Travel does something truly fantastic for man – it teaches him more about himself. Travel has done just that for me.
To catch you up, I left it all behind last summer to travel, full-time, around the world.
Sounds like a fantastic dream, right? It was! And it is! But after spending some solo time on the road, my dream has changed shape.
That is one of the fantastic things about dreams…they belong to YOU and no one else! And they can take any shape you choose.
I’m not giving up on my dream – just the opposite! I feel more invigorated than ever to feed my wanderlust and see new places. However, I learned that I need to live my dream in a different way. In several different ways, actually…
I’m a traveler. I’m a wanderluster. I’m an explorer. I’m an adventurer.
I always will be.
But instead of doing it full-time, being away from my home and loved ones for months at a time on a backpacker’s budget, I’ll be doing it part-time from now on.
There are many reasons I’m making this change, but the simple fact is, I made some mistakes on the first leg of my trip that made traveling less enjoyable for me. Travel should be NOTHING if not enjoyable and fulfilling.
Here’s what I learned:
1.) I need to travel lighter.
Oh man, do I!
This is the lesson that guts me the most. It guts me because — in true female fashion — this is the thing I spent the most time thinking about before I left on my trip. I thought I was so ready for this!
What am I going to pack?
What luggage should I take?
How many pairs of shoes do I need?
Is it ridiculous to take an eyeshadow palette? Just ONE? (Answer: Yes. Yes, it is.)
These questions swirled in my head for MONTHS before my trip, and then all of my hopes and dreams were crushed when I realized how little I could actually fit in my backpack and small rolling carry-on suitcase. (Yes, I brought a rolling suitcase. Mistake #83724827094).
Still, I persevered. I spent hours cramming every last item that I possibly could into my packs, and left Phoenix feeling triumphant and ready for any fashion situation I might encounter on the road.
I didn’t encounter any fashion situations on the road because the road literally doesn’t give a shit what you wear. The road was LUCKY if I bothered to put on mascara and a clean tank top.
When you spend hours cramming a suitcase at home, you also have to spend hours cramming a suitcase every time you leave a destination. In my case, this was every few days.
As much fun as I had being the laughing stock of Costa Rica when I had to wheel my rolling suitcase down a rocky river embankment to get to a transporter boat, while trying to keep my balance and not fall over from the weight of my backpack…I think next time I’ll just pack less.
Like, a lot less.
Like, I basically wore the same tank top for the last six days of my trip, so I’ll probably just pack that and some mascara. Maybe some cute undies just to spice things up.
2.) I need to travel with a bigger budget.
I know there are a million budget travelers out there who will refute this one…but hear me out. I 100% believe that one can travel on an ultra-tight budget and still see and experience many things that a country or region has to offer.
That said, I quickly learned that that’s not the way I personally would like to travel. Can I survive for nights on end sleeping in hostel dorms, eating street food, and only indulging in free activities? Can I survive long public bus rides with multiple connections, and skipping cocktails to save cash? Absolutely. I can survive all these things. And I had PLANNED to. But the most important thing I learned is that that style of travel is less enjoyable for me.
I’d like to sleep in beds that I’m not sharing with bugs or geckos. I’d like to go to sleep without listening to five different guys snoring in symphony in the dorm all around me. I’d like to have dinner at that snazzy, tiki torch-lit restaurant on the beach. I’d like to take a guided kayak tour through the rainforest rivers…I’d like to skydive and zipline and go horseback riding.
There isn’t a single thing wrong with budget traveling, and I think for many people, it’s a fantastic option! But I got to know myself better than ever before while traveling and learned it’s not the way I’d like to go.
Bottom line: I’d rather travel part-time with more cash, than full-time with less cash.
3.) I need to travel with no unanswered questions.
If you’ve been reading along for a while, you may remember my post “Why I’m Leaving it All Behind to Travel the World.”
One of the key points in that post: I was heartbroken. I had been hurt to the point that I thought I may be beyond recovery, and my solution was to run off into the sunset…by myself.
So what happens when you meet someone who changes everything one month before you leave to travel the world?
Great question! It’s one I dealt with constantly on the road.
Just before I left home for Costa Rica, someone came into my life that I didn’t expect. He said hello to me at a Christmas party and quite suddenly my world flipped upside down.
Less than a month after the first night we met, I found myself leaving him way too soon. We had barely begun to get to know each other before I was kissing him goodbye and telling him that I would see him in four months.
His name echoed in my thoughts throughout the entire plane ride to Costa Rica, and we spoke every day that I was gone. He was my support system when I had rough days, my kick-you-in-the-ass pep-talker when I needed encouragement, and my enthusiastic audience when I shared stories of my adventures.
But like I said, travel teaches you A LOT about yourself very quickly. I learned that travel is one of the things I’m most passionate about…which means it’s also one of the things I’d love to share with someone else. I also learned that I love a good mystery. I didn’t know where this thing was headed, but I knew that the super sleuth in me wanted to find out. The clues were at home in Phoenix, so that’s where I went.
So, what’s next?
Now, I’ve been home for a little while and I’ve truly never been happier. I have a job I truly enjoy that will support my travel habit, my own apartment to set up camp in when I’m not on the road, and a man with a case of wanderlust of his own.
I’ll be using my weekends, holidays, and vacation days to continue the amazing adventures I’ve had this year…but this time, with a little more cash, and a lot more love.
And, really, love is just another grand adventure…
Do you think you could handle a life of full-time travel? Would you want to? Let me know in the comments below!