it, I have been fantatastically inspired by the few pages that I've read.

9. Posted by Tanianol (Inactive 13 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Ech, it's all so overwhelming. Lately I've been waking up in a sweat, my mind swirling with so much..."Where am I gonna go? What am I gonna do? How am I going to do it? I can't do it alone!" I need some sort of program, at least in the beginning...but I know I'm capable of doing it myself. I just need to hear others' stories to get an idea of what I can do.

10. Posted by philo (Full Member 107 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Wow! you've explained my mentality so well!

Even down to the wanting to get a yacht to travel the world.

When I was 18, i decided to take a year out bfore going to university, and went round Indochina for 2 months- it was the best two months of my life!

I'm not 19, and my gap year is coming to a close,and university is looming, and I'm having second thoughts about going. All I want to do is travel. I thought this feeling would calm down after I'd been somewhere, but it's made it worse.

I'm selling my car, and a few other things so I can go away again in the summer for a small while. I will get rid of whatever posessions I can in order to go away again. It's my only passion. I can't think of anything worse than dedicating my life to making someone else money while I'm stuck in an office all day, with the sun shining outside.

That's why all of my efforts right now are being put into generating an income that I can sustain while I'm travelling. So I can fund my travels, while I'm in any country in the world!

It's my dream, and I'm determined to make it come true. I won't settle for anything else!