The difference between a long vacation and long-term travel.
Vacations and short-term travel mean all your plans are booked in advance, there’s little or no flexibility for changes, and your entire time is spent seeing every tourist site you can and perhaps friends or family that live in the area you’re visiting. You bring huge suitcases with everything you need and room to pack all the souvenirs and clothes you buy. The whole trip might be a few days, or a few weeks. You run around and check sites off your list, have a great time and when it comes time to fly home, you wish you didn’t have to leave, but responsibility beckons you.
Long-term travel lasts months, or longer. Plans are more flexible, often made at the very last minute. You pack small and light because you know you may be carrying your bags a long way or up staircases. There’s no room or need for souvenirs because you’re on a whole other journey and there’s not enough room in your bag anyway. You have some challenges and setbacks and learn how to manage. You meet some great people and some not-so-great people and take it all in stride. You get to sense and explore the culture of a place and take in days of doing absolutely nothing or doing mundane things in ordinary places.
Running vs. reflecting
The intentional journey to see the world and explore yourself in the process.
According to a recent study by Dr. Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels from the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies and Dr. Helen Marrow of Tufts University 33.1%, one third, of US-born Americans are considering leaving the country to live abroad! 87.4% of them are interested in this big step as a means of exploration. 49% want to leave a bad or disappointing situation in the United States. You’re not alone in your desire and you definitely aren’t as crazy as some people might make you think!
Instead of seeing all the touristy places as your goal, you want to figure out who you really are and what’s next in life. You’re over 40, you’re single and your career is going nowhere. You’d be happy to change jobs, but to what? Career planning hasn’t helped, in fact nothing about any work really excites or motivates you. You’ve browsed help wanted ads, explored what your friends do, maybe even considered or done something entrepreneurial.
You know you’re talented and have so much to offer, but no job calls to you. In fact the only time you feel alive and truly excited is on those international vacations. And boy! When you go on international vacations, you really go far – traveling to exotic, faraway places that help you get away and reconnect with yourself. The problem is, of course, you have to leave…in just a few days, or weeks if you’re lucky.
You’ve always loved traveling. You love how immediately you can relax into your journey and meet great people. The idea of doing this full time, at least for a while, sounds absolutely awesome even if completely crazy. That annoying voice in your head asks, “Isn’t it only Millenials that do something this bold? That’s what all these travel websites make it look like.” You want to do more than take “look at me in front of the Eiffel Tower!” selfies. You want to feel there’s a purpose to this travel so that it’s more than a long vacation where all you did is see lots of touristy things. Instead of running to places, it’s about walking to yourself.
THE SELF DISCOVERY JOURNEY
There actually is some logic to it.
You’re unique. That means how you discover yourself will be different than how any other person out there does it. However, some steps are the same for everyone. One important thing to remember is to bring something to document everything you feel and experience. That might be a journal, a computer, a phone or something else. Being able to feel the experience and also document it means the witnessing of yourself becomes more solid.
There are a few beginning steps essential to any travel for transformation journey:
- Surrender. Give in to the fact that you’re not happy with the current state of your life, and you want something different. You’re not willing to stick it out another 10, 15 or 20+ years just for a salary and benefits. Surrender to the fact that you have to make the change you want to have in your life, otherwise you’re going to have the same experience of it for the rest of your life.
- Shed. Confront all the ways you’ve handled and confronted things and let go of them. Discover who you really are. Begin to remember a younger version of yourself and the things you did that came naturally and how you used to handle challenges. Remember all the times you felt happy and bold.
- Self Reflect. This will happen throughout your journey – you must ponder why you act and react to things and whether or not you’re happy about how you act and react. The hardest moments are when life throws at you the deep, gnarly, uncomfortable issues you’ve faced most of your life but not gotten past. It’s like a warrior’s quest to see every moment as an opportunity to practice self awareness so you can have the connection and self growth you so desire.
- Sacrifice. You have to let go of the things that are no longer serving you, or not serving you in this moment. That could be housing, friends, stability, belief systems, etc. You can’t move forward until you go all in.
Where to Start
How do you start your journey?
The first thing you’ll want to discover is whether or not you’re cut out for long term travel. Take the quiz to find out!