Taking your dream trip isn’t only possible, it’s an absolute necessity for your psychological, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
The Top 10 Excuses….. *Debunked*
#1: But I can’t afford it…
By far, the most common rationalization for not traveling is that it costs too much money. The flight. The telly. The grub. The activities. The psychedelic drugs. The whole freaking shabang. Stop thinking you need money to travel. This is nonsensical, my ninja.
Frequent Flyer Points. If you’re American, you’re one lucky bastard. Taking advantage of frequent flyer points is by far the easiest way to minimize/eliminate your travel costs. I flew round-trip to Japan and stayed for 4 nights at one of the nicest Hyatts in the world for $50 (video below). If you can’t capitalize on frequent flyer points, you can still find great deals if you take out your magnifying glass.
Go Somewhere Dope But Cheap. Thailand, Bali, Vietnam, India, Costa Rica, Argentina, Hungary… If you pick wisely, you can live like royalty for less than a peasant’s pocket. When I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, every day I would get a $4 hour-long massage, a 66¢ fresh fruit smoothie (large), and a $1 cornucopia of vegetarian food. I paid $15 for one month of high speed 3G data on a SIM-card that I plugged into my iPhone that also allowed me to tether internet access to my computer. Dope, but cheap.
Cover Your Expenses. Skip watching Dexter one night and spend an hour preparing a nice ad for Craigslistor AirBnB so you can sublet your apartment while you’re gone and not pay rent. I know this can feel a little uncomfy at first, but remember that you’re going to interview the prospective people to make sure you love ’em. You can also suspend your cell phone, Amazon Prime, Netflix, gym membership and other subscriptions while you’re gone.
#2: But I don’t have the time…
The next excuse people use is that they can’t afford the time away. From work. From family. From school. From Grandpa Joe. From shit-faced Saturdays at Shenanigans bar. Erroneous.
Get Your Priorities Straight. Fast forward to the end of your life and imagine… You’re laying on your deathbed, about to die. Unfortunately, your whole life, you kept telling yourself that were gonna take that dream trip of yours, but you never actually did. Any regrets…? Listen – it’s a bold move to take a sick trip, but if not now, then when? When you get that promotion? When you land your next client? When you’re married with kids and need to depend on your parents to watch your rug-rats?
Make the Time. You deserve time off work – and you absolutely need it for your psychological, emotional, and spiritual stability. Think specifically about the objections your boss would have if you asked for some time off – then think about how you can prepare for those. For instance, train someone to cover your responsibilities. Take the iPhone/laptop with you and remotely check email daily for 30 minutes. Attend weekly conference calls if you really need to. Truly commit to making this dream trip happen, and with some patience, persistence, and diligent planning, it will.
You Don’t Need That Much Time. Taking 5 weeks to travel through Europe is a dream come true. But you don’t need a month to take your dream trip. What about the vacation time you’ll get in the next year? How about extending a long weekend? The idea is to get outta your bubble.
#3: But I’ve got no one to go with…
Saying you won’t travel because you have no companion is like saying you won’t eat cuz you don’t have dinner company. Some of my absolute best travel experiences came from my solo-trips which forced me to FULLY take in the experience while allowing me to express myself authentically without constant reaffirmation of my role and identity.
Stay At A Hostel. Hostels are breeding grounds for great adventures, cheap wine, and lifelong FB buddies. Most of the ones I’ve stayed at have had a ton of spunk/culture and allowed me to create incredibly meaningful connections with weirdos from all over the world (who were often also traveling alone). A lot of hostels also have daily activities for you to take advantage of (hikes, tours, events, communal dinners, etc.), so you don’t need to be a gregarious extrovert to bond and venture.
Plan Out Events. Love yoga? Go to a yoga festival. Like meditation? Hit up a meditation retreat. Passionate about dance? Find a concert you’d love to check out. The point is to put yourself in places where you’ll find peeps who align with your values – then connecting with like-minded people will be a no-brainer. For me, those values are autonomy, growth, excitement, authenticity, connection, contribution, and love –Ubud, Bali was a dope place to find peeps that shared these values.
Put Your Trip Out There. When I went back to Europe for my second time (in 2010), I went with a homeboy of mine. I had committed to going, regardless of whether anyone joined me or not, but by telling people of the excursion I was about to take, my friend decided to join me for the first 5 weeks of the trip. Same thing with my trip in Hawaii right now – Dave committed to coming here by booking his ticket, and it forced me to get my shit together and make it happen. Post your plans on Facebook, tell your friends, reach out to your network – see if anyone you know knows anyone in the place you’d wanna go!
#4: But it’s not safe to travel (alone)…
Thinking that other countries are dangerous based on the media’s mumblings is like other countries thinking the US is riddled with a million Timothy McVeighs. Don’t send your kid to school or she’ll get executed by a batman enthusiast…
Do Your HW. Check out the current travel warnings for safe countries to visit – 90 percent of the places you wanna visit are fine. No matter where you go, don’t be a doofus – keep your valuables concealed, stay out of dark alleyways, and avoid eye contact with the dude who’s debating with air. If you can ride a subway in NYC, Thailand will be a breeze.
Check With Your Hotel/Hostel. Simply ask the front desk where they suggest you go, and if there are any areas you should stay out of. I’ve spent a significant portion of my childhood raising ruckus both in and outta the hood in NYC. And as a grown fucking man, I still don’t feel safe in selective sections of NYC – so I just don’t go there.
Protect Ya Neck. If you’re gonna stay in a hostel, take a combination lock for the locker and a bicycle chain to fetter your bag to the bed. You don’t *absolutely* need these things, and as long as you’re staying somewhere trustworthy, you can keep your valuables in their safe. Read reviews when booking, and again, just don’t be an idiot and you’ll be fine.
#5: But I’ve never done it before…
Remember back when you were a virgin? Were you disappointed when sex became a regular part of your life? Now imagine what life would be like if you used your virginity as an excuse for never having sex. Same thing goes for travel – the more you do it, the better you get, and that awkward uncertainty turns to passionate pleasure.
Do Some Diggin’. Posts like this will help prep you for the trip. Also, there are tons of travel blogs out there that can help prep you for taking the trip of your life. (Got any favorites? Post ’em in the comments.)
Work On Your F*cking Attitude. Get this down and your trip will be infinitely improved. The purpose of your trip isn’t for everything to go right – it’s to use travel as a vehicle for your values (for me: freedom, growth, inspiration, adventure, authenticity, connection, and love). Sometimes the best experiences come when shit gets all fucked up. I was once scheduled to fly home to NYC from Portland on a SouthWest flight which got canceled. I went to see when the next available flight would be and I ended up going on a mini day-date with a beautiful stewardess in the airport for the next hour and a half.
Start Learning, Ya Newb. If not now, then when? Tell yourself whatever you want, but if you can’t start planning to make this trip happen within the next year, you’ll full of (sh)it. It took me years to learn to use packing cubes, to bring 20 Larabars and a pouch of Ambien for long flights and jet lag – but I slowly picked up these tricks along the way. Wake up, sleepy head.
#6. But I don’t speak the language…
Another common rookie mistake. Out of all the countries I’ve been to, I’ve dedicated less than an hour to learning the native languages. If linguistics is your thing, then by all means, invest some time in learning the language. But if you have no interest in exerting your energy in this arena, don’t.
English, Motherf*cker. Do You Speak it?! Here’s the thing. A Thai person and an Israeli meet in Brazil – guess how they verbally try to communicate… Samuel L. Jackson should be able to shed some light on that. ENGLISH! It is the language of the world. Everyone knows at least a word or two and that leaves you with a massive advantage!
Welcome To 2013: Phone Apps. You can use apps to translate words, sentences and signs, and even give you a list of pictures you can show people to signify the message you’re trying to communicate. Here are a few handy apps. (Got any other favorites? Share them in the comments!)
Learn A Few Words: Do a quick Google-gaga search for the most popular words and phrases of the language in the country your visiting. Bathroom is always a good one to learn. Hello, goodbye, thank you,and beer are usually pretty clutch too. If you get a Lonely Planet guidebook for the place you’re visiting, they’ll list the most important words and translations, as well as the best events to check out during the time of year you’re there.
#7: But what about all the paperwork…?
I’m a *HUGE* fan of doing boring shit… said no one, ever. I leer at laborious tasks with little stimulation. So booking flights, looking into paperwork, and booking accommodation feel like black holes waiting to suck me in. But lucky for you, you’re American! This will reduce your hassle by 83%. Out of the 18 countries I’ve recently gone to, I’ve never once needed to apply for a visa ahead of time.
Your Passport / Visa. If you don’t have a passport, apply for one 6 weeks before your trip. If your passport is running outta pages or will expire in the next 6 months, apply for a new one. Check the visa requirements of the country you’re going to – if you need one, just get one. Scan or take iPhone pics of all your important info (passport, visa, travel / health insurance documents) and email them to yourself. If you really wanna nerd out on safety, you can also have a second physical copy and keep it in a different bag.
Travel Insurance. I’m not a big travel insurance dude but if it makes you feel better, you can usually find it fairly cheaply. Peace of mind is priceless, so you may wanna jump on that.
Health Insurance. Incredibly, buying health insurance for your trip is much cheaper than buying it at home. I’ve used SquareMouth but have never needed to cash in on the service.
#8: But I’m afraid I’ll get sick…
For a long time, whenever I hit the road, I’d always end up getting sick after a few days. WTF? In retrospect, it makes sense, but at the time it was incredibly annoying.
Don’t Be A Pig, Porky. Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you should abandon any and all aspects of your health. For sure, indulge in the local food and go out to party, but make sure you’re still eating your veggies, drinking plenty of water, and getting at least 7 hours of sleep.
Who’s Shooting? Awww, made you look! If you’re gonna hit up some of the more third world type countries, look into what shots you’ll need beforehand. I got a bunch of shots before I spent 2 months in Southeast Asia last year – Jodi’s Legal Nomads helped me understand which ones to get.
Don’t Slip On Water. Check to make sure the water is drinkable for Americans. Surprisingly, it is in Thailand, yet it’s not in the Dominican Republic. Bring some Pepto Bismol in case your bowels loosen up.
#9. But I’m afraid I’ll get lost…
I would hope so! Getting lost is an integral part of the adventure. Sometimes you need to get lost in order to find what’s important. Fucking up can be made fun. Proof…
Rock w/ a GPS. Unlock your phone before you go and get a local SIM-card which gives you data access. When I was in Bangkok, I called Verizon to tell them I was traveling and they unlocked my phone for free. Then I picked up a $15 SIM-card that lasted for a month and used Google Maps on my phone to help me get around. I’ve done the same thing in Bali and England as well.
Bring the Addy w/ You. If you’re staying at a hotel or hostel, take a card from the front desk so if you ever get lost, you can show local people the address of where you’re staying and they can route you home. Worst case scenario, look for a taxi and show the driver the card.
Embrace It. Getting lost in a city is oftentimes the best way to see it. Go for a walk and see where it takes you. Allow yourself the freedom to explore the city (and yourself).
#10: But I’m afraid I’ll run outta money…
Pace yourself, panther. If you follow all the tips we’ve spoken about so far in this post, you’re gonna be fine. A few words on keeping your wallet in check:
Hostels. Most of my friends who think “hostel,” immediately think “horror movie.” But hostels are undoubtedly some of the dopest places to stay when traveling. Depending on the country, you can find a dorm-style room for anywhere from $8-$40 per night. Hostels also offer a certain sense of character that you won’t find in hotels. HostelWorld.com is the shit – I only books joints that have an 80% or higher rate (preferably high 80s).
Check With Your Credit Card. Hit up your CC company and see if there’s a foreign transaction fee if you want to use your card wherever you’re going. If there is, tell them where you’re going and see if they can suggest another card which doesn’t have a fee. If you’re heading to Europe, look for a card with one of those chips in it. You’ll also wanna let your CC company know you’re traveling so they don’t get suspicious of foreign transactions. (While CCs usually give you the best conversion rates, I also take a few hundred bucks in both local and foreign cash, which you can get from your bank with a few days’ notice.)
Create A Budget. So you’ve got 2 grand to spend? Well, you can probably make that stretch 3+ weeks in Europe while living pretty luxuriously. By the same token, you could probably live for 4 months in some parts of South East Asia for that much. When I was in Thailand and Bali, I got an hour-long massage almost every single day (!!!) for 2 months. They ranged from $4-$6. 60 massages = $300. 🙂 Budget that buddy.
The Excuse No One Talks About
#11: But I’m afraid my life will be even worse after…
Let’s face it… most of us won’t admit it, but the paradox of travel is that we’re both excited *and* nervous about it. Here’s the thing: wherever you go, it’s not so much about being there. It’s that you’re away from your assumptions about what life has to be like. You’re giving yourself a context in which education isn’t only permitted, it’s unavoidable. This can be scary for some because change isn’t always easy or fun.
Life Doesn’t Need To Change. Just because you took a trip that opened your eyes, doesn’t mean you need to completely abandon your life back home. Sometimes, the only thing that actually changes after your dream trip is your perspective on life. Maybe you grow a greater appreciation for your home and life. Maybe you decide to do some volunteer work. Or maybe you just have a few good stories to tell when you’re at the water cooler.
Long Term Vision. If the trip you take touches you so profoundly that a major life change is required, you don’t need to be an idiot about it. Give yourself time to explore options and opportunities. When I took the trip that changed my life back in 2009, I knew I didn’t wanna go back to my old job forever, but I went back for 6 months while I brainstormed ways to save some cake and make it work. Those 6 months were better than any of the 2 years before, because the heaviness and denseness had been lifted since I knew I was leaving.
Travel Is A Vehicle. The type of trip I’m imagining isn’t MTV’s spring break in Cancun where promiscuous women are groping my bubble-butt and violating my innocence. My dream trip may have a pinch of that, but it’s more about creating the conditions to allow my soul to grow. It’s about getting a deeper understanding of myself and the possibilities for my life. And it’s about developing connections with people grounded in love, excitement, fascination, and growth. Travel is the vehicle I use for this, but when I’m not traveling, I find other vehicles which allow me to do the same.