Before You Travel: The Big Decisions
Travelling is one of the most engaging and exciting things a person can do, at least in my opinion. But before you board your plane and set off on your next great adventure, a decision must be made: where the fuck are you going this time? As I’m sure you’re all aware, there are many kinds of traveller: the planner, the sheep and the go-with-the-flow type. I try to be the latter when on the road.
Unfortunately, at some point, one must bite the bullet and be decisive. Do you go to Europe? A classic and comforting choice, as many have done it before you and many will after, or have you already been there and done that, is it now time to conquer India alone or get lost with a shaman somewhere outside of Costa Rica? Who knows, but whether it’s your first time travelling or your tenth, the planner in me has three questions to ask you to help you make your choice – for the right reasons and with solid reasoning.
Firstly, where is it that your heart longs to go? I’m talking about that place you see a picture of and your mind instantly spirals into daydreams of how amazing it would be if you were there right now. The harsh truth is that we only have so much time on this planet and you shouldn’t waste it making the safe choice if you want to take the plunge. You also shouldn’t regret taking the risk when all you really wanted to do was have a calm and scenic holiday. Travel is about your own burning desire to be and see somewhere else and you shouldn’t let anyone else affect that. Travel for travel’s sake can be fun and wondrous, but it will eventually run its course. But travel with purpose and intent will fulfil you in ways you never thought possible, and will awaken a curiosity and hunger that will only serve to make you want to travel more. When choosing your next setting, one of the most important things to consider is what your heart is saying, and then, you need to try to make it happen.
Secondly, why exactly do you think your heart is aching to go there? Travel is sometimes a tool people use to escape the world, which isn’t exactly a bad thing, but it’s also not always the best thing either. If you’re flying halfway across the world just to sit on a beautiful crystalline beach in Santorini to cry about George the barista who was the best sex of your entire life, but also a cheating liar, you’re missing out on a lot, including the point. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use travel as an escape, but instead of running from reality, make travel a part of your reality. Forget everything and focus on what’s in front of you all the time, even when you’re working your nine-to-five office job, because that way, when you go somewhere, you’ll properly experience it. When you come back, you won’t be saying how good it was to have some time away, but now it’s all better and you’re ready to come back to the “real world”. Instead, travel will become a part of your “real world” and you’ll come back with fantastic tales of discovery and will already be thinking about where to go next. Choose your next destination because it inspires you and ignites your passion, not because it’s the furthest place from your first-world problems.
Lastly, can you afford it? I’m the first one to preach shoestring travel ending with a shit-eating grin because you barely spent anything yet somehow managed to see and do mostly everything you set out to. Yet there is an emphasis on that mostly. Assess yourself and your limitations and think carefully about your dream destination and how much of a hole it’ll burn in your wallet just for what you consider the basic necessities. I spent some time on other people’s couches, eating food I most certainly did not purchase and that’s fine, I had fun, but will you? Will it be fun not getting to see a play on the West-End because it’s Hamlet or homelessness? Will you be satisfied or will you be disappointed? There’s no shame in having a little cushion for the pushin’ when it comes to your bank account – I certainly could have used some. Once you’ve got your perfect paradise in mind, make sure you have enough money to actually enjoy being there.
Now maybe you’re reading this and thinking I’m taking all the joy away. Maybe I’m killing it with structure and analysis instead of being free and spontaneous. Nevertheless, my travel dreams came to life in front of me. Will yours? Or will they die outside of your cheap hostel room in Rotterdam because you ran out of cash before you made it to Amsterdam, which you never wanted to go to anyway but everyone else does so you “had to” and at least you would’ve been able to smoke away memories of your ex. Sounds like fun.