Lisa Lansing

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Travel or your life is wasted.

The other day I happened upon a Cracked article titled “Five Stupid Pieces Of Advice That People Need To Stop Sharing.” (I know, I probably should spend my time elsewhere, but sometimes I can’t help myself as I scroll through Facebook.) I thought it was satire at first, but I’m pretty sure the author just happens to be a bitter self-loathing jerk.

According to Mark Hill, one of the stupid pieces of advice people share is that we should travel. Travel or your life is wasted!

He thinks this is a stupid piece of advice because not everyone can pick up and travel. Some of us need to work to pay bills.

“Don’t worry about the money” is not something people who have actually had to worry about money say. Yes, you can travel on a shoestring budget. But you can’t “just make it work” if taking two weeks off of your job to hitchhike across Peru means you don’t make enough money that month to pay your bills.

Mark isn’t the only one who feels this way. So many people whine and moan that they can’t travel because they need to pay bills. If you are like one of these people, I’m tired of hearing it! Those bills are your choice. You choose to buy stuff you don’t need. You choose those things over a life of simplicity. You choose a lifestyle you can’t afford, so you feel like you absolutely must work in order to survive.

Or maybe traveling just isn’t a priority for you. If it was, you’d find ways to eliminate or reduce your expenses, streamline your life, and make it happen. You’d sell all the unnecessary stuff you have in order to pay off your debts. You’d cancel your Netflix subscription and gym memberships. You’d quit drinking alcohol and Starbucks. You’d stop spending needlessly in order to save money.

Mark mentions traveling on a shoestring budget but dismisses it as a real possibility for most of us. Most people, like Mark, assume only the wealthy can afford to travel. This is a myth! You don’t have to break the bank and stay in luxury hotels to see the world. Plan a trip well in advance. Calculate a budget of your expenses. Stay in hostels or find rooms for rent. Cook your own meals while traveling (or simply eat fruit) instead of eating out. Depending where you want to visit, you can even volunteer a few hours of your time each day in exchange for room and board.

So, by all means, tell people about what a great time you had on your trip. But don’t share condescending images and articles on how to quit your job and travel the world and truly live, because if it was that easy to magically remove all responsibilities from your life, a lot more people would have already figured out how to do it.

This may be hard to believe, but it is easy to magically remove all responsibilities from your life. People have figured it out, but not everyone is willing to do something about it. People are too comfortable in their routine to take a risk and possibly fail. You have to put yourself out there.

You have to make a choice. What is more important to you? Do you want to have a house full of stuff and a secure job? Or do you want to travel the world? You have to choose which one matters to you most. You can’t have both unless you are made of money.

The point is, if you truly want to do something, make it a priority, stop spending money on stuff you don’t need, and adjust your budget and life to reflect this. Actually do everything in your power to succeed. Don’t just sit around making excuses!

I just get tired of people hating on other people traveling. If you are someone like Mark, instead of being bitter or jealous about the lives of others, perhaps you should examine your own life. Why are you bitter or jealous? Do you wish you could travel? If so, are you taking any steps to make this happen? Are you annoyed because you realise you’re stuck in the same routine?

Expand your horizons.

Nomadic minimalist travel isn’t for everyone. We don’t all need to quit our jobs and travel the world with a backpack. Some people don’t want to travel, and that’s fine too. There’s nothing bad about experiences at home, as these are also sources of learning and happiness, but there’s definitely something worthwhile about living in a foreign country for some time.

I think most people could benefit from pushing themselves outside their comfort zone. And I’m not talking about typical holiday travel, either. I mean REAL travel where you immerse yourself in other cultures, you eat the food and speak the language, you don’t just live in hotels or resorts. You learn that there are 7.4 billion other ways of looking at the world, and that your view is only one of them.

This type of travel changes you. It can make you more independent, less reliant on all the stuff you have at home (all the stuff that you thought you needed), and helps you appreciate where you come from. Honestly, if experiencing other cultures doesn’t change your perspective on the world at least a little bit, there must be something wrong with you!

Quitting my job and traveling full-time was the best decision I ever made. I’ve learned so much from breaking out of my routine in the States. Now I work on my own schedule, my life is incredibly uncomplicated, and I have time to enjoy the simple things in life. When I realised traveling the world was my top priority, I made the choice to completely change my life to make this my reality.

Now I’m more confident in myself that I can and will achieve anything I set my mind to, I’m more relaxed as I’ve eliminated all the unnecessary stress from my life (namely unnecessary bills and expenses for things I don’t need), and I’m more cultured in the sense that I know what it’s like to live in a different part of the world. Moving abroad on my own and starting over in a completely new place taught me so much about myself and what I really need and want in my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not taken the risk to leave it all behind.

Travel may not be your priority. Maybe your priority is making money to buy stuff to fill your house, I don’t know! But if you do want to travel, DO IT. Stop hating on others and quit making excuses.

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