Want to travel? Go. Just go.
You’ve always wanted to see the ocean? Now is the time. You’ve dreamed of seeing Paris or the pyramids or the Australian outback?
Then go. Just go. Life is short.
If you’ve been waiting for a nudge, a sign from the universe that you should just do it, then here it is.
This is it. This is your sign. This is your year.
This is the year of focusing less on money and things and focusing more on people and experiences. This is the year of dreams and adventures. This is the year of doing something different, something more.
So go. Just go. It’s not as hard as you think.
Where do you start? You start with the place that has wormed its way into your heart and won’t let go. It’ll be different for everyone. And that’s okay.
Maybe it’s the #1 spot on your bucket list. Maybe it’s visiting your sister on the other side of the country. Maybe it’s eating at that restaurant you saw on TV at midnight and can’t get out of your head or visiting the land your ancestors came from to see what it feels like to stand in a place you’re connected to but have never seen. Maybe it’s playing the penny slots in Vegas or skiing in Vail or climbing Machu Picchu.
There is no right or wrong answer. This is your life. This is your adventure.
Maybe what you’re hungry for isn’t a place at all, but a feeling, an experience. Maybe you want to hike for miles under a canopy of trees or see the mountains or get lost in an unfamiliar city. Maybe you want to watch the kids splash in the water or get your first passport stamp. This is the year it’s going to happen. This is the year you’re going to do it.
So start dreaming. Make lists of what you want to see. Get lost in travel books. Subscribe to a few new travel blogs. Re-read that novel set in Tuscany or Estonia or Wyoming. Tape that postcard your cousin sent you on the bathroom mirror for inspiration. Devour photos, art and food from around the world and just let your mind wander.
Does this overwhelm you? That’s okay. You’re learning something new and it’s cool to ask for help. Ask your new Twitter friends or your globetrotting neighbor or that guy on Facebook who is always sipping a drink on a beach for suggestions. Get a reading list from your librarian or Google the tourism folks who promote the place you want to go and ask for a detailed itinerary. Call a travel agent and tell them your goals, your budget and when you want to leave. They’ll take it from there.
You’re worried you don’t have enough money? I hear that. I’ve been there. So have lots of backpackers, students, young families and budget travelers all across the world. A limited budget is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Skip the hotels and check out more affordable hostels, B&Bs and guesthouses instead. See if your place of worship or favorite relief organization offers service opportunities in other states and countries. Ask your neighbor if her uncle still needs a housesitter. Call up your foreign exchange student buddy from high school and ask if he wants to swap houses for a week.
Sign up for travel alerts so you’ll know when flights to your destination are the cheapest. Look at traveling during the off-season or shoulder season to save more money. See what you can give up. Pack a lunch instead of eating out, sell the clothes you’re not wearing, skip Saturday nights at the bar and save the money instead.
If it’s still a stretch, see if you can have the adventure you want without leaving the country or your state or province. The experiences you crave could be available right next door. You’ll never know what’s available if you don’t open your eyes and start looking.
So you say you’re just too busy to go? Wait now, are you really? Are you really so terribly important that your workplace will fall apart without you?
Leaving your vacation days unused is like handing money right back to your employer. Don’t you think that money would be better spent on gelato in Rome or lift tickets in Vail? Why not use that time to better yourself, to have an adventure, to explore somewhere new? Wouldn’t it be ultimately more effective to take a few days to relax and recharge so you can come back renewed?
So go. Just go.
If you truly don’t have vacation days, then you have my sympathy. I’ve been there too. But you can still make it work.
Switch shifts to get as many days off in a row as you can. Book your trip for the longest holiday weekend on the calendar. Call HR right this second and see if you can get a little creative about your time off. Volunteer to train new hires in another city or help at a store out of state. Make it known that you want to travel. Once you put it out there, opportunities will arise.
This is your year. This is your time. This is the year you’re going to travel. This is the year you dream it, choose it, plan it. This is the year you do it.
So go. Just go. Life is short.
You won’t regret it.
The photos in this post were taken on a beach near Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, in front of Notre Dame in Paris, from a beach shack in the south of Spain and hiking near Kamakura, Japan.
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