I love reading travel blogs by people who have opted for the unconventional life of living on the road. It's exciting, adventurous and spontaneous. It's entertaining and not at all a life for me. I realized after traveling in my twenties that I yearned for both roots and adventure. Solo travel was very attractive. My body buzzed with enthusiasm every time I visited a new country, however, I also wanted a career and didn't feel trapped by the American Dream myth. I actually wanted to learn all I could about my field and invest my life in developing a deep knowledge in it. An adventurous travel lifestyle and career need not be mutually exclusive.
What I found most important is honoring space for travel as I pursued my career. A life vow I made at 21 years old to visit a different country for the rest of my life became my star to steer by. I planned for travel as I would a one or five-year goal in my career but gave it the longer horizon by proclaiming it in "forever" terms. By defining it, it was less apt to be negotiable in future relationships too. The first five years were critical, since I'd suspected that I would need the momentum to continue when career and everything thereafter was in full force.
I loved the anonymity and wonderment of travel and it was so addictive. After more than a month, though, I’d feel like an outsider looking through a snow globe at someone else's life, which left me wondering if I dive in and fully integrate or go home. I wanted to own my home, actively maintain a core group of friendships, develop mastery in my career, and sleep in my comfortable bed with that fresh-drier sheet softness. Was I gritty-enough for solo travel? Probably not. Was I as cool and sexy as full time travelers? No. Did this stop me? Absolutely not!
I wondered why it was seemingly so difficult to bring the perception of travel off the pedestal to a level that fit my lifestyle, rather than trying to mold to someone else's travel experience. It occurred to me that regret was a much higher price to pay than restructuring a mindset. Everyone’s situation is unique, but for me, it involved looking for opportunities to travel for work. I’d incorporate some of my favorite parts of traveling in my work trips, like sitting down at the restaurant bar for dinner and getting to know absolute strangers and swapping stories. It became a great way to carry the spirit of travel that I yearned for, and to adapt it to my life.
We all make allowances for other things in our lives, and often travel ends up in the mañana category. Most of even the strictest budgets have room for travel. It’s not all or nothing. And while we’re at it, we need to stop looking at the air-brushed perfect photos of those that boast full-time travel. Instead, let’s raise a glass for the everyday people that don’t have all the travel answers, best blogging tools, fantastic cameras, a trust fund, or nomadic commitment to travel. Celebrate our own path as beautiful and simple. The courage to travel to a new place and observe a different culture transforms and adapts to meet us where we are in life. We can have it all!