Back in bygone ages, when I was not yet 30, I remember having a conversation with a musician friend. His band was pretty successful, enough so that his job title was Rock Star. Somehow, we ended up discussing my goals.
(This was odd since Rock Stars usually only talk about themselves.)
“What do you want to do?” he asked.
“I want to do what you do,” I admitted.
“Then why don’t you?” he asked with genuine surprise. To him, it seemed like the simplest thing in the world.
If you want to be a Rock Star, you just be a Rock Star.
Of course, I had other thoughts.
When he asked “Why don’t you?” my mind swarmed with a thousand fluttering excuses…
- I’m too old
- I’m not talented enough
- I already tried that
- I need to earn a living
There were so many self-created barriers in my way, I felt my dream was impossible. I never even tried to make it real.
But that conversation did change my life. Now, every time I find myself thinking “I wish I could…,” that question pops back into my head. Why don’t you?
So… Why Don’t You?
Every time someone tells me they would love to be able to travel, I echo my Rock Star friend’s question.
“Why don’t you?” I ask, innocently. To me, it seems like the simplest thing in the world.
Now, I’m not a complete dunce; I know that some people genuinely can’t leave everything behind and travel the world. Maybe they have a physical ailment or are locked in poverty, or provide care for someone who literally couldn’t live without them.
But I’d be willing to bet that you are not one of those people.
I’d also be willing to bet that you think you are.
Your 5 Best Excuses Not To Travel
Excuse 1: I Don’t Have Enough Money
Almost everybody I know who’s taken a long-term travel break has had to work like a demon to save enough money. If this is your excuse, your first step is to examine your finances and get them in order.
Maybe you’re in debt up to your eyeballs? Then you need to become a faithful servant of Man vs Debt. He was once drowning in debt and now he travels the world full-time with his wife and toddler. On his website, he shares his own journey and gives you the knowledge to do it too.
If you’re just plain broke, you might be a victim of the overspending culture we all grew up in. There are thousands of ways to trim down your spending and add a little extra income to your income. To get your brain reorganized into a frugal (but fun) living mentality, you need Mr. Money Mustache on your side. His goal is to help you “retire early” and since leaving your job to travel the world for a couple of years is an awful lot like retirement, the inspirational and actionable tips on his site can help.
Finally, what exactly is this “enough money” you are trying to save? Plenty of people have taken off travelling with only $1000 in their pockets, planning to earn as they go. Heck, some people even claim you can travel for free.
While it’s not for everyone, if you really want to travel, you might be able to make super-budget travel work.
Excuse 2: I’m Too Old
I’ve heard this excuse from people of every age, even people as young as 30. I know plenty of people in their 70s and 80s who go on trips at least once a year. Nearly all of the cycle tourists we met in Europe were in their late 50s and 60s. We even met a woman cycling alone who was in her 80s. If she isn’t too old to travel, neither are you.
(I know this because stats tell me that almost all of our readers are not yet 55.)
Excuse 3: I Have Kids!
I have to admit, to someone with no kids, this excuse almost seems valid. It’s hard enough to take care of those little rascals in a comfortable home in your own country, am I right?
And yet, there are so many families with kids who have happily travelled for a year, two years, or indefinitely, that it convinces me: if they can do it, you can do it too.
In Slovenia, we met a French family with four kids between the ages of 5 and 11 who were cycling around Europe for six months. They told us that planning and saving for the trip was the hardest thing they’d ever done. Now that they were on the road, they were having the time of their lives.
We met a Canadian couple with two kids, 9 and 11, who were travelling Southeast Asia. The kids were loving Vietnam and told us that travelling was much better than school (duh).
If you’ve ever wondered about travelling with your kids read Travel with Kids: Why You Should Do It – And Do It Now. If that doesn’t get you motivated, nothing will.
Excuse 4: I Just Can’t Leave My Job
This excuse is often borne of insecurity. People tend to be worried that taking off to travel will make them unemployable. The truth is, travel can often make you more interesting to employers and you will certainly develop new skills as you travel. Travel can also be the catalyst to rethink your concept of work and what it should mean to you.
One of my favourite parts of travelling is meeting different people – both fellow travellers and locals – and discovering how they earn a living. If your job prospects seem narrow to you, then meeting hundreds of people in different lines of work will probably open a few avenues; the ideas are out there, you just have to ask.
Excuse 5: My Spouse Doesn’t Want To
Do you always let your spouse make your decisions for you? I thought not, so why are you letting them decide the general course of your life?
I’ll tell you a secret: my spouse doesn’t want to either. Or at least, he didn’t.
When I first told him that I wanted to bicycle tour around the world for a couple of years, Stephen thought I had gone crazy. He loved living in LA, he loved the work he was doing, and he didn’t want to leave.
He also didn’t want to ride a bike that far.
Instead of shrugging my shoulders and accepting that my fantasy was never going to come true, I got to work. Slowly but surely, over the course of a few months, I convinced him that this trip was going to be amazing!
I also compromised on my original idea to make it more palatable for him. Though I knew it would disrupt our freedom, I agreed that he should teach yoga as we went. This final compromise got him fully onboard, and he ended up enjoying the trip even more than I did.
If you really can’t convince your spouse to go, then just keep planning, and make up your mind to go without them. The idea of you travelling the world having a great time while they’re stuck at home will almost certainly win them over in the end.
If not, take a solo trip. You never know what sweet adventurous soul you might meet on the road!
Your Life Is Not a Prison
The trick is to stop looking at your particular set of excuses as a prison sentence. Everyone has barriers that keep them from taking off and travelling. If it was easy, everyone would do it, right? You will have to work to unravel the specific barriers that you face; you will have to struggle to get around them, climb over them, or just bash them to the ground.
But your excuses are not impassible Himalaya-sized walls, they are rivers that can be crossed, if only you take the time and energy to figure out how.
Are you yearning to travel the world? Why don’t you?