How To Get From Your Desk To All The Places You Want To Travel

October 14, 2011 by Anil Polat  

a boat on the trave river germany

Sometimes the distance from your office desk to a place you’ve been dreaming about, like Spain, can seem further than the moon. Sure, you want to go places but how do you actually get from that desk you’re reading this from to those far-flung destinations? It’s easier than you think and it’s not your wallet, family, or job that’s stopping you.

lubeck street germanyNarrow Down To Get Out Of Town

The hardest part psychologically of any task is getting started; yet ironically, that’s exactly the best way to combat procrastination. Sounds quite easy but you’ll need to create short, artificial deadlines to get yourself moving. When it comes to travel, these are the first fun steps to overcoming your mental obstacles.

  • Where do you want to go? Everywhere isn’t an acceptable answer, even I had to define that for myself.
  • Make memorable lists. The average human short term memory can only hold 5-9 items at a time and we tend to chunk items into groups of 2 or 3. A short travel list (and short lists in general) help you stay focused and let you visualize your traveling goals – a tactic that greatly improves your problem solving skills according to Penn State University [PDF]. Pick 3-5 countries or cities and we’re on to the next phase.
  • Your death is not an appropriate deadline. Pick a better time frame than some vague concept of a “bucket list” and then shorten it by 25%. Much like backpacks, our plans tend to fill all of the time allotted for them.
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You now know roughly where you want with have a timeline for when – putting you about 90% closer to actually hopping on that bus, plane, or train. To increase your chances of success further, tell your friends the specifics you’ve come up with. Peer pressure is a powerful motivator for a social species like ours and using you can share your goals and progress with friends online.

beer in rhodes greeceStop Convincing Yourself You Don’t Have Enough Money

Our brains are frightfully biased and we tend to only see the information that confirms we’re right. Think you don’t have enough money to travel? You’ll probably convince yourself just that while smoking a cigarette before heading to the mall to buy a new pair of shoes you don’t need. Two tactics from above will help us get over that monetary hurdle – getting some actual costs and chunking the total into short goals you check off along the way.

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Traveling isn’t nearly as expensive as you may think it is. Try flying in the off-season, staying in a hostel, and ditching these 7 things for boosted savings.

Wait, I’ve Got A Job!

Well, good for you! Jobs typically pay us in stuff called “money” which can be exchanged for cool things like flying in hot air balloons. Having a job generally helps you travel due to disposable income it can provide you with. That said, it might be a good time to ditch that job altogether with a career break you can put on your resume to get a better job when you return. Those of you in the United States can get personal peer pressure (the good kind) with the Meet Plan Go! events happening across the country on October 18th.

Only You Can Do What’s Due

Digital assistants like Remember The Milk can keep you focused and get you traveling by tracking your planning-saving-traveling process but only you can put those tools to use. National Geographic’s travel photos of the day can keep you inspired on those long days at the office before a trip and Boss Key can make you seem more productive than you really are.

Just don’t slack on yourself or the future. Traveling is enlightening. And nobody returns regretting having seen the world.

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  1. Nicely put Anil,

    I’d say the big one every time for me is money and yet I always over come it in the end. It’s always a calculation of ok so somehow I have to live of X per day, how the hell am I going to do that? I usually fall back on the tried and tested ‘worry about it when I get there’ internal debate. It’s amazing how resourceful you can be when you’re miles away from home and with only cobwebs for pockets!

    Have a great weekend

    • Anil P. says:

      Money is a funny thing as we never have enough for our plans but often the right amount for spontaneous decisions. Though like you say, tight pockets are often a wonderful motivator for creative solutions 😉

  2. Sherry Ott says:

    some excellent advice! I love your comment about death is not an appropriate deadline! I so wish you were in the states when we are holding Meet Plan Go events – I would love to have you speak at them. Do let me know when you are next in the states though as we are holding more local monthly meetups now too that maybe I can rope you into! 🙂

    • Anil P. says:

      It’s why I don’t like the term “bucket list”. I mean, what can you plan to do after you’re dead?? 😀

      I would be honored to speak at a Meet Plan Go event; I’ll be in and out of the US a few times this summer between June and August so hopefully I can attend some around then 🙂

  3. Kerry says:

    Or you can actually quit your job and start out on your own. That’s what I did. 2 weeks a year wasn’t enough for me anyway, and I don’t have to count how many ‘holiday days’ I have left any more. Plus I am way less stressed, and enjoy what I do and can take my work with me on a laptop.

    I must admit I did sit and make excuses for 6 months before I did it though! But the freedom to work on what I want and travel when I want (within my budget limits!) is much better and I am much happier. I think we are conditioned to be ‘responsible’ aka get a job, buy a car, by a house, and then settle down, but that’s not for everyone.

  4. My suggestion is save up a little extra moolah before going anywhere. Of course, just the experience of traveling is worth while regardless of budget, but what good is going to Italy if you only have the money to eat ramen noodles and crackers? One way to start saving big bucks fast is pay everything with cash. This will start producing lots of change, stock pile that change and only spend your bills and you will have some serious bucks saved up in no time. If you have an account with TD Bank (which is free) they have something called a penny arcade that will count all your spare change and print you out a receipt that you can cash at the teller with no service charge.

    • Anil P. says:

      I agree – and I don’t think debt is a way to go either. Typically, if you’re not worried about feeding yourself or struggling to pay rent, you’ll have *some* left over money after expenses. That’s the start you need and from there any place is possible.

      Great tip about TD Bank btw.

  5. Jillian says:

    I really enjoyed this article! I think it is really helpful for those people that have the syndrome, “I want to travel but I can’t because of XYZ.” I will definitely be passing this on to people in my life. Thanks!

  6. I HATE it when people say “how can you afford to travel, its so expensive”. Well yea it is if you live like you are currently living! Stop buying that cappuccino and filled roll from the bakery every day and you quickly save your pennies.

    • Anil P. says:

      The problem often starts earlier; most people track their bills but not their disposable income so they don’t realize how much they dispose of to things not travel.

  7. Hey Anil, glad to come across your blog. I definitely love this article. Well, what stop some people from traveling are the excuses they make.