A number of you are planning to travel the world one day, which won’t happen unless you can overcome these 7 obstacles. Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6 of this series.
The single biggest obstacle to traveling the world you’ll face is yourself. It’s also the most difficult of the 7 obstacles to overcome and the hardest to recognize. Saying you’re going to travel the world, just not now, but in a few years is a big sign you may never go. Even if you go through and overcome all of the other 6 external obstacles like leaving your day job (Part 1) and preparing financially (Part 2) you’ve got to contend with all of the elements of each obstacle at once.
Fear, anxiety, comfort in your routine, all combine and instead of dealing with the cause of all of the obstacles you’ll do the easiest thing – procrastinate and make excuses.
It’s easy to say you’re going to do something or that you really want to or that other people traveling the world are just very lucky. Don’t get stuck years later by saying “I wish I were them” or “I wish I had traveled the world” because you may never get the chance to reflect. Life is unpredictable so take the opportunity and quash this obstacle that sits inside of you – by discovering it, uncovering it, and overcoming your excuses.
Fear Is Like A Ninja
We mostly think of fear as something out of a horror movie – panic, yelling, and lots of running down dark corridors (well maybe not the last one). Fear about traveling, which encompasses worrying about what your family will think and if you can afford it, hides itself in your subconscious, subtly manipulating your actions.
How Can You Recognize Fear?
Here are some of the warning signs:
- Procrastination. It’s important to have a good plan, discuss it with your loved ones, and start to break the routines that hold you back. Spending too much time in any of those stages though is bound to put your trip in jeopardy. Don’t over-complicate things. Set up the basic framework for what you want to do and move on to checking items off your list.
- Only partially overcoming some of the obstacles. A trap that many fall into. You sell a few of your CDs, casually bring up your dream to travel the world with friends (although you don’t have any sort of plan), and mentally leave your job. Overcoming the obstacles to traveling the world half-assed can make your current situation more difficult while not getting you any closer to actually traveling the world.
- The phrase “I would now but…” Except for extreme circumstances this is just fear talking. I’d ask you, “so what?” and you should ask yourself the same thing. Run your excuses by a friend or one of the travel many people traveling the world for a reality check.
Fighting Cognitive Dissonance
In psychology, cognitive dissonance is what happens when you hold two conflicting beliefs or ideas. Take wanting to travel the world and having the comfort of your regular life. Your heart wants to travel the world but fear of many things has you holding on to the norm.
Cognitive dissonance is resolved in one of two ways. Either by dropping one of the beliefs or rationalizing both of them. Putting off your trip and all the excuses that come with it is the result of rationalization. You can resolve you own cognitive dissonance by narrowing down the fears you have and replacing each one in your travel plans.
- For example I’m a creature of habit. I need my routines to function and feel at ease. So no matter where I go I make sure that I have a few routines in place to keep me balanced. They’re simple things – a big breakfast or coffee in the morning, a run and workout, and maybe a mini-goal like a beer at a pub that looks interesting later in the day.
At all costs don’t rationalize. You have to solve your cognitive dissonance by dropping one belief or the other. There’s no way around it so ask yourself, “what are you really afraid of?”
It’s All About You
Realize that in the end the only thing stopping you is…you. Ultimately that’s what is a scary thought for everyone – that the success (or failure) of a trip or traveling around the world is your responsibility. It can also be your triumph, it all depends on what you end up doing. As Benjamin Button say at the end of the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.
What ever you end up doing, don’t have any regrets. Can you say you won’t have regrets if you don’t travel the world?
Next Thursday I’ll have a follow up on the entire series of overcoming obstacles to traveling the world. I hope that you’ll share some of your thoughts and experiences overcoming them in the comments below.
great points made here. when i tell my friends i am going travelling there is inevitably the ‘i’d love to but’ usually i’ve no money excuse.
Overcoming these fears can be a big leap for a lot of people. But the alternative of not travelling and seeing the world is a lot more painful.
Thanks Kevin. I always try to look at it with the (admittedly morbid) view of, “if i were to die tomorrow, or next week, or in a month” to put it all into perspective. The thing is that we just don’t know what’s going to happen and it’s a shame to let external things (like money) overcome us.
As cheesy as it sounds it’s all about where and how you focus your energies and putting in all of the hard work that goes along with it.
Great article! Love the ending: ‘It’s all about you’ with the referral to Benjamin Button.
I’m always so late with movies but I somehow got to watch Benjamin Button last week and it hasn’t even been out for 10 years! I found that quote at the end of the movie particularly touching, especially ‘there are no rules to this thing’.
Knowing that you can do anything is both liberating and scary which makes overcoming the obstacles inside of us so difficult.
I loved this article, it is soo true. Love the quote too, by the way!
Thanks! It was a good movie 🙂
Agreed – it is all about you. Travel isn’t for everyone, and if you hate traveling, definitely don’t put your life on hold because you think it’s the cool thing to do. But, if travel is something that you want to do — something you dream about and envy when other people do it — then fear should not stop you.
You’re right Akila traveling isn’t for everyone. I think it’s a question to ask, ‘is this something I really want to do?’ If the answer is yes, then it’s just a matter of doing it!
Honestly, I’m hooked to your blog now after this post of yours. What you mentioned about “procrastination” is so true and that really had an impact on me and my life. Keep up the good work and looking forward to more quality articles from you 🙂
Btw, I quoted you in my posting and I hope you don’t mind – http://balineseindonesia.blogspot.com/2009/08/missing-bali.html
Thanks Anastasia! I’m glad my post was so timely and hopefully it helps encourage you to break the hold of procrastination.
Hopefully and I’m really trying to stop myself from further procrastinations 🙂
Very well said. I’ve encountered people with this excuse countless times. It’s so easy to say you want to travel… later, but only the really dedicated people actually put their plans into action. It’s part of why I created my website: to encourage people that there really is no better time than now.
It’s hardly ever easy, but it’s the only way to live your life on your terms.
You’re absolutely right – it is work! People often only see or hear ‘long term traveler’ and thing it’s something for the privileged or lucky. While we’re lucky to have certain opportunities there’s a lot of work that goes along with it.
Now is the only thing that’s guaranteed – all of life is so temporary. There’s never a better time to fulfill your dreams.
I loved the post, you have researched a lot, especially the way you tied in cognitive dissonance theory which I think is the biggest obstacle for me too (and its applicable everywhere, isn’t it?).
Traveling the world seems to be an mammoth task like you mentioned earlier in the series, but the main issue is not about literally traveling the world – its the question of getting out of your comfort zone. Something that even I found hard to do until I did it a bit and got hooked. 🙂
Cognitive dissonance is everywhere when you think about it and it’s funny that there are only two ways out of it.
You’re absolutely right, the hardest thing to do is leave your comfort zone. In many ways traveling the world is about finding out what your comfort zone is.
When I was preparing to backpack around the world solo for 6 months, almost everyone I told asked, “Aren’t you afraid?” I just don’t understand why people in the U.S. are so fearful of travel. Of course, you have to travel smart – don’t wear jewelry or flash a lot of cash – but my motto, which has served me well, is that people are people, no matter where in the world they are. And most are good, hardworking folks, who would be happy to help you if need be. I’ve been traveling for 40 years and have only had one bad incident – and that was at home in the U.S.!
I’ve thought a lot about that and I think there are many factors why Americans don’t travel as citizens of other industrialized nations. I suppose if you don’t travel from an early age, have a large and varied country yourself that draws lots of tourists that might contribute to it. I’m not quite sure where the fear comes from though. It’s really not scary “out there”. The best way to find out is to go see it yourself 🙂
Your blog is a great example of that!
Hi, I absolutely love your series! I stumbled across them and have been reading them. I have them all printed out and ready to read when I’m thinking or trying to plan for my travelling trip 🙂
I’m the worst procrastinator imaginable. Sure, when I’m at work I’m dreaming of travelling and at lunch I’m plotting and planning ideas for my trip but despite having many hours every week to plan nothing gets done at all. In fact, whilst I sit here in retrospect all I’ve done in 2 months is plot lines on a map and make a basic travel budget. Hopefully I’ll have it finished in 5 years time, although the deadline I have set myself is next year.
Really good series, really helped me out and now I must sort myself out, which is the hard part.
Thank you very much. Best of luck with your plans – please do keep in touch, I’d really like to hear more as they develop.
I am actually fascinated with the writing skills along with with the layout on your website. Is it a paid design or have you colorize it for you by yourself? No matter what keep up the wonderful excellent writing, it’s actually rare to see a nice blog site just like this these days..
The design was paid but I’ve seen many quite a few modifications to the original design. And thank you for the kind words about the site and my writing as well, I appreciate it.