You’re a no good, life-wasting, rotten, monkey-loving, responsibility-avoiding, useless, bum. That’s right, if you choose to avoid the normal routine in life and replace it with travel, whether for a few months, a year or even a decade or more, you’re a bum, without exception.
When we voice our desire to travel, it is unfortunately common to be met with such lines, something that I’ve been reminded of lately after receiving six emails in the past three days from readers who are dealing with such a situation right now.
As soon as they informed their family and friends of their decision to choose a path in life that truly excites them, a path that involves travel, they immediately were told that such a decision is simply not acceptable, such a decision is a waste of time and extremely childish. They were told to stop daydreaming and to start thinking about the real world, just like everyone else.
Maybe you’ve heard similar words from those around you every time you talk about your travel goals. Maybe you haven’t heard talk as intense as the lines above, but it’s likely that at least a handful of people have stared at you blankly, laughed off your dreams as nonsense or demanded that you ‘snap out of this phase’.
And every time we are met with such negativity, that all-encompassing, blissful excitement we feel whenever we close our eyes and think about our upcoming adventures around the world, suddenly disappears, vanishes in an instant…ZAP! Then, with head down, and a hint of tears in our eyes, we spend the next few days confused, frustrated and no longer certain that travel is such a good idea after all.
Let me tell you this. If you close your eyes right now and think of travel, and a smile forms on your face and you feel a surge of positive energy spread throughout your body, then travel is definitely a good idea for you.
Don’t let others dictate your life or influence what you know in your heart is the right decision. I know it’s not easy to ignore such negative reactions, but you must push forward.
Boy Was I Naive!
When I first started traveling and I made the decision back in 2000 to turn my 3-month trip into a more permanent adventure, one of the first things I did was to naturally inform my family and friends. However, at the time, I was definitely quite naïve as I had expected everyone to congratulate me on such a wonderful idea (even though I had almost no money and no plan at all), to offer their full support, to wish me the best with the path I now chose.
Of course, that didn’t happen at all. Instead, I found myself listening to people tell me that I’m wasting my life, that I didn’t go to university in order to roam around the world doing nothing. There were heated arguments, angry exchanges and more confusion than I have ever experienced at any other point in my life. Many a night I would stay awake, questioning whether or not I was making the right decision to remain overseas and not return home to get a normal job. I was feeling so lost that on several occasions, I was completely on the verge of packing up my backpack, giving up on my goals and booking a flight home.
But then, I would step outside in the morning and proceed to have yet another rewarding travel day, the kind of day so full of positive interactions and lessons, amazing food and amazing people, so full of new sights and sounds and moments that I never dreamed I would experience, that I again became convinced that a life of travel was indeed the right decision for me.
Eventually, after so many of these kind of days, I chose to ignore forever all of the people who told me that I was wasting my life. Sure enough, once I took this big step, my confusion and frustration soon turned to confidence, a confidence that began to increase with every passing day. And while I still had no idea what lay ahead, the fact that my decision to continue my travels felt infinitely better than any other decision I’d ever made, was more than enough to convince me that I would find a way to succeed.
Does This All Sound Familiar?
If you’re in a similar situation, feeling lost at the lack of support your travel goals have received from those around you, just know that you are not alone. It’s common for those around us, especially those who care about us, to worry about the decisions we make, most often when our decisions are so different from theirs.
People will tell you that you’re just confused or that your goals are impossible and that you need to come back to reality. They’ll tell you to stop being selfish, to stop daydreaming and to get a regular job because that’s what people do.
But again, if you know deep down that you must travel, just as I knew it, then you need to go forth and travel, regardless of what others think. You won’t be wasting your life, you won’t be avoiding responsibility. You’ll be achieving your goals, living a life without regrets and in the end, giving yourself an opportunity to create an actual, sustainable lifestyle that revolves around your truest interests.
That’s certainly not being a bum. That’s being smart, that’s being courageous, that’s making the absolute most out of your short time on this planet.
How did others react to your travel plans? If you haven’t told anyone yet, are you nervous about how they might react?