Traveling the world is easier than ever with quick access to worldly destinations, online bookings, GPS, and social media. We can essentially plan an entire trip from the comfort of our couch or while browsing the Internet at our work. The world is quite literally at our fingertips, so why not plan a trip if it’s so easy?
Booking travel may be simple with today’s technological advantages, but I am constantly told by people – whether these be family members, friends, acquaintances, or someone I happen to converse with in the grocery store – that they wish they could take off, but they just can’t. My answer?
If you want to then you can.
And then I am bombarded by reasons, excuses, anxieties, you name it. Of course, there is truth to the fact that not everyone can travel the way they wish they could. A new mother probably isn’t going to take off on a six-month backpacking trip – though I am sure she could if she really wanted to. Someone with thousands of dollars in student loans probably should not fly to Asia and forget about their debts, but even they can, if they want to.
The point is if you want anything badly enough then the only obstacle truly in your way is you. If you really want to travel then save your money, figure out a timeline that works for you, figure out a situation that works for you, and then take the travel plunge.
My best advice is to not worry over every minor detail about traveling. I hate to break it to you, but no matter how much you plan, you cannot control every situation. And you may realize you don’t want to.
When I was 21 years old, my best friend and I decided to plan a six-week trip to Europe. When I say “plan” I really mean we planned this trip, down to the day. We made an itinerary of everything we wanted to do in each city, we booked all our flights, hostels and Airbnbs beforehand, and we even talked about any and all the “what-ifs” we could think of. Needless to say the entire trip went smoothly, we did not encounter any issues, and we were quite pleased with ourselves. However, one thing that was missing from our trip was spontaneity. We knew exactly where we would be on any given day of our trip, and though it worked for us given our long list of places we wanted to see and tight time-line, I felt we may have missed part of the point of traveling.
So, after University, I decided I needed a slightly different trip. I asked myself where I wanted to go, somehow chose Costa Rica, and then I booked a round trip flight. I arranged to volunteer in a hostel for one month, and I booked a Yoga Teacher Training course. At the time, I thought it was wild of me to book a round ticket three months apart without knowing what I would do for a whole month of the trip. But I took the plunge and when January 2018 came, I took off with my backpack and I set off to Costa Rica.
Little did I know I would fall absolutely in love…
I fell in love with the country, the town, the hostel and the people that I came to call family. I extended my one-month volunteer position to two months and I had difficulty saying goodbye when it was time to leave for my yoga teacher training. I knew I needed to go elsewhere after my training, but it did not sit well with me to fly back to Canada in less than a month. That is when I decided that I would not take my flight back in April. So, after my training, I went to Nicaragua to teach yoga, met more amazing people, and then I went back to Costa Rica to volunteer in the same hostel. I then went to Guatemala and Mexico, spending a total of six months in Central America before returning for another month in October.
When I first decided to travel I did not expect my trip would turn out as it did. I met so many kind, beautiful people, had life-changing, unforgettable experiences, and as cliché as it sounds, I learned so much about myself and grew as a person.
Though taking the travel plunge was terrifying at the time, it was the most important decision I have thus far made in my life. Of course, there were times I had to confront fears such as running out of money, being alone, getting lost, being a victim of a crime, or becoming extremely homesick. And perhaps it was not all glamourous. There were some very difficult and trying times, but it was so worth it.
I hope that for those who want to travel, they know they can. Whether it be a two-week trip, or a two-year trip, the decision to travel is always in your hands. And if you have that itch, I say take the plunge.