How many times have you dreamed of making a trip happen, done some quick googling, picked up brochures from your travel agent or torn pages from magazines, only to never have your dreams materialise into an amazing trip?
I know that it took me years to get around to taking my first big trip and now that I’ve moved cities, I’m finding it easier to let old excuses creep back in to my travel plans – or dreams.
Lots of people add places to their bucket list, which grows longer and longer while the years whiz by, without a single new destination.
Why? Because making your travel dreams turn into plans isn’t easy.
You have to squeeze in a trip between semesters at uni or ask your boss for time off – rarely a fun conversation.
You’re not sure who to travel with.
You’re overwhelmed by the possibilities and have no idea where to start– and everyone around you has a (conflicting) opinion.
Your year is filling up quicker than you can say “Save me!” and to be quite honest, you’re comfortable. Your life is on auto pilot. It’s easy to cycle through your week, working, eating and drinking out with friends and spending nights on the couch.
Making travel happen means stalking airline websites for the best airfares, for months. It means clicking that terrifying yet exhilerating “Confirm” button on airline tickets that cost an arm and a leg, and mean you’re locked in.
It means spending inordinate amounts of time on TripAdvisor deciding whether one reviewer was just a pain in the ass, or if the only reasonably-priced B&B does have rude staff, a dirty bathroom and has a serious noise problem.
The biggest headache is the budget. How much do you need for five weeks in Europe? Have you got enough? Should you book that tour sailing around Capri, or isn’t it worth it? (Hint: It’s worth it. Empty your online shopping cart and cancel your music festival plans (you’ll live)).
For most of us, travel means knocking a few zeroes off our shopping & entertainment budget, and then some. It sounds easy and so mature and so simple to spend less, but putting it into practice can be seriously not fun. Especially when you can’t afford that second glass of wine, or that coat or that cover charge.
For months, your eyes will dart between your bank balance and your trip budget, and you’ll start to panic.
“How the hell am I ever going to afford it?”
We know all of these things. These minor inconveniences sit in the back of our minds, and whisper quietly that we can’t do it. Just when we’re getting the nerve to book a trip anyway, they start to scream.
“I just don’t have time this year.”
“I don’t have money this year.”
“It’s just too hard this year.”
“Next year will be better…or better yet, the year after.”
Fear will tell you anything to stay within your comfort zone and to avoid growth. It will think of a million reasons why you can’t, and ignore any little voice that pipes up with reasons you can.
Deciding to go is the hardest part of making your travel dreams come true. Once you’re committed, you’re halfway there.
Once you get over that initial hurdle of deciding to go, a whole world of opportunities and solutions open up. Once you decide to go, the symphony of nay-sayers in your mind are silenced. Those opinions don’t matter anymore, because you’re not thinking of reasons you can’t. You’re too busy making plans for ways that you can.
You’re so buoyed with the excitement of the adventures on your horizon, that you have a newfound energy and creativity for solving any problems that come your way. Impossible train times in Italy lead to a stopover with just enough time to see the most beautiful sights of Milan. Expensive accommodation in Cinque Terre leads you to a beautiful, affordable seaside village down the road, where you see the most beautiful sunset of your life. Plans falling through in London leads to two extra nights in Paris.
Deciding to go is the first and the biggest step. Don’t say it unless you mean it, because not following through weakens the power of your words.
Dream it, declare it, design it and then discover what you’re capable of.
Finally, remember Nelson Mandela’s wise words, which he may or may not have intended to be repurposed as travel advice, “It always seems impossible until its done.