Wouldn’t it be brilliant if there was one definitive, perfect travel guide full of specific instructions that, when followed step-by-step by anyone on the planet, magically guarantees that we will be out there traveling the world long-term in no time at all?
Oh, it would, it really would.
But, the reality is that no matter how much we want such a guide, it simply does not exist.
When we first discover that travel might be significantly more accessible than we once thought, it is natural for us to suddenly crave some set of concrete instructions from others and a pamphlet full of clearly laid-out rules from those who have already achieved such a goal. We want the do’s and the dont’s, we want someone to tell us exactly where to go, exactly what to pack, exactly what to expect, exactly how to earn money and so on. We want to find a holy tablet of travel (the stone or electronic kind) to guide us from our mere desire to experience the world directly to the real thing, actually experiencing it first-hand.
When I decided that I wanted to try and travel for as long as possible, believe me, I wanted a set of rules and instructions too. I wanted someone to tell me, “Hey Derek, all you need to do is this, this and that and you’ll be able to travel for as long as you want my friend.”
Oh how much I wanted someone to tell me that! Well, nobody told me that. Nobody gave me any detailed plan to follow, nobody handed me that perfect travel guide and nobody provided me with a manual that guaranteed to lead me to all of my travel dreams.
Interestingly, I was actually floating in the South China Sea when I first started to realize that I might have to figure out my traveling life on my own. You see, the crew of the party boat/snorkeling trip that I had joined in Vietnam that day back in February of 2000 had been serving endless drinks to all of us passengers as we made our way from the pier towards the snorkeling location. After an hour of hanging out with other travelers and throwing back several of these ‘free’ drinks, it was time to snorkel and so I joined everyone else by jumping right into the water, thinking that was a perfectly sound idea. And then, after a couple of minutes of trying to snorkel, I quickly began to drift, farther and farther and farther away from the boat, with my semi-inebriated self unable to find the strength to stop it.
All of a sudden, with the vessel now very far off in the distance, I realized that I was all alone in the water and that none of those other tourists swimming around this sea were going to help me get back. If I wanted to get back, I would have to find the strength from within to do it on my own.
And I did. It was painfully difficult though and I wanted to stop swimming several times and give up as my body strength was nearly depleted. But I wanted to get back to that damn boat so badly that I somehow pushed onward, fighting the current, fighting the rough waters, fighting my exhaustion, until I got there.
Then, sitting by myself on the top deck of that boat for the ride back to the town of Nha Trang, I realized a couple of important lessons…
First, I had to take responsibility for my own actions and I had no choice but to deal with the consequences, especially when I make bad decisions.
Second, while there might be others around me that can help from time to time, when it comes down to it, it’s truly up to me to create the life I want to live. There is no lifeline to hold onto that will tug you straight to where you want to go. You can’t just yell out for help, close your eyes and wake up exactly where you want to be. It takes tremendous effort, fierce dedication and an unwavering focus to reach your destination, but if you want it badly enough, you’ll absolutely find a way to get there on your own.
What I’m trying to say is that I know you’re excited to travel, I know that you’re spending hours online searching for destinations far and wide, trying to figure out where you want to go in this world and how and, well, searching for that magical step-by-step plan to follow, the plan that will make your travel dreams so easy to achieve, in the snap of a finger.
And now you hear that no such plan, no such guide, exists.
However, this should not be viewed as disappointing news, far from it. If you really want travel to play a major role in your life, one day in the future you will indeed be hiking around the Romanian countryside or watching the sunset from a Fijian beach or attending a football match in South Africa or meeting new friends in Kyrgyzstan. You will be somewhere in this world when all of a sudden you will stop what you’re doing and look all around you, amazed at where you are and how you got there. And at that point, you’ll think to yourself, “I’ll be damned. I made it happen.”
I’m not saying all of this just for the fun of it. I’m saying all of this because I have continuously met people out there in the world who have achieved their travel goals in incredible ways, people who have had to figure out how to make it happen for themselves, just like all of us, and, who did just that.
Yes, you can make it happen too. I have absolutely no doubt about that. Many experienced travelers are here to assist and to help you move forward as much as we can (that’s the whole reason I’ve created two travel resources myself after all) but ultimately, you have to make the real decisions.
Take a deep breath, think about the advice and suggestions that you’ve picked up from others, make sure you fully believe in yourself and then put your left foot forward. That’s how you start creating your own path, the kind of path that you’ll need to create if you want travel to become a reality.
Enjoy the adventure. I know you will.
Have you been hoping to find a perfect, step-by-step guide? Are you ready to make it happen yourself?