My Travel Dreams Come True
Make the decision. Start the plan. Book the ticket.
Realizing my travel dreams and making them come true.
(Yours can too!)
Long term travel is something I have dreamt of for a long time. We are talking a fairly solid decade. For whatever reason when I was a little younger and perhaps a little freer, I didn’t embark on that journey. I was young, inexperienced and a bit afraid of the world. I never challenged myself to take that leap of faith and it always left me wondering what I missed out on.
So, I never had that gap year or backpacking summer trip, but I did manage to tide my travel urges with small excursions over the years; hops over the pond to the UK and Europe, jaunts south to the Caribbean islands, road trips and hiking adventures in the US and several travels to my ever-favourite Central America.
While it has been exciting to tack new countries onto my list, the short jaunts never feel like enough. Those one or two weeks were wonderful, but jam-packed with activities. It all felt so rushed. I longed for the slowed down travel experience that allowed for time to relax and time to contemplate and absorb the beautiful places and cultures I was visiting. That yearning for long term travel just wouldn’t go away.
It was just over two years ago that I decided I was unwilling to ignore my dream of long term travel anymore. I can remember almost the exact moment. My partner, Bryan, had started a new job and his vacation time was sparse. I had the travel itch and needed a little adventure, so I suggested a few day jaunt to Halifax, Nova Scotia with my sister, a teacher who was off for the summer. Having family there made it a nice easy option that was equally as affordable. I am a bit of an early bird and most mornings I was up at least an hour before my sister and cousin, whom we were staying with. So I would make a cup of tea, write in my journal and read on the balcony. It was over that few days I was reading Nomadic Matt’s book How to Travel the World on $50 a Day – reading it enthused me! I had already had the travel bug for years and spent a great deal of time sheepishly pondering long term travel. Reading the book made it seem so approachable, so doable! When I got home I immediately sat down with Bryan to talk it over. We agreed it was something we wanted to do, but it needed time to develop, ie. money!
So we started planning, and by planning I mean saving money. We knew that the planning process would be a bit of a long-term one in and of itself, and if it was ever going to happen we needed to get set up financially for it. I needed to save money and I needed to sort out what it was I would do with all the other life ‘stuff’; homes, jobs, etc.
This very loose travel plan changed a lot over that initial year and a half. During this process I really had to take a long look at myself. Turning 30 was on my horizon. I recognized that while I loved the carefree fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality, it just wasn’t me. I didn’t want to quit my job, sell my home and leave myself feeling insecure upon my return. I wanted to in some way maintain the things that I had already worked so hard for.
I found a happy medium and we decided on a 4 month adventure – long enough to get a good feel for long term travel, but not too much in case I learned that life on the road wasn’t for me. I also figured I might stand a better chance of convincing my employer of a short few month sabbatical over a full year off.
With plans to travel at the end of 2017 I put in my leave of absence request early, about 10 months in advance. I took the approach that if I gave lots of notice and allowed my travel dates to be flexible that I may stand a better chance of getting approved. I gathered all of the info from our HR department and I took a long time crafting the perfect e-mail to my boss. After several months of eager anticipation, my leave of absence was approved – this was REALLY happening!
Here I am, in the year of my 30th birthday, and over 2 years since I made the decision to MAKE this trip happen. Things are finally starting to come together. There is nothing that is more exciting and exhilarating than watching the travel plans unfold. Three years ago I would never have thought I would actually be planning a four month adventure, but the key for me has really been in the planning.
Let this be a reminder that if there is something you want you can absolutely have it! At a distance it might seem impossible or it might seem like a lot of work, and maybe it is, but you have to start somewhere – one first step is all it takes. I can’t tell you how many times I longed for this, wracked my brain on how to make it happen and then punished myself for not doing anything about it. I was stuck in a cycle of desire and inaction. It all came down to that one day that I decided I was tired of my own bullshit and I wouldn’t compromise my happiness anymore – I didn’t want a life of regret and I didn’t want to look back wondering what I could have done, seen, experienced and felt. But now most of the waiting is over, I just need to be patient the next two months until we leave - the best is yet to come!
So tell me, what's your travel dream?