Updated: Apr 5, 2019
Seeing the world from a different perspective, through unbiased eyes, gives me an education no classroom ever could.
I began my adult life at 17, by joined the U.S. Air Force, with the idea of getting a couple of bucks for college and seeing some of the world.
All on Uncle Sam's dime, of course. In hindsight, the Navy might have been a better option to maximize travel, but I remember getting queasy on 2 hour whale watching trips and harbor tours, so I quickly ruled out boats. I eventually spent 2 years in Asia (Japan, South Korea and the Philippines), and the experience really opened my eyes.
I didn't appreciate it then as much as I do now, plus I was only seeing things thru a young Serviceman's eyes. I now wish I had continued to travel then, my life would've gone in a totally different direction.
Fast forward a few years
..and now there's a marriage and young-uns. Your life is no longer your own. The things you thought you would be doing, places you thought you would be going, are no longer the agenda.
I don't have to tell most of you how that happens, how relationships and kids and buying houses and starting careers, how all of those things can have a life of their own.
You may take a two-week vacation a year or a short cruise here and there, but basically you plan to ‘travel more, hobby more, do what I really want to do’ after you retire. There is an old saying that youth is wasted on the young, and I couldn’t agree more.
Does. This. Sound. Familiar.
“Once the kids are older, out of the house, off to college, etc, I’m going to do this or that?”
Or how about, “if we ever break up, I’m going go to (insert name of exotic country here!)”
Well, by the time any of that happens, you’re probably either too old, too ill or too tired to really enjoy it!
After a second failed marriage (yea, yea I know), I came to that fork in the road. That place where you have to decide left or right, yes or no.
Some people call that a mid-life crisis, but it wasn’t really. It’s just that point where you want to take stock of your life, and you try and figure out what you want the second half of your life to look like. You’re not a kid anymore, but you’re still young and healthy enough to make positive changes. And now, thank goodness, you have the wisdom to make better informed decisions.
Every thought of my future self, contained at least one image of me traveling abroad. Me exiting a plane in a new locale, trying to buy things in a language I didn’t understand. Learning about and respecting a different culture.
Doing so, both with friends and solo.
The choice for me was simple, but the execution less so.
I knew I would still have responsibilities of course, but I had to learn to make ME a priority. Decide, then act.
For me, once I book the flight, it’s a done deal.
Everything else gets calendared. That invite to your sisters’ 44th birthday party, 'sorry sis I’ll be out of town then'. That new project at work, 'sorry boss, got vacay on the books'. No one else available to go with you... Oh well, guess I'll be making some new friends on the road. Once you get that mindset, it becomes easier and easier.
I’ve gotten to the point now that friends will text me, and ask if I’ll be in the country on such and such date, before they invite me to something. Co-workers now look forward to my trips, so they can quiz me about it when I return. Now that’s what I call prioritizing!
Now don't get me wrong, there can be some challenges with constant travel to be sure, but I just turn them into opportunities. Opportunities to learn and to grow. Seeing the world from a different perspective, through unbiased eyes, gives me an education no classroom ever could.
Traveling, especially solo, takes a bit of courage and forces you to step outside of your comfort zone. I get a certain rush from thinking about and planning my next adventure.
Traveling isn’t just what I do, its become part of who I am.
That’s the why and how of it in a nutshell. Your why’s and your how’s may be different. I highly recommend you strive to see more than the boundaries of your own Country, and hopefully my next article, why you should travel, may inspire you.
It doesn’t just have to be about travel, mind you. It could be about anything that is important to you. I have other interests and hobbies, but the idea remains the same, put yourself first.
To your freedom…