Whether they’re words, sights, sounds, or smells, I’ve experienced several distinct, powerful moments that served as inspiration to travel. Just a few minutes ago I was reminded of one of those moments. I found a note I wrote before my trip to Australia about an experience I had in early 2008, and I can’t help but share the brief encounter that gave me a boost of confidence.
In April of 2008, a business trip took me to San Francisco for the first time. On an afternoon off, I caught up with a friend who lives just outside of the city, and we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. On the return trip a man asked us to take his photo…a man with an accent! He was from New Zealand and traveling around across the USA. He spoke about his journey, and I shared my interest in one day embarking on a RTW trip — or at least on a long-term adventure. As soon as I mentioned that New Zealand and Australia were high on my list, he emphatically cut in with a “DO IT.”
That was it. That was his advice. It was so matter-of-fact and simple, but something about the way he said it made me feel like it would actually happen one day. Something in my mind (or heart) felt like I was turning a corner. That the notion of resigning from a job, (temporarily) leaving my family and friends, and living on the opposite side of the world wasn’t such an overwhelming concept after all.
Many months would pass before I would make the decision to travel long term, and for several months after that I vacillated between doing a proper RTW or picking a region or country to focus on. Obviously, I chose the latter — at least for now.
After saying goodbye to the man on the bridge, my friend and I continued walking, and I said, “If I ever do end up traveling long-term and people ask why, I’m going to say that the Kiwi on the Golden Gate Bridge made me do it.”
He gets partial credit anyway.
Another friend emailed me in the midst of my travel indecision with some wise advice:
“Can you hear yourself saying ‘I had the opportunity to just leave for a round the world trip, but if I had I wouldn’t be where I am today’ or ‘I took a round the world trip and if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be where I am today’? Neither are negative – you’ll have different life experiences no matter which you choose, both a mix of good and bad I’m sure.”
I remember a tiny voice instead of me saying, “Choose travel, choose travel!” After living in Australia for a year, I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience.
In early 2009, a friend revealed that she wanted to leave her job to travel to New Zealand, and we excitedly discussed her plans. Sometime during our conversation, the peace and mindset I had been waiting for arrived, and I went to bed that night finally ready to make the dream of long-term travel a reality. The fears I had about leaving a job, missing a year in the life of friends and family, and potentially coming home with more questions than I left with had evaporated.
In a few days, I will have been home from my year in Australia for six months — SIX MONTHS!! I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, but I’m pretty sure the “one year anniversary” of returning home will be here before I know it too.
I pray that in the next six months I’ll continue making progress toward my goal of greater mobility and location independence — I don’t count on being there just yet, but I want to continue moving forward. I hope that another powerful moment of travel inspiration comes my way and I am able tackle another destination on my bucket list. I find I’m quite comfortable being at home at the moment — and there’s nothing wrong with that(!) — but I know I want the travel bug to return sooner or later.
Any special moments that stand out for you in helping you make the plunge on a RTW trip or long-term travel?