The email I often find in my inbox goes a little something like this: I’m unhappy/bored/trapped in my current lifestyle. I want to travel the world. How did you do it? How can I do it?
For the sake of efficiency and maybe for everyone else who’s thinking the same question, here’s my answer.
Thanks so much for reaching out! Such a big question you ask, and I’m not sure that I’m necessarily the best person to answer it, but I’ll try to give a little personal insight.
In terms of “how” I did it: I earned my degree. I got a “real job.” I saved a lot of money while working hard. And then I bought a plane ticket! And then I kept working hard–I waitressed, I worked in a cooking school, I got a desk job on the other side of the world, I wrote (a lot!)–and I kept buying plane tickets. I learned that I would rather have an address than live out of a backpack, and so I lived for about 6 months to a year in France and Australia. And now I live in New York City, where I still work really hard, and still save (some) money, so that I can still buy plane tickets.
I don’t have a magical answer to how to travel the world, other than to save your money and buy the ticket and go where you want to go. That’s the thing about life; sometimes, it’s just that easy. If you want to travel full-time, you have to be willing to leave your old life behind. If you want to travel more, that might mean cutting back on new pairs of shoes and fancy dinners out and putting that money into a travel fund instead. It might also mean looking into study abroad options, talking to your boss about how to best allocate vacation days or figuring out a way to work remotely.
But more importantly, I think it’s essential to figure out what makes you happy and to create habits that make you happier, no matter where in the world you are. I highly recommend The Happiness Project to get the juices flowing on what that might be, and to embrace an attitude of travel every day: to go for long walks in new neighborhoods, to seek out new restaurants and try different cuisines, to look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time (thus is your time on earth filled with glory).
If you’re unhappy right now, flitting over to Bali or Hawaii or whatnot isn’t necessarily going to make you happier. It might distract you and it might create some awesome Instagrams and it might make other people jealous, but sometimes those are just fancy ways of running away and masking the problem. So instead of hopping on a plane immediately, I’d spend some time thinking about what makes you happy and figuring out if being on the road is going to make you truly happier. For me, riding my bike and taking photos of colorful new streets and reading a book in a sunny cafe and walking on the beach makes me really, really happy: some of that I can do at home in New York, and some of that is just better in a sparkly new country.
The real world, and the rest of the world, will always be there. Enjoy where you are right now!
Here are a few more of my favorites on the subject: