By Emily Shea
I am going to tap back into my pre-traveling mind and sit down with anyone longing for distant places, who hasn’t yet taken that first empowering step out of their country. You are one of many in this category-a very small percentage of Americans, for example, have ever traveled to Europe. Why is this, when so many plan to wander through the wine vineyards of Italy, climb the Eiffel Tower or stroll about the land of their ancestors in Ireland, England, Germany and so on? We always say, “Someday, I’ll go there.” Unfortunately, this isn’t a thing you should put off for long, lest it never come to fruition. Don’t listen to the words that hold you back in your own mind…
1. “When my bills are in order, I’ll go.”
Here’s a horrifying thought-what if your bills are never in order? Right now, you could be a college student, making it by on part time jobs and loans from Mom and Dad. You could be a fresh graduate, just entering the first years of a real career. Maybe you’re a new parent, and we all know babies aren’t cheap. Have teenagers who want the newest gadget or clothes?-not a good time to blow money on a trip! Kids going into college?-forget about it. My point is, you’ll always have big events along the road of your life, and if you don’t force a detour now and then, you’ll never stop to see what else is out there.
2. “It might be dangerous there.”
Yes, this is a favorite for your friends and family to whisper or shout to you. Central America has a vicious drug cartel, the sex slave trade will get you in Europe, and you’ll most certainly catch a bug in Asia. It makes me wonder what the warnings are for “foreigners” to come to the States! I’m going to be very honest with you right now, if fear for your safety is the cause for a sedentary life-I’ve been to both borders of Costa Rica and between, I’ve explored Europe from Norway to the South of France, and the West and East coasts of Australia (the land of the world’s deadliest animals). My brother has studied in India and Thailand and can’t wait to get back. We have never felt as in danger outside of the US than in our own city of Baltimore. Sure, a disease-carrying bug might bite me here in Costa Rica, but IF that were to happen, there’s very affordable health care in town, and the doctors here assure me I would not lose a leg. I could have been robbed in Nicaragua, but they would have left me unharmed and just one iPhone less.
3. “I will go when the kids are older.”
My kids are three and one. We’ve taken our first to Norway for a summer, and the both of them to Costa Rica for most of 2013. Let me think of what we’d be doing in Maryland right now, had we decided to listen to this travel-squasher… I’d be bundling my kids up to walk around in their own house, and potentially to the nearby playground (if I’m feeling adventurous), maybe go to the grocery store for some flare, wait for my husband to finish up his work around eight o’clock, cook and clean up dinner and sit down to absorb some crap on the TV. Lovely. Would this really be better, safer, healthier for my kids? They might prefer digging on the beach any sunny month of the year, learning about sea turtles, or discovering monkeys and parrots when Mommy points them out in the trees. They might like hearing a new language spoken to them every day by real people than on computer programs. I have a hunch your kids will benefit from traveling, so listen to your wild side and give them a childhood their peers will drool over in the future.
4. “I’ll travel when I retire.”
Will you, though? With the precarious state of Social Security and rising dependence on prescription drugs, will you be financially comfortable, fit and willing to travel later in life? If you do have a cozy nest egg built up by then, you might have adorable grandchildren, and what’s harder to leave than that? You also might be too tired to hike Machu Picchu, or swim with dolphins-forget about surfing. Do you really want to spend your golden years exploring, when all you might want to do is rest? I suppose there’s no way to know for sure. But what you can know for sure is how you’re feeling now. Don’t wait until your desire, hope or thrill for adventure dissipates. Live the life of your dreams while you still have the energy to keep up with it. When your last years arrive, do you think you’ll regret traveling when you were younger? Or, will you be happy you waited?
Listen to your gut, and book that first glorious ticket out of the mundane. If money is a question, forgo that extra junk food, pack of cigarettes, night of drinking and debauchery (or if you are a particularly upstanding person, which I’m sure you are, you could resist any new unnecessary items) and tuck the savings into a traveling fund-only touchable for plane tickets, passports, or bungalow bookings. Make it happen for yourself, because you deserve to see the place of your daydreams. If you can do it only once, you’ll break from rut of these thoughts that keep you stuck in somedays, which might end up to become nevers.