I know how you feel, the one with the pile of travel magazines under your bed and the countless blogs bookmarked on your desktop. You spend all of your free time pouring over the stories of vagabonds, trying to live vicariously through their journeys. In the office, you look over your shoulder nervously from time to time, your eyes scanning the article about the mountains of Southeast Asia as your heart quickly conjures up an image of you trekking through lush green fields. It’s not going to be enough, you know.
You’re going to have to get out into the world and write your own story.
Maybe you don’t have the money, or the time. Maybe you have other responsibilities that demand your attention. Or maybe what you have right now is enough and it’s all you need to go. There’s no way to say that you’ll ever have more than this. Now is as good a time as any to do what you’ve always dreamed of. Wouldn’t you rather find out than wonder what if? And if not now, when?
I promise you, the world will not disappoint.
You’ll receive kindness in places you do not expect; in the eyes of strangers who can only converse with you in the language of smiles. You’ll discover the joy of getting lost in maze-like alleyways and stumbling upon hidden gems you never knew existed. The food, with its mind-boggling overload of textures, flavors and aromas will simultaneously surprise and comfort you all at once. The long, arduous trails and mighty mountains will teach you the true meaning of humility and make you appreciate every breath of air that fills your lungs. You’ll learn to dance to new beats and find yourself falling in love with lyrics you don’t understand. You might find tranquility in a monastery, temple or cave, only to realize that the power to keep it lies within you. Letting go of your fears is something you’ll do naturally when the only choice you can make is to jump off that cliff and embrace the welcoming waves of the sea.
You’ll meet people whose lives couldn’t be more different than yours, yet you’ll find that across cities and villages people are more alike than they are foreign. United by the relentless pursuit of a better life, everyone works towards a goal they believe will help them achieve that idea. The passion that fuels and motivates the action of people will blow your mind. You’ll meet some of them on the open road, traveling like you. Their selflessness, creativity, and fearlessness will inspire you to live your own life courageously. If you keep an open mind, you’ll get along well with those that you meet and they will accept you as you are, with all of your craziness and flaws. If you’re lucky, you’ll forge bonds that will last a lifetime. More often than not, you’ll find ways to ensure your paths do cross again.
Not everything will always be perfect.
You’ll miss buses, have flights delayed and get sick on the road. You’ll probably be scammed or pickpocketed at least once. You won’t always love the local cuisine. There will be days when you’ll loathe the solitude and drown yourself in doubt. You’ll question the point of it all and crave creature comforts, friends, and family. You won’t like the thought of spending so much of your hard earned money and will obsess over what’s going on at home. Surely, the world can't go on without you. When things go wrong, you’ll develop a patience and tolerance you never knew you had in you and a better understanding of who you really are.
All in all, you’ll be better for going.
When you return, home will not feel the same. With your widened view, you’ll begin looking at things, people, relationships, and routines differently and see how insignificant it all is, yet with a heightened sense of awareness. You will appreciate the waitress who smiles as she bring your coffee, the luxury of a warm bath any time you please and the fact that you can order a sandwich at 1 a.m. You will detest monotony, ignorance, and indifference, regardless of how guilty you used to be of these cardinal sins. Your friends will tire of your accounts of "life changing" epiphanies and nod their heads as you ramble on about your adventures. You’ll try to understand their reaction, even as they fail to understand you.
Travel changes you, and once you take that first flight, it’s a never-ending need to see and experience just a little bit more. While it opens your eyes to so many wonders that are out there, it's the most addictive hobby (or lifestyle) you can have. What are you waiting for?