It takes a lot of time and effort to get future explorers traveling freely. It's astonishing what a challenging concept this can be, and I personally blame it on the severely messed up culture we're all running around in. It can be a long, daunting road, full of dead ends, tears and guilt and mistakes. There's also fun stuff on the way, but make no mistake, gratifying travel is not an easy thing to learn. But let's waste no more time on hand-shakes and introduction. This is how free traveling is done.
- Soundtrack of the report
- Laura Marling
Rule #1: Permission
First, let's get this out of the way. There are several ways to understand freedom. You can be free to eat bananas for breakfast, lunch and dinner and free from plans and expectations. But for the purpose of this article freedom is both, and in a nutshell free is happy.
There just one golden rule to free traveling and it should be carved in walls of every airport, bus and train station out there: no one decides when, where, how and for how long you travel but you.
You are an adult. You respect yourself. You make your own choices. I don't care if you have money in your bank account, or how big responsibilities back at home are - you have unconditional permission to follow your dreams - in any amount.
There are no laws, legal or moral, to stop you.And even if you have a piece of reality or a commitment of some sort, such as illness or family, it is your choice to either let it hold you back, or not. Am I telling you to do something that will make your condition worsen, end your relationship or leave you jobless? No, of course not - but that is your choice to make. It is also your right to figure out what works for you. And even in the most extreme scenario, you are still the only one who can make the choice.
Traveling is your right. And it makes no difference how insecure you think you are, no matter how often you get lost on your way to the supermarket, no matter how much you know or don't know about world, no matter what your concerned family or friends say, no matter who tells you what. You have the right to travel and never let anyone convince you otherwise.
We need a little bit of science here. If you dream about traveling, traveling is your need. Every tissue, every cell in your body, especially your brain, knows when you're not meeting your needs. And your body will give hell if you neglect your needs. Everyone who's been really hungry at least once knows this. So… You need to travel. Otherwise, staying happy and motivated will get harder and, believe it or not, eventually you're going to feel like shit, physically.
So in a nutshell: you need to dream, you have the right to travel and only you can choose if you do.
All of which can be mashed into a single word: permission. It's unconditional permission to dream and travel, however much you want. Solo? With a partner? To a war-zone or an all-inclusive beach resort? For a week, a year or a lifetime? It's your choice. You have permission.
Sadly, the world we live in doesn't naturally encourage your autonomy around travel, so you will need practice it yourself. Therefore every time you dream about going somewhere, say this to yourself: “Well, I'm allowed to go there, and I stay there for as long as I want.” Even if it sounds ridiculous, unrealistic or scary, you say it.
And remember, permission works both ways - you do not have to go anywhere you don't want to go.
Picture a school kid on a field trip bored to death against teacher's best efforts. Well, if you're still reading this article, that's most likely you right now.
- You do not have to do anything you don't like, don't want, or aren't in the mood for. No matter who is pushing it, who says it can't be missed, or if Lonely Planet lists it as a “must-see”. You do not have to.
- You don't have to have a ton of savings, or take a loan, or max out your credit card to see the world. (which is something I'll tackle in one of the upcoming articles).
- You do not have to come back, if you don't feel like it. You don't have to worry what others think or whether you'll be alright and, in fact, you shouldn't. Because deep in your heart we both know you will.
- You are responsible for yourself, and your dreams. You are allowed to do only what feels right, in amounts that feel right.
So every time your dreams about faraway lands get a good kick in the guts, remember to say this to yourself - “I'm allowed to travel, and I can do this as much (or as little) as I want.”
Say it like you'd be reciting the last line of a poem, knowing you're just about to nail it on a National Recitation Contest. Even if it feels stupid and pointless, you do it every time you dream, and you do it over and over. Why? Because it's true.
Now put it in your own words. Stick it up somewhere and memorize it. Put it on your desktop, write in on a post-it or tattoo it on your wrist. Doesn't matter.
And then say it, either out loud or in your head, but say it every time you dream - say it, as often as you can remember. And go.