Will Peach is one of the site editors over at Gap Daemon, the gap year travel community website for backpackers and gap year travellers.
Giving up your job? Hard. Giving up your friends. Harder. Giving up your family? The hardest. Giving up a comfortable life for a permanent one of travel? Never going to be easy.
It’s amazing to think how we all almost never make it. The fear of not knowing what our luxury travel switzerland holds can sometimes be so big it can hold us back forever.
Having to fight this feeling myself, two months ago I left my cushy London life to start an epic around the world journey here in Spain. The decision? Certainly wasn’t easy. It took plenty of guts. It took plenty of tears.
But despite all that pain, now, looking back, it’s all been worth it.
The lessons I’ve learned? Invaluable. Those worries? You simply can’t let them stop you living the life of travel you want.
First Lesson Learned: Money Is No Obstacle, Nor Excuse
Worrying about money is the number one concern of any hopeful traveller. We’ve all heard stories of those who make it halfway around world only to run out of dough and skulk back home to their parents, family and friends.
You sure as hell don’t want to be that person. But then how do you make this long-term travel deal a part of life?
Back in those early days of planning I too couldn’t help but worry about money. Before I’d even left London the thought of it was crippling me. I’d worry about having a certain amount, having a decent enough cushion to fall back on just in case.
But in these last months what have I noticed? I’ve seen that if you fix long-term travel in your mind as your number one priority, there’s no reason you can’t make it happen. If you abandon all thoughts, all visions of coming home, you’re halfway there.
Money isn’t the obstacle you think it will be. Knowing that you have to go out and make it to sustain the lifestyle is motivation enough. Whether you do it through article writing, teaching, designing or manual labour (I’ve done it all!), you’ve always got something you can trade to get by.
If the thought of money is stopping you from hitting the road don’t let it. Head out first, worry about money later. Have faith in yourself that you’ll figure it out.
Second Lesson Learned: Meeting People Is Only Hard as You Make It
Abandoning your existing crop of good mates is never going to fill you with the most positive thoughts. Leaving London one of the worries I had was that I’d never have a stable bunch of friends again. Travel proved me wrong on that count!
Granted it might take you a while to get out of your shell but meeting people and making friends, while travelling or living abroad, is only as hard as you make it. It’s up to you to open your mouth and to introduce yourself. The only person you can blame for loneliness is yourself.
Remember that the simple act of asking has a power like no other. Treat every new person you meet as a potential new friend, treat every invitation as a potential new opportunity. Ask everyone you meet about their life, their dreams and their passion. People are people. We all live, dream and hope for a brighter future.
We’re all searching for deeper connections. Travel is a result of that.
Third Lesson Learned: It Pays To Integrate
It’s only when you lose everything, when you dive in outside of your comfort zone, that you can truly begin to appreciate what it all means.
Leaving my home was the big eye-opener for me. But only because I was willing to drop all my sensibilities, to fully immerse myself and jump in to a new culture.
A lot of travellers refuse to shake the stick that marks them. The label of nationality, the comforts of home, you’ve got to abandon them all. Only by mixing with locals and by living life on their terms can you hope to awaken what it truly is that you’re about.
If you’re travelling to find your passion you’ve got to forget yourself first.
On the subject of awakening that sense of self, you’ve also got to realise that no matter where you’re from you’ll always be a product of your own environment. The problems that surround you back home? They’re not going to leave you, no matter how far you run.
If you’ve got a family back home, friends, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, no matter how far you travel you’ll always find yourself thinking of them. Distance severs physicality but never mentality. Having been taught this from older travel experiences my new adventure is all the better for it.
As long as you come to expect these dark periods, the loneliness, the longing, the weakness, you’ll get through any challenge you might face. But if something is more serious, and calls for greater action, know that travel will only prolong the inevitable.
Fifth Lesson Learned: Mistakes Help You to Grow
Never fear failure. Never fear making a wrong step, taking a wrong turn or offending someone. Every time you do you learn, every mistake you make you move closer to becoming better.
Grow from the experience; seek solace knowing that next time round you’ll do things differently. Just like I’ll have to compose myself better, you will too. Especially the further we travel.
And remember: it’s bound to happen again. I’ll never be perfect. Neither will you.
Yet travel, at the very least, helps to remind us.
Hopefully some my lessons will rub off on you.