The Big But: Excuses for Not Traveling

Photo by Phil Parsons

Photo by Phil Parsons

Some are bigger than others, though they come in all shapes and forms. We all have them. And they all stink. And why wouldn’t they?

Our buts are a masquerade for fear.

They are an excuse to keep us from what we want and where we’re headed. No matter their legitimacy, the buts that stifle our dreams don’t have to get in the way. Once we recognize the conjunction for what it is, we can begin to change the end of the sentence and write a personal history of which we are proud.

First, we need to address the major buts in this “I’d love to travel” game.

But I Can’t Afford It

Let’s go ahead and call this out for what it is: a conversation about priorities. If you want to travel and you haven’t just won the lottery, your lifestyle will certainly need to change. But hey, join the club – we made t-shirts. Cap the frivolity and make the distinction between your wants and needs as you save your pennies for a goal worth pursuing.

Once you are overseas and have secured the proper visa, there is no reason you can’t earn a bit of cash money while you’re exploring the new scenery. Whether you secure a position before you leave home – I know a great organization if you’re looking to teach… just saying – or do some job searching once you’ve settled in, opportunities abound for you to use your skills to enrich the lives of others.

Which is a nice segue into…

But What About My Career?

Life needn’t stop just because you’ve decided to travel. It wouldn’t if we wanted it to anyway.

Many big companies and organizations have positions around the world available and I reckon they are looking for those willing and able to pick up and move. The choice of location is more limited, but the experience will pay dividends over your entire career.

Honestly, who’s to say what chances will cross your path while you’re out exploring? The more people you get to know, the more likely you’ll find an opportunity to work, the more your travels become an asset to your future. Use your time abroad to boost your resume and be intentional about how you travel. Even if you’re not working, per se, learn a new language, volunteer, discover a passion you have and chase after it.

Travel with your future in mind and work toward a betterment of yourself. Your career will follow in those footsteps.

But Other Cultures Are Too Different

True, if you’re one of those homegrown people who are content to stay within county lines all your life, well, you probably won’t be reading this article in the first place. But if you have even a hint of curiosity, then start now by coming to terms with the vastness of our world. The diversity of our cultures and ways of life is truly breathtaking. And can be overwhelming.

To that end, a little preparation goes a long way.

You don’t know the language? Learn some basic phrases. Enroll in a course. Talk with people who have been there and get a feel for what it will be like. Reassurance is a welcome friend.

Study up on some of the customs and practices of your intended destination and go in armed with a bit of knowledge about the world around you. The goal isn’t to know everything, but know enough to get by with a touch of grace and appreciation for your time in this foreign land. As best you can, hold reasonable expectations while noting that your choice to get on a plane means you won’t be in Kansas anymore.

So stop looking for Jayhawks.

But There’s No One To Go With Me

So?

The world is full of friends disguised as strangers. Granted, it’s a bit scary at first. Where else does courage come from but fear? I promise you will meet people along the way, just like you met your current friends at one time or another. They will become part of your story and will have an impact on what twists and turns your journey takes.

There is little better way to uncover who you really are than to venture forth on your own into the great unknown. Strip away all pretenses. Vow to speak and act and live authentically. Discover your talents and gifts. Join in the adventure. Welcome the blessing of friends.

But Life Is Too Busy

You’ve accumulated a lifetime’s worth of stuff and debt and commitments and it seems irresponsible, if not impossible, to set them all down in order to go swim off the coast of Greece. But no one said you have to leave your current life for a new one. Travel in bursts if you must. A week in Cabo here. A stint in Morocco there. Again, if travel is something you really want, make it a priority. You don’t even have to quit your job.

However, if you’re looking for a new life, then why not today and now? Plan ahead and simplify. Sell what you don’t need, then sell everything else. Get serious about paying off your debts. Rent out your house. See your commitments through and work towards living the life you want. Make the decision and stick to it.

Just don’t think it’ll all play out like you planned. Life always has tricks up her sleeve.

But I Missed My Chance

I should have gone when I was younger. I’m too old, too tired.

I have a family now. It’s not so easy to go to the store down the road, much less another country.

I have responsibilities with my work. I can’t just leave.

The world is not as inaccessible as we might think. It takes some willpower, maybe some creativity, but the Great Wall and the Northern Lights and the Pyramids are worth the effort. Fair enough, your circumstances may not be ideal. But you are stronger than you know. You have a determination which can rock the very foundations of the earth and whether it’s ticking off an item on your bucket list, or transplanting your family into another culture, you can make travel a reality.

The chance is still before you. The world still waits. Travel is possible.

But What Now?

Fear will always get the best of us when he can. Practicalities will get the best of us the rest of the time. What we’re talking about here surrounds the essence of our journey through life: Who are we? Where do we belong? What do we want? What is worthy of our sacrifice?

Once we make some decisions about those questions – even if it’s just a work in progress decision –no fears, no excuses will be enough to keep us from what we have our hearts set upon.

No but will be too big.

I cannot lie.

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