“Saying ‘author’ or ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘blogger’ leaves out much of the subtlety behind what I do. Saying ‘I travel,’ I’ve learned, is a great way to sound like someone who’s inherited a small fortune, leading discussion toward topics I have little taste for, like croquet, polo, and yachting.
It’s far easier to answer the near-inevitable follow-up question: why? Why do you do what you do?
My answer: because I can’t not.” — Colin Wright, “I Can’t Not”
I encountered this a lot during my near-year of near-fulltime traveling. Because as Colin states in his newsletter, Americans are so apt to ask “What do you do for a living?”
Many a times I wanted to stifle a deep answer like “I’m learning to live my life, ‘take no prisoner’-style.” “I’m doing all the things that I’ve dreamed about for 25 years now instead of waiting 20 more years down the road.” If you think about it, it’s an incredibly risky gamble not to live now. Whether you want to travel or start a band or learn something or do anything, choosing to wait until retirement or some other time is not the best investment—at least for me it isn’t. I could die tomorrow. Good thing I’ve already traveled most of the country.
I believe it was after I visited my Promised Land (Seattle), I told my friend Linda that I could die now. I visited and it was amazing. It was just like I dreamed and more. To see and experience my dream of visiting Seattle was enough. Granted, there’s plenty more for me to experience and other dreams to live, but I was happy. And before I started living my dream of traveling, I was not.
So I guess that’s the “Why.” Not doing what I needed to do (travel, design, write, live my passions, etc.) made me unhappy.
The financial “How” is an entirely different question, which I’ll go into depth at another time. But frankly and among other means, I opened 2 credit cards specifically for traveling that had great APR rates (0% for a year) and reward programs.
Americans are never happy because we place the weight of happiness on material things, thus placing ourselves in debt and staying in debt. I figured if I’m going to be in debt for something it might as well be for something I can enjoy and look back on with pride for the rest of my life — a great adventure.
Responsibly, I’m going into a period of staying grounded (sparse traveling), paying off my debt and saving now. I’m also moving to Seattle so I can explore it fully (the illusion of traveling). It will be so much fun.
My only sound advice is to figure out what would you make happy and do it. Stop thinking about how irrational it would be to take off work and have an extra long weekend in another country. Go. Do. Be. Enjoy your life while you have it.
“It takes a second to say goodbye.” — U2