Whatever you do, don’t do what I did. I always knew I wanted to travel. I came up with various schemes that would land me abroad. I bought a book on teaching English overseas when I was in college. I researched the Peace Corps 3 years ago. I looked into volunteer travel programs. But until I turned 31 and hit a critical mass with my job, I never went overseas for long term travel. I threw up obstacle after obstacle for myself. I talked myself out of going.
Now that I’ve made the decision to go, those things I thought would make it impossible, have melted away. I couldn’t make the decision and just leave the next day, but in a few months worth of planning, saving, and researching, I have everything in place to travel for the next 6 months or the next 6 years.
If you’re struggling with whether or not to travel overseas on an extended basis, don’t worry you’re not alone. It’s natural to have concerns and reservations. For me the key was to simply decide to take this urge to travel seriously. Then one by one, I tried to answer my own objections. Your objections may be different, and your answers will definitely be. Getting the nerve to go is not about reckless abandonment of your responsibilities, but rather a measured, reasoned examination of the facts. What exactly is preventing you from going? Are they real concerns? Can you work around them? As I went through this process, here are some of the things struggled with, and how I ultimately answered the questions for myself.
Overcoming my internal objections:
What if I don’t like living abroad? Then I come back. I have an escape route.
Won’t I be throwing away my career? People change their careers all the time. It truly is not the end of the world.
What about my debt? Pay down high interest rate credit cards. Defer your 4% student loans, or make payments from the road. Sell or rent your house. Everyone’s situation is different.
How will I make money? For me it is freelance, working remotely. In this day, it’s so much easier to work anywhere you can get an internet connection.
How will I finance it? Save some money. Live well beneath your means. Pick a country that is cheap. Work on the road.
Where will I live? Rent an apartment. It’s not much different than living in the US. Instead of searching on craigslist, find the country specific sites.
What about my dogs? I have two dogs, and they’re coming with us. A simple microchip, health certificate and travel crate will get them overseas with us (obviously really depends on your country of choice).
What about my kids? I don’t have any, but a year abroad could be an amazing learning experience for your family. Many people have done it.
What about my stuff? Sell it. Store it. It’s just stuff and no reason to ditch your dreams.
Where should I go? Start researching! Use your interests as your guide. I always wanted to learn Spanish, so I picked Spain and Mexico City as my first two homes.
What about learning the language? People have gone both ways on this. Some get by with no second language. I am studying before my trip. My Spanish teacher estimates I’ll be fluent after three months abroad. Your mileage may vary.
What if I don’t do it right? This always haunts me, but I have to let go of it. I might end up picking somewhere that isn’t perfect for me. I might pay too much for an apartment. I might be making a decision that I will regret. It’s okay, do your best, and don’t let perfectionism freeze you in your tracks.
What if I can’t do this? You can! Don’t let uncertainty prevent you from trying.
Should I really do this? Yes, if you want to!
These were the questions and answers in my personal journey… What are some of the things that prevent you from traveling?