Have you ever heard someone say, “Boy, if I had a [insert monetary amount here] for every time I heard that, I’d be rich”? Well I have. And here’s one phrase I hear often enough that, at the price of 25 cents per utterance, I could buy everyone in the state of Illinois an ice cream cone:
“You’re so lucky. I wish I could travel like you do.”
This is ignorant. You CAN travel like I do! I’m not a motivational speaker, but I am here to lay waste to your most common excuses on why you CAN’T travel, so listen closely.
* Money. You know, if you gave up that daily $3.45 latte, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. You choose to spend your money on coffee, sofa, lunches out, happy hour, dinner out twice a week – and I choose to spend mine on plane tickets. I’m on a budget (have you seen what Educators make?). If I have to brown bag it 29 days out of 30 so I can afford a long weekend out of town, so be it. Priorities!
* Time. You need to plan ahead to get good deals, you need time to research, you just Need More Time. Unless you rob Hermione Granger for her Time Turner, that’s just not going to happen. You’re busy, I get it. Sometimes the best trips are a last minute decision, crashing on a friend’s couch and playing it by ear. You don’t need perfect weather or a long standing reservation. You need motivation. Get some.
* See also Timing. Just this past weekend I was at a local winery and the owner’s wife was waxing poetic about going to Spain. “My husband told me we could maybe possibly probably go one day. Before I die.” Imagine the look on my face. Imagine what I said in response: “Before I die is a poor excuse for a deadline. ‘In two years’ is a more achievable goal.” A billion people put themselves in this very same situation, shooting themselves in the foot before they even get started. When I talked about New Year’s resolutions, I mentioned SMART goals (like a true business student): specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Don’t get all wistful and misty-eyed and say you’ll go to Spain “someday” .. make it a reality.
* Marital status. Yes, my travel habits are born of independent decisions, but just because I’m single doesn’t mean I travel more, or less. If you’re in a committed relationship and travel is one of your goals / passions / ideals, don’t go pointing the finger at your partner, or your relationship and casting blame. Either make the decision together – or go solo!
* Fear of solo travel. If this is your beef, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I am at my happiest when traveling solo. You can point to Only Child Syndrome if you want to, but the reality of it is: group travel is the pits. Ask anyone who has traveled with an athletic team, debate club, or high school band for a prolonged period of time. People get on your nerves! While I realize that tandem travel is both more fun and arguably safer, who’s to say you can’t go it alone?
* Dependent status. Got kids? Take them with you! Get a babysitter! Don’t tell me I don’t get it because I’m not a parent. I’ve been traveling for years and have met tons of families, single parents and Mr. Moms from various walks of life. They figured it out, I’m sure you could, too. Who cares if your baby cries on a plane? Sometimes ADULTS want to cry on a plane (and do). Stop worrying about what other people think and just give it a go.
* Homeowner status. Yes, owning a home makes you king of the hill and responsible for mowing your own lawn. Do you know how many people snow-bird in the winter and take flight for warmer temperatures for months at a time? Surely you can leave your white picketed pasture behind and head for the shore for two days. Just because I rent doesn’t mean I can pick up and go whenever I want to. There’s this thing called Responsibility, and it has nothing to do with the way I pay rent.
* Age. The second most used statement is, “do it while you’re young.” Did you know that 7% of Peace Corps Volunteers are over the age of 50? Fact. There is no perfect time to travel. I do not recall the sound of chimes at 17 when I first got on a plane to Florida. The Mad Hatter and his hare did not usher me into my 20’s, pushing me onto a plane for Spain (it was an important date, but I was not late). I don’t know where this idea of a time frame on travel came from, but it’s bogus. A fairytale, if you will.
So make your own coffee, apply for your passport, throw a dart at a map and go. You’ll be glad you did.
Memphis, Tennessee for me this weekend. New city, new state, excess BBQ and the King. Thank ya very much.