Before I left for longterm world travel, I couldn’t imagine how it was possible. I was a 31-year-old struggling to pay off graduate school with a full-time job that paid me very little, and three part-time jobs just to pay for the fuel to get back and forth from said poor-paying full-time job. Every year, Christmas would come around before I could pay off last Christmas. Travel didn’t fit anywhere into my life schedule or budget; coordinating coverage for all four of my jobs made it grueling to take even a day or two off. I would say, “It’s easier for me to just work.”
Now, a year into full-time travel and residing in Digital Nomad Land, I can look back and see the fear-based excuses and delays I had wholeheartedly believed in. One year ago, they weren’t just fear-based excuses and delays: they were my realities. My error was believing that I could never change my life’s rhythm, pace, work flow or income.
If you turn to page 47 in my journal, you can see that I collected the phrases and thoughts that I heard myself say back then. Since then, I have heard the same phrases - and some other ones I recorded - coming from the mouths of others.
“I am too busy.”
I used to say this a lot. I lived off of caffeine infusions; I darted through annoying traffic because I was somehow always running 5 to 10 minutes late; I over-scheduled myself and then felt exasperated by the schedule that I set for myself.
But it was my fault. I allowed myself to be “too busy” and I permitted the continued abuse of my time and energy by employers by not setting boundaries that work for me. I committed these crimes of self in many different ways: I said “yes” to too many people and commitments because I was afraid to say “no.” I was bullied into taking on responsibilities or tasks that came packaged as, “We can trust you. We know you can handle this.” I was guilted into events or meet ups because I felt I owed somebody something. I allowed people to hang things over my head, and I allowed them to steal from me my hard-earned time, energy, vacation, funds, and emotions.
One day, I sat at my desk and felt nothing but rage.
One day, I sat across from a friend and behind a cup of coffee and couldn’t figure out why I was there.
My busyness, my hurriedness was my problem. I tried, for years, to blame other people or justify it in my own mind. Work needs me. I’m the only one who can do this. I like things done my way, so I’ll do it. They don’t have anyone else. I’m just doing this, this one time. I need the money. I owe them a favor. If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. If I put up with it now, it will lead to better things in the future.
As strong as cheerleaders at a pep rally, these words and their sing-song influence achieved their goal of convincing me to continue hurrying. When fun opportunities showed up - the kind of opportunities that peeked my interest and sparked my excitement - I found myself saying, “I am too busy.” Then I would walk away disappointed in myself.
“I just can’t get away.”
I feel you. I once had four jobs with different, unnecessarily complicated processes for requesting, tracking and approving time off. Those processes were so ridiculous and so tiring that I chose to do nothing. I rarely took my vacations, went to work sick, and never even looked at my “earned time off.”
Not to mention, there is always something coming up next: an event, a fundraiser, a show, a workshop, a conference, a house closing. It is hard to cut off the flow of “nexts” and it does feel like you just cannot get away.
But, again, that’s a lie. You you can get away if you say you are going away.
“I’m on a short leash.”
This is a tough one. It suggests someone you’re closely tied to doesn’t want to travel, and it’s understandable that you want to be there for your family members. To take the power away from this phrase, it would require making a family commitment to travel and then planning for it. Making a family commitment to get away, to spend uninterrupted time together is something you’ll never regret.
Getting on the same page with your significant other about travel can be challenging. Shoot, Ryan and I were not on the same page about it for over a year! But if traveling, especially long-term traveling is in your heart somewhere, start having the conversations. That’s the first step in planning.
“I don’t want to give up everything.”
I didn’t want to either. I feared that everything I had built wouldn’t travel with me. One day, a woman said to me, “You are assuming that your skills, talents and who you are is land based and hyperlocal. Start thinking of yourself as global.” For months, I woke up every morning and as I poured my coffee, I told myself, “You are global. Your talent is global. Your skills are global.” What I ended up “giving up” was my belief that I needed an employer to survive; that I would die if my bank account hit zero; that I am only “legitimate” if I’m an employee, with health insurance and a permanent address.
“I promise I’ll travel one day.”
We hear this one often, and it’s hard not to cringe. One day, when the kids are grown. One day, when I’ve saved enough money. One day, when the world is safer. One day, when my injury feels better. One day, when I’m tired.
We understand that there are seasons to life: times to be spontaneous and whimsical and times to be stable and hibernating. Knowing what season you’re in is an important component of living your best life. But living in only one season? Missing opportunity after opportunity assuming one will appear one day? We only have a certain number of one days, and if travel tickles at your heart rejecting that tickle by telling it “one day” is shushing and breaking a promise to your inner excitement and joy.
“It’s just too expensive.”
If we’re being honest with ourselves, most things in life are expensive. Braces for your kids, groceries, Target runs, even a happy hour where you’re being convinced of “deals.” Everything adds up and everything is expensive. We decide what expenses are acceptable. We decide. That means you can choose to stop the daily coffee, the gym membership you rarely use, the subscription services that serve you… not at all. Take a careful look at where your money is going and make choices that include travel. I once stopped spending at Starbucks, and I had saved $200 in a few months.
“I have to work”
This is what I call an onion statement: there are a lot of layers here. First layer: Yes, everyone has to work at some point in their lives. They do not, however, have to work every day or work at a pace that is unhealthy for 50 years. Second layer: You have to make money, yes. But you don’t have to make money every day or make money in only the ways that are provided to or spelled out for you. There are many ways to make money seasonally or occasionally and then live off what you have. Third layer: You would have to try to trust that. This is the hardest layer and it’s the one I struggled most with. I didn’t trust myself to work for myself or even trust myself to be able to save and live on a lower expenses. I thought I needed so much. Fourth layer: You would have to be willing to try.
“I have the kids.”
Yes. They have school, and classes, and community and all of those are important, but don’t feel they “hold you back.” We have met many full-time traveling families who homeschool or take a year off here and there to travel. Traveling with children changes the rules, environment and circumstances you’re living within. Your children get to see other sides of you that they’ve never experienced before, and you’ll see your children grows in ways you never imagined.
I don’t want this post to come off as an oversimplification or lecture.
Remember, I was you. Some of these excuses, I used! Then, I met women who were battling cancer who go out sailing when they’re in remission. I met families who take their children out of school for a year to travel the world. I met people who left 9-to-5 gigs they hated in order to transition their work into seasonal or online work.
There are very valid reasons for deciding to hold off on travel or wait for a better season in your life. But if you find yourself always wanting to travel and never being able to, know that you have the power: not the excuses. You can make the changes necessary to add travel into your life! Your choices yield your results. Now is the time to start planting the seeds for the results you want.
At Seas Life, we offer donation-based consulting on life changes to make your dreams happen. We’re here when you’re ready to integrate travel into your lifestyle. Our motto - and our boat name is - Seas Life for a reason: We believe in making less room for excuses and more room for magic.