The Marine Hermanus, South Africa

When Daydreams Of Travel Come True

Derek South Africa 54 Comments

The Marine Hermanus, South Africa
Before I actually started traveling, I remember spending a great deal of my time daydreaming about being a traveler. Entire afternoons would pass by, especially during my university years, where I did nothing but try to envision myself exploring every region of the world. Whether it was Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, the South Pacific, Caribbean or Africa, just the thought of being there was more than enough to put a huge smile on my face.

But I would always try and go beyond simply ‘being there’. I wanted to imagine myself participating in specific activities, meeting specific people and experiencing actual life-changing moments.

It’s funny because right now, I can easily picture myself during a typical day at university, sitting in the library trying to study for exams. I might read a few pages of my economics book and do my best to stay focused, but most likely I would quickly lose my concentration instead. Closing my book, I would lean back in my chair and take a few deep breaths, and within a few seconds be transported to a land so far away, a land where…

I’d be able to drive along a windy coastal road, passing through small, quiet towns and alongside endless stretches of pristine beach. Maybe there would be a penguin nesting area to visit and perhaps some wild baboons might wander down from the hills, jump on my vehicle and come along for the ride…

Baboon in South Africa

Or maybe I’d daydream about a land where I could just hop into a microlight plane and soar high above a surreal landscape of sugar estates and farmland before soaring even higher over the deep blue ocean.

Microlight Flight, South Africa

Microlight Flight, Durban, South Africa

Sometimes I would whisk myself away to a region of the world where mountains so green made me feel as if I’d wandered straight into the most fantastic of fairy tales. While in this region I might go on a wine-tasting tour, stopping at the most well-known of wineries, those with names such as Vrede & Lust and Delaire Graff. At these wineries I would taste endless varieties of Shiraz and Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay while nibbling on the freshest and most creative of dishes, all of which were crafted from delicious locally-produced ingredients.

Wine Region, South Africa

For a moment, I might actually snap out of all this daydreaming and suddenly remember that my economics exam was only one day away. But usually that wasn’t even enough to stop me and I would quickly close my eyes once again and continue with my journey.

This time around I might find myself climbing to the top of a mountain for stunning views of a city that is absolutely one of the most beautiful on the planet or maybe hiking my way through an impressive and wildly mysterious cave system deep underground.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cango Caves

I would then imagine myself eating the most divine of meals, perhaps some Indian-influenced cuisine unlike any other I had ever tasted. And when it came to sleeping, I would imagine myself spending my nights in a variety of places, from atmospheric hostels to unique budget hotels (such as Delicious Hotel) to jungle-like lodges (such as Umlilo Lodge) and maybe even a a luxury hotel on the beach (The Views Hotel works for me!) every now and then.

Bunny Chow, South Africa

The Views Hotel, Wilderness

And during the evenings, maybe I would join some others travelers and participate in something incredibly unique such as a Sea Turtle Safari where we could watch massive, 1,500 lb (700 kg) leatherback turtles laying their eggs in the sand.

Leatherback Turtle, South Africa

Leatherback Turtle, St. Lucia, South Africa

Of course, everywhere I went during these daydreams, I was always meeting interesting and kind people, from shopkeepers to strangers on the street to other travelers to enthusiastic tour guides. Some of these people I would interact with for just a few minutes and others for a few hours or even a few days or more. I dreamed of being invited to stay in people’s homes and of spending time with locals who would take me on a brilliant tour of their country while opening my eyes to a culture and land I knew very little about.

Tommy of Julnic Tours, Durban

Phinda Game Reserve, South Africa

Escape to the Cape, South Africa

Eventually, however, my ‘trip’ would always come to an end and my approaching exam would finally find it’s way back to the top of my priorities. Sitting up straight, I would re-open my economics book and start reading where I left off several hours before. But even as I studied, a little part of my brain would still remain fixated on the wonders of travel, on the mountains, wildlife, wineries, beaches, jungle lodges, adventure activities, interesting people and the endless stream of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

And I always hoped that one day I would have an opportunity to transform those daydreams into reality.

Well, fast forward to three months ago…

It was the final day of my adventure in South Africa and as I sat in the van that was driving me to the airport, staring out the window at a countryside I once never thought I’d see with my own eyes, I realized that so many of the things I used to daydream about had come true in this one country.

Everything mentioned above is from that trip back in December. And that is why I’m fully confident that, no matter what your own travel dreams may be, you will also be able to turn many of them into reality with a visit to the diverse, extraordinary land that is South Africa.


Anyone else spend long hours daydreaming of travel? Where do you wander to and what do you envision yourself doing?

*While my visit to South Africa was organized by the South Africa Tourism Board, my posts always consist of my own thoughts and opinions and are in no way whatsoever influenced by anyone else.
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Comments 54

  1. Peyton

    Im the exact same. I daydream all the time! During class, homework, and listening to music. I can’t help it, and when its time to snap out of it, it brings tears to my eyes because im not there. My life goal is to travel the world’s and prove everyone who ever said “Dreams dont come true.” WRONG!

  2. Ilya

    Hi Earl, I know it’s been almost a year since you wrote this but I just read this today haha 🙂 Well I daydream about cycling through the countrysides of Southeast Asia and crossing the borders by foot (or bicycle). I daydream.about teaching English in the rural villages of Cambodia, to the students, toddlers or youths, who are genuinely keen to learn. And I daydream about taking a boat ride along the beautiful Mekong River, and eventually telling the world about its sheer magnificence 😉

  3. Carly

    You know I actually googled “daydreaming about travel” because I am sitting here in my office unable to focus on anything other than my wandering mind and visions of the beach, lust green trees, unfamiliar faces & new friends, and exotic food. I wanted to read about others in that place so I can some comfort in my grand future visions :).

    As a traveler, I find it hard to be out on the road and then come home to the day to day work life. I know I want to create a sustainable travel life and am in the process of that creation right now. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Earl

      Hey Carly – It’s definitely possible so don’t lose focus! And then, it will all come together and you won’t have to return to the day to day work life, being able to visit new regions of the world instead 🙂

  4. Christine

    Wow! That really resonated with me. I smiled so hard through the whole post it left my face a bit sore. We have a lot in common. I dreamed like that from the time I was a child. My mom says I started talking about traveling and seeing the world at about 4 years old. I still find I am way too distracted by such thoughts since returning to the USA. I feel the same way about my time living abroad, the people I met and my travel experiences–so fortunate to have been able to find a way to make those dreams come true. I am looking forward to continuing to travel and do things I have only fantasized about thus far. I actually wrote an essay for a university magazine in Korea about this very same thing. I am going to see if I can find it and, if I do, I will send it to you. Keep dreaming and traveling. And blogging of course! 😉

    1. Earl

      Hey Christine – Please do send the article to me if you can find it! And you starting talking about traveling at age 4? In that case, you absolutely do belong on the road!

  5. Grace

    I am currently sitting in my University library, text books abandoned next to me, and browsing travel blogs. When I came across this post I almost found it too hard to digest, I could have written this blog post word for word. You know what it gives me? Hope. I am not so alone in my thoughts of traveling the word. I am not the only one who thirsts for new horizons, a greater understanding, and reaching out to people from all walks of life. When I express these dreams to friends and family often I am met with eye rolls and looks of disbelief. But tonight I don’t feel so alone, and more connected then ever. Thank you so much.

    1. Earl

      Hey Grace – I’m honestly happy to hear you found some hope in this post! You are definitely not alone and not only that, there are thousands of people who have already taken the step and made it happen. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have confidence in your ability to travel long-term as well. Many people at home will think you’re ‘crazy’ but believe me, there’s an entire community of people out here on the road who think you’re perfectly sane 🙂

  6. Cherina

    What a lovely post. I guess most passionate travellers can relate to this. I still daydream about all the places I am yet to visit but I feel so grateful that so many of those daydreams have become reality.

    1. Earl

      Hey Cherina – That’s a great way to look at it as we never want to lose sight of what we have already accomplished! If we don’t appreciate what we’ve experienced already, it will be difficult to appreciate our future adventures as well.

  7. Jessie on a Journey

    Ah, I can definitely relate to this post! I’ve been daydreaming about South America, specifically Patagonia, for the last few months. Luckily I leave Monday and will be there for 3 months. Excited to make my daydreams a reality 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Jessie – That’s a good choice for some daydreaming! Safe travels on Monday and enjoy that surreal feeling that accompanies the achievement of your travel goals 🙂

  8. Nichole

    This post gave me goosebumps! You should exactly like me. I feel like I do nothing but daydream about my future travels. And I feel like I annoy my boyfriend with how much I talk about my plans, or whenever I discover a new place I want to see. I can’t wait to graduate (9 months!!) and begin my adventures. I’m studying journalism and global studies so that’s a great combo to do exactly what I want to do – travel & write!

    1. Earl

      Hey Nichole – That seems like a perfect combination to me! And 9 months is not so far away at all, although, hopefully your boyfriend can handle another 9 months of travel talk 🙂

  9. Matt

    I feel the exact same way about South Africa. Every adventure was a “once in a lifetime” one. The best part of travel is being able to do and see what one day in the not so distant past was only a dream.

    1. Earl

      Hey Matt – Exactly! I think S. Africa is one of the few countries where everything you do and see feels so unique, so special. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single traveler say otherwise about that country.

  10. 10kJuan

    Loved this post, Earl. Made me reflect a bit on my current situation in Brazil, a situation that seemed like a distant dream just a year ago. If you can imagine it, you CAN make it happen.

    Some of my students have traveled to South Africa recently and they all raved about it. One of them pointed out the glaring lack of black cars/abundance of white cards in the country, perhaps more noticeable to a Brazilian since most cars here are either black, white or gray. Was it that obvious, or were 3 weeks outside of the capitals just a small sample size?

  11. Kim

    I think this post just described me my senior in College. Considering I did major in Economics, I think I studied more maps than I did on any economics related topic. Unlike you however, my day dreams haven’t came true just yet. I’m working on it though. One step at a time. And I also want to say congratulations to the people who replied above whose dreams also came true for them.

    1. Earl

      Hey Kim – If you studied Economics, then I can definitely feel your pain 🙂 And I’m glad to hear that you’re working on making those goals a reality. It doesn’t happen overnight of course and we all have to work hard to create the lifestyle we want but that’s no reason to give up. A little hard work doesn’t hurt, especially when the end result is so rewarding!

  12. Naomi

    no longer the student, now the teacher, but yeah, still daydreaming about travel. totally get this, but I think given that you seem to have been on a sponsored lux trip, bit disingenuous yes?

    1. Earl

      Hey Naomi – Thanks for the comment but I don’t think it’s disingenuous at all. Maybe if my only travel experience was this one sponsored trip then I could understand, but considering that I’ve spent 12 years working mighty hard to maintain this lifestyle (and to now enjoy a perk or two every once in a while), a 12 day sponsored trip or two certainly seems acceptable to me. Also, the idea behind the blog is to help motivate people to achieve their own travel goals and sponsored trips happen to be one way that people can travel, if they decide to create their own travel blog.

      And besides, I spent almost $2000 USD of my own money to make the South Africa adventure happen as I had to fly to/from certain destinations in order to comply with the rules of the trip 🙂

  13. Ryan @ PauseTheMoment.com

    Excellent article Earl! I loved every minute of it. I also saw some really familiar faces in the photos above. Some of those same people were the ones who allowed me to experience all that South Africa has to offer. If it wasn’t for them, maybe I would have never visited this incredible country.

    1. Earl

      Hey Ryan – There were definitely some great people in SA that really helped make that trip as perfect as possible! And I’ve always believed that the people we meet during our travels define our experiences far more than any sights we may see along the way…

  14. Someday I'll Be There - Mina

    I am glad your living your dreams and crossing loads of things out of your bucketlist.
    SA is one of the main places I really want to go. And you’ve added many reasons for that through this post 😀 I also spent/spend many hours per day daydreaming about doing similar stuff, maybe i’ll cross them off by visiting such a place (and other places too:D)

    1. Earl

      Hey Mina – No ‘maybes’ allowed…you ‘will’ cross them off your list!! So keep daydreaming so that you have the perfect list of places to visit when you’re ready 🙂

  15. Michele

    Oh Earl… I know you probably rarely have random readers on your mind while writing a blog entry but this one really spoke to my heart. I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming lately as you can imagine from my last e-mail. Daydreaming while looking at pictures, while chatting on Bali forums and chat rooms, and the entire time my husband and I are making plans or even the smallest changes to our lives in preparation for the trip.

    I’ve found daydreaming to be both distracting and a great motivator; often simultaneously.

    1. Earl

      Hey Michele – That’s a good way to put it as daydreaming does have it’s pros and cons. But at the same time, I think the benefits are greater because once you start taking steps towards your goals, the daydreaming will stop you from giving up. Once you realize that those dreams can become reality, there’s no way you’ll turn back!

      And of course, feel free to send me more emails if you need to…you know I’ll understand all the little steps you must go through!

      1. Michele

        Thank you, you rock 🙂 Right now we’re working on our financial situation and waiting for our Durango to be repaired. Darn transmission sucking up our travel money! lol Seriously though, we’re probably a year from leaving since our son is still in limbo. I honestly have no idea why a 15 year old boy has reservations about traveling the world with his parents!

        We’ll figure him out 😉

        And I do agree, the benefits of daydreaming outweigh the cons. Right now my motivation stems from watching others achieve their dreams. As I told another friend earlier today; this is my year. I’m going to make it happen.

  16. Patricia GW

    I love this post, Earl. I’m that student trying to study for my exams when I feel the call to travel welling up inside me like an unsuppressible force. The theme of daydreaming of living your travel dreams is universal to anywhere in the world, and I look forward to those moments when, like you, I can say, “I’m doing it!”

    1. Earl

      Hey Patricia – I can’t wait to hear you say those words as well! It will happen of course, especially if the call to travel is already building up so strongly despite having exams to worry about 🙂

  17. Maria Alexandra @latinAbroad

    Wow – what an amazing trip! LOVED the photos. I actually daydream of going on many press trips, writing about my adventures in English and Spanish and having a multi-cultural following *sighs* working hard to achieve this! You inspire me to not falter 😉 wonderful post as always, Earl!

    1. Earl

      Hey Maria – Please don’t let up! You’ll get there for sure…it does require hard work but it’s all worth it once the dreams start becoming your actual life. Perhaps we’ll end up on the same press trip one day 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Leslie – That is basically how we were living during parts of that trip to South Africa…not my normal travel style but I wasn’t going to refuse 🙂

  18. Maggie Dodson

    It sounds like a very special feeling how all those dreams came together in one place. It sounds like magic to me. Like Africa is in your blood now, Earl. I used to daydream many years ago that I would visit West Africa, the parts where my favourite musicians come from; where I would not just visit and feel like a tourist but stay in a local place where I would shop in the market and at the little shop on the corner and I would meet people with whom I could converse………..having learnt the language! that I would be invited by local people to spend time with them in their homes, that I would go out to hear these musicians in local clubs, that I could play my tunes in a local bar/club………… I still have to learn the language to the point where I can have a proper conversation and I have some new dreams now for the next time I’m there. A very famous African musician once told me, ‘If it’s a dream, it’s real.’ I believe that whatever you dream from the bottom of your heart, it will one day become your reality because it’s already a part of you. Enjoy Roumania.

    1. Earl

      Hey Maggie – That’s a great line, “If it’s a dream, it’s real.” I tend to believe that as well. It might require some effort and some determination, but that’s not too much to ask from a human being. Glad to hear your dreams are coming together as well and I’m sure that soon enough, everything that you once imagined in West Africa will be your reality…

  19. Aaron @ Aaron's Worldwide Adventures

    I love the way you phrased this post. It’s really something to get your travel dreams realized…to see the most incredible things this world has to offer. These days I’m dreaming about Patagonia. That will happen in my near future. I’m sure of it…

    Oh, and nice…bathrobe?

    1. Earl

      Hey Aaron – Patagonia is not a bad place to be dreaming about at all! And don’t worry, I don’t carry a bathrobe around with me in my backpack. It was one of the rare times I was staying in a room that actually provided one!

  20. Asar Morris

    I just turned 17 and everyone always asks me what I want to do, I have told them I don’t know everytime. Everyone always suggests being a scientist, doctor, lawyer, cop, or buisnessman but ever since I was little I felt like I wanted something different.

    Everyone around me wants to be rich but I just want to be happy! My dream is to travel the world like you do. This feeling to travel is so strong that if I couldn’t I honestly don’t know if anything else could satisfy me. I want to experience the world! I want to rough it wondering how and when im going to get somewhere!I want to share drinks and have fun with fellow travelers and make memories!Iwantto die without regrets and live a full life. I have wanted ADVENTURE ever since I was a small child and I still do!

    My life is very mundane, I go to a private school that my parents cant afford, I have a B average and ever since 7th grade nothing I have done has been good enough for my parents. I know they love me and I love them too but I just feel like this lifestyle, it just isn’t for me! I feel happiest exploring some town that I’ve never been too, or almost facing danger when doing some trick.. not reading books and cramming for tests! I want freedom! I appreciate my opportunities at this school but I just think the money could go towards something more productive!

    I am thinking of just packing my lap top up, making 1000 dollars by doing some odd jobs and getting the hell out of town! Start a nomadic life like that… the only thing keeping me from setting out and chasing these dreams of mine are how my family and friends may worry.
    I don’t know, I am just getting to the point where I just cant take this boring, pampered life styles and I want to trade it in for a lifestyle of freedom, exploration and community with the world!

    I just want to know how you were able to keep in your desires for travel all the way through highschool and college without going insane and your thoughts on just running away. Thanks and I love reading your blog 😀 Sorry about my excessive typing

    1. Earl

      Hey Asar – No problem at all, I love to receive such comments! I think you’re in a situation that many people are in but the difference is that you know there are other alternatives to the normal path in life. You are aware that you could just pack up everything and start living a nomadic life and that naturally makes it even more difficult to go through the usual routine of school and work.

      As for me, while I spent my time daydreaming of places far away, I never really thought that a life of travel was something that I could achieve. I always assumed that such a lifestyle was pure fantasy and that maybe, at best, I would be able to go on a vacation once or twice per year like everyone else. So the only reason I didn’t go insane was because I didn’t yet understand the actual opportunities that existed for me to achieve my goals.

      In terms of just running away, that’s a tough one but I don’t think that will give you what you’re looking for. I can tell you from experience that it is far better to have even a basic plan and it is infinitely better to have an education. You simply won’t have as many opportunities without having at least a high school diploma. So I would hold on and get that first.

      And then, if you want you can try to head off into the world and see what happens. No decision is permanent so even if you try out the traveling lifestyle for a while, you could always return home if you want or go to university at a later time. But I would definitely finish high school before setting off!

  21. Mitchell Roth

    What an amazing way to craft your story!

    It resonated with me because I am the same person as you who has daydreamed of travel for countless hours while in college and then the 5 years I have been working.

    I have finally paid off all my debt and am saving until August 2012 when I will embark on a long-term backpacking journey through Central and South America. I envision myself traveling slowly and really soaking in the environment, friendships, and adventures along the way:)

    1. Earl

      Hey Mitchell – Congratulations on your upcoming trip!! That’s excellent news! It’s quite something when those daydreams come true…and it only gets better as your travels progress!

  22. Patrick Hearn

    That’s what propelled me through my last semesters as a Computer Science major, before I made the shift to Creative Writing and embraced what I knew would be a location-independent lifestyle.

    Now, I still dream of travel, but I’m wrestling with the realities of preparing for a trip of that magnitude, and I never thought I would. By this time next year, I’ll have only a few weeks left before I graduate and set off, though I’ll likely spend the summer at home, and hit Europe at the start of winter.

    But dreams do come true, if you believe in them and push towards them hard enough. You can never give up on them, even when things get tough!

    1. Earl

      Hey Patrick – Absolutely and I think that most people who don’t achieve their goals (travel or otherwise) end up giving up when they do face some obstacles. But those who stay focused and push through those challenges suddenly realize that on the other side lies the life they have always wanted to live. I’m a firm believer than determination plays the biggest role in turning dreams into reality…and it seems like you’ll have accomplished that soon enough as well!

  23. Kim

    How I can relate. I do a lot of daydreaming these days. But I also do a lot to make my dreams a reality… and they will when I leave to travel the world in 10 WEEKS. Have fun in South Africa.

    1. Earl

      Hey Kim – 10 weeks is nothing at all…I can only imagine the excitement building with each passing day! And the moment all of that dreaming does become your actual life is a moment I’m sure you’ll never forget.

  24. Alane (of Nomadic Living and Travels)

    Yes, I believe that daydreaming, envisioning, and feeling the joy of it all brings it to reality. A great post! Thanks for sharing it. South Africa is on my list…and in my dreams, as well as New Zealand, Australia, Spain and India. Safe travels and keep on dreaming, even if you’re traveling now….

    1. Earl

      Hey Alane – South Africa definitely deserves a place on any traveler’s list! And it seems like you won’t stop there…with plenty of countries you want to visit out there. Just think about how it will feel when you arrive in each of those destinations…New Zealand, Australia, India. There really is no feeling that can match a travel dream becoming reality!

  25. Stephanie

    what a wonderful, positive, and somehow spiritual post (and the first picture is just awesome)! I keep having these moments when I think “Wait. I imagined doing this when I was 5 years old, and now I’m doing it” (when my grandparents gave me an illustrated world atlas for Christmas). Right now, I’m toying with the idea of setting up a home for a couple of months in Belfast… but probably I won’t stay there for long, either. My current dream is India, but I need to regain some mental and emotional strength first.

    1. Earl

      Hey Stephanie – I think it’s important that we’re able to realize that we are turning our dreams into reality. If we don’t stop and think about that every now and then, even our global adventures can suddenly seem quite ordinary and we certainly won’t appreciate the experiences we have. And I definitely encourage a trip to India when you’re ready…it will always be my favorite country on the planet 🙂

  26. Michael

    This sounds exactly like me. I spend hours day dreaming about travel and than researching travel destinations. Just recently when reading my Global Marketing book for class it literally takes me about 2-3 hours longer to get through a chapter than most. I start reading about the Asian market and I find myself there meeting new people, learning languages and teaching English.

    Right now I’m daydreaming of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and a boat tour through the South Pacific. Ah someday soon I pray!

    Keep Inspiring. Looking forward to hearing about your next travel adventure and hopefully I will be out there sooner than later!

    1. Earl

      Hey Michael – Good to know this is a common way to spend time while at school! And that’s where it all starts, with those daydreams. If you’re already thinking of travel that much, I’m sure you will indeed actually be out there in the world soon enough. Australia and the South Pacific are not bad places to start 🙂

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