Advice For Traveling And Life

by Kim on April 24, 2011 · 45 comments

Advice on Life and Travel

When I tell people about our plans to travel the world I am normally met with one of two reactions. 

Reaction #1

“Awesome! Life is for living, follow your dreams!”

“Did you know that when I was (enter age here) I spent 18 months traveling through (enter exotic location here)?  Best years of my life.”

“Do it now while you’re young.  I guarantee you won’t regret it.”

Reaction #2

“Why don’t you wait for retirement to travel?” (By the way, here is why we’re not waiting for retirement.)

“That seems a little frivolous, don’t you think?”

“Have you considered how hard it will be to find jobs when you return, especially in this economy.”

Oh, if I had a nickle for every time I heard that last one. 

The way I see it, Brian and I have two choices. 

We can focus on the positive and well-meaning advice that people give us or we can let the less supportive folks scare us into believing we are making a bad decision. 

Well, we choose to focus on the positive and supportive words that people have sent our way. 

In celebration of that, I’m sharing five pieces of good advice I’ve received through the years.  I’ve selected these five pieces because I find myself continuously coming back to them during this time of prepping and planning.  I mull them over in my mind whenever I feel uncertain about our decision.

Five Good Pieces of Advice

1.  You won’t score if you don’t shoot.

I’ve played soccer since I was five years old and I still play today, though I’m not quite what I used to be.  Playing sports has had a profound effect on my life.  Soccer taught me about teamwork and hard work and dedication.  Soccer taught me that I might give my all and lose anyway.  It taught me how good it feels to win but also made me intimately familiar with how crappy it feels to lose.  I’ve learned over the years not to get too comfortable with either feeling. 

Our soccer team

2.  Don’t worry about how anyone else sees you, just go out and do the things that excite you.

My co-worker, a brilliant and insightful women, passed these words along to me one day as I was spouting off my eight-bazillion anxieties about quitting my job to travel.  Her advice automatically silenced my racing mind and I ran back to my desk to jot down her words before I lost them forever.

3.  When you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life think back to what you loved to do as a kid.

When I was a kid I liked to eat pretzel sticks, play soccer, read books, catch lightening bugs, tromp through the woods, write poems and explore every nook and cranny of my neighborhood.  I didn’t do these things because someone told me they were things I should be doing, I did them because they made me excited and stirred my imagination.  Don’t we still seek that kind of stimulation in our lives as adults?  I know I’ll never be a professional pretzel stick eater (damn!) but pursuing a career that involves reading, writing, exploring and being outdoors feels completely natural to me. 

4.  Traveling has made my bank account poor but my life so very rich.

This piece of wisdom didn’t come to me directly, I read it on a travel blog when I first began searching the Internet for people that had already done what I was dreaming of doing. I don’t remember where I read it so I can’t give the author credit, but these words have stuck with me for a long time now.  There is more than one way to be rich in life.

Hidden stairway in Italy

5.  If you don’t decide what you want out of life, life will decide for you.

My mom used to tell me this and I have to admit that, for many years, I didn’t know exactly what she was talking about when she said it.  Recently, though, it has started to make a lot of sense.  Life happens.  You can kick back and let its momentum carry you where it may or you can paddle like mad and choose your own direction.  Paddling takes more effort but it’s the only way to control the direction you move in. 

What’s the best advice you’ve received?