If you are in a rut, I can think of no better way to shake up your life then to pack your bags, jump on a plane, and start exploring the world. And I’m not talking about a one-week vacation to Hawaii (or wherever it is you go for your holidays). I’m talking about extended time (6+ months in my books) away from your home city or town.
For a number of years I was traveling through life on autopilot. I went straight from school to university, and for much of this time I felt that I was traveling along a pre-determined path that really didn’t interest me. However, once university finished I made perhaps the best decision of my life. I grabbed my backpack and took off for a year of traveling around the globe. And it just so happened that this year changed everything…
Why you should travel
Why should you travel? I realize that for anyone who has previously traveled, this section may come across as preaching to the converted (you may wish to skip ahead to the resources below). But I often hear from readers, young people in particular, who feel lost and want help with finding what to do with their lives. While travel may not be the right option for everyone, here are a few benefits related to travel that I have observed:
Freedom to find yourself. Sometimes living in your home town or city can be suffocating. Perhaps you feel forced by your parents to pursue a particular career, are scared to explore your sexual preferences, or are heavily influenced by your friends to act a certain way. Moving elsewhere can help you escape these pressures so you can fully explore what life has to offer you.
A blank slate. Moving to a new city or town gives you an opportunity to start afresh. When I arrived in Vancouver from Australia 6 months ago, I felt as if I had a blank state upon which to create the life I wanted. And I truly believe that a new environment is often needed to bring out the best in people. For example, I don’t think I would be where I am today with my writing and blogging if I was still living in Australia.
The ordinary becomes interesting. Food shopping. Walking around downtown. A conversation with a stranger. These all sound like fairly ordinary activities, right? Well it is amazing how these simple things can be exciting activities and adventures when you travel to, or live in, another place.
A real education. In university I studied Asian Studies, so I have a solid knowledge of the politics, geography, economics, and history of Asia. However, I haven’t yet had the chance to travel through Asia, and I sometimes think to myself how much do I really know about the region? We can learn a lot from textbooks, but nothing compares to actually going to a place and experiencing it firsthand.
Goodbye comfort zone. Human beings have a tendency to settle. One of the main benefits of travel is that it forces you out of your comfort zone, which in turn helps you to grow. My experience of living overseas is that it has forced me to get out and meet new people. And since I am normally a reserved person, this has helped me tremendously to build self-confidence and develop as a person.
Chase your passion. Often to chase your passion you will need to move to a certain place that is associated with that particular passion. For example, fashion is associated with Paris and New York. Finance with London. Film with Hollywood. Surfing with Hawaii and Australia. IT with Silicon Valley. If you have a particular passion, it is very likely that there is somewhere better than your current place of residence to pursue that passion.
Unique opportunities. Travel opens the door to a number of unique opportunities that would otherwise not be available. You may, for example, wish to study at a university with a world-class reputation for a particular course. Or, you may want to make a difference by volunteering for a certain cause. Remember, there are endless opportunities in life, and often the only constraint is our own imagination.
Different travel options
Perhaps the most important point in this article is this: you don’t necessarily have to be rich to travel. If you have automatically discarded the possibility of travel due the imagined cost, take a moment to consider the following travel options and resources. You may be surprised at the different travel options available, including (but not limited to): studying abroad, volunteering, backpacking, teaching abroad, and internships.
TrekEarth. Amazing photography from around the world to whet your appetite. www.trekearth.com
Thorntree forums. Lonely Planet’s bulletin board for travellers to exchange travel information, advice, hints and tips. www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree
Virtual Tourist. A large resource of user-generated tips and warnings for more than 25,000 locations around the world. www.virtualtourist.com
Family Travel Forum. Children do not need to get in the way of travel. Find out how other parents do it at: www.familytravelforum.com
Transitions Abroad. A huge resource for work abroad, study abroad, cultural travel overseas, and international living. www.transitionsabroad.com
Meet up. An easy way to find people in a particular area who share similar interests to you. www.meetup.com
Couch surfing. See the world on the (really) cheap. www.couchsurfing.com
Wwoof. A world wide network that helps people share more sustainable ways of living. www.wwoof.org
Anywired. Everything to help you take your show on the road. www.anywired.com
Location Independent. Another site dedicated to helping you live and work anywhere you choose. www.locationindependent.com
We have 15 copies of No More Mondays by Dan Miller (author of 48 Days to the Work You Love) to give away. From the book: “All of us, no matter how old we are or what kind of work we’re doing, can learn to bring the same excitement to our jobs that we bring to whatever we love to do on our days off. I believe that each one of us can pursue work that is a reflection of our best selves—a true fulfillment of our callings.” All you have to do to be in the running to win a copy is to share a travel experience or your thoughts about this article in the comments below. Winners will be announced on Friday.
Winners of Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland are Rich, Petel Sholtens, Chris K, Stephanie, Travis, FFB, Julie, John Bullock, Ryan, Alex Shalman, Eugene, Hunter Nuttall, Pam, and Karen (x2).